We drove up the climb to Val Thorens this morning and to put it into context it’s three times the length of Alpe d’Huez, so Ineos knew that if they rode to tempo they’d keep Egan Bernal safe in the yellow jersey and that was the priority.
It would have been difficult to take it off him and maybe if this climb had been in the middle of the race – 10 days in – then we’d have seen some fireworks but everybody was knackered.
Alaphilippe only lost three minutes and has ended up fifth on GC. At the beginning of this week, Mitchelton-Scott DS Matt White was predicting that he’d lose an hour in the Alps and he didn’t. He was up with them yesterday and the day before, so him coming fifth is incredible, especially given where the experts thought he would come. As I said yesterday – get that guy a decent GC team, if I see Patrick Lefevere I might tell him.
It’s a shame he didn’t make the podium because the reaction he would have got on the Champs-Élysées would have been tremendous.
Steven Kruijswijk has had his distractions over the last few years but that was a solid, solid performance in this year’s Tour. I’m not sure if he’s ever going to win a Grand Tour – and he came close at the Giro a couple of years ago – because I think Primoz Roglic is the better GC rider. They’ve got Dylan Groenewegen as well but that team is split between GC and sprinting.
The problem with Jumbo Visma is that tactically they haven’t been that good for a while but they have an amazing team roster. But if you want to win the GC you have to concentrate on that and not bring a sprinter!
If you want to win the GC, and it’s a cliche, you have to be in it to win it. If you only bring half a team with you then you’re not going to win it. It’s as simple as that. We saw it in the Giro that tactically-speaking Jumbo Visma were all over the place. They’ve been slightly better in the Tour. Maybe it’s different for us armchair pundits to say this but all you have to do is copy Team Ineos. Their team was lacking power this year but they’ve got the first two spots on the podium despite that.
Jumbo already have the team so rather than buying someone like Tom Dumoulin as they’re rumoured to be doing – and he’s a great rider – just sort out your management!
Talking of management, Movistar have three riders in the top ten and have won the team classification and they looked like the only team going for it. They were amazing in the Giro. Max Sciandri was the DS there and he’s great but here they had their three leaders who all attacked on different stages. It’s OK but just pick one! They piss about with the team classification but they should just look at one leader. Enric Mas is reportedly moving there next year and Landa and Quintana are leaving so maybe they’ll have more concentration on tactics.
I think the next decade though is going to be all about Egan Bernal, possibly longer if he doesn’t burn out too quickly. The way he rode this Tour, I can’t see anyone else beating him in the near future. He didn’t win a stage, but neither did Chris Froome in 2017. It’s amazing to watch him. I can imagine Geraint Thomas will do the Giro because the best thing for him to do would be to try and win all three Grand Tours. Not many people do that so it’ll be nice to see. Bernal is the future at the Tour de France and I think Dave Brailsford knows that.
Before Chris Froome got injured in that horrendous crash at the Dauphiné, Brailsford wanted an Ineos one-two-three on the podium at the Tour. He’s got first and second which is just as good but he just wants to dominate. He’s the best tactician and has the best sporting brain of any manager and the sports directors he employs – especially Nico Portal – just shows the depth that they’ve got.
Vicenzo Nibali is one of the oldest riders in the race this year but it was great to see him win today. He lost a bit of time at the start of the Tour so it was obvious he wasn’t going for GC but to see him in the breakaways was just magical.
He’s still one of the best climbers in the world and to see him win a stage like this – with most of the last part him riding solo – was magical. The younger guys behind him trying to catch up just had no chance.
Now on to Paris.