After the twin and consecutive emotional rollercoasters of crewing on RAAM solo for Shusanah in June, and then following each televised pedal stroke of Tour de France in July, The Wattmeister is an empty shell.
Shu’s successful completion of RAAM simultaneously drained and recharged his energy levels in preparation for his obsession with the Tour.
Over the three weeks, such drama has been played out on the roads of France. Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin eliminated from the race due to injury, after both had held the coveted yellow jersey. Jean Christophe Peraud, second overall in 2014, suffering a fall sustaining considerable injuries, but battling on to the finish in Paris. Tejay van Gaarderen forced to abandon through illness along with world champion Michael Kwiatowski.
Each day produced a new headline story, culminating in one of the races most compelling denouements on the ramps of Alpe d’Huez. History will show that Thibaut Pinot won the stage from Nairo Quintana with Chris Froome back in fifth place.
On Saturday’s massive stage there were heroic cameo roles played out in a series of evocative vignettes by brave riders at the very limit of their powers.
Special mention goes to Andre Geniez, supporting Thibaut Pinot from the FDJ team; Wauter Poels and Richie Porte of Team SKY who buried themselves on behalf of Christopher Froome.
When Movistar’s Quintana executed his grand attack , first Alejandro Valverde and then, especially, Winner Ancona rode themselves into the ground to maintain a pace which would cut the time deficit in the Columbian’s favour.
All the while, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal was up front, attempting to wrest the stage win from Pinot, alternating bold attacks with desperate defence as the pair of them went rueda a rueda amid the boiling cauldron of humanity thronging the mountainside.
Quintana’s effort was immense. It ended in failure on two levels. He neither won the stage nor the Tour General Classification, but he succeeded in harvesting the admiration of millions of spectators and leaving this older rouleur anticipating next year’s renewal.