9 takeaways from the Tour de France so far

We’ve only just made it past the first rest day of the 2019 Tour de France and already the race is knocking our socks off. The ‘hardest route of the past decade’ is more than living up to its label and we’re yet to hit the high mountains. Big players have been distanced, favourites foiled and the GC left in tatters in the first half of the race.

But what are our biggest takeaways from the race so far? Which moments have made our jaws drop and what kind of absurdities have we been screaming at our TV during each stage? Let’s find out…

It pays to ride in yellow

The yellow jersey is ordinarily reserved for just one rider, the one with the quickest cumulative time across the stages thus far. But that’s not quite the case for Team Jumbo-Visma with the whole team resplendent in their yellow strip.

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They’ve been proving their worth in yellow too, taking no less than four stages already. Forget ‘go-faster stripes’, a yellow jersey is the recipe for speedy success!

Alaphilippe is a swashbuckling sensation

We’ve known of Julian Alaphilippe’s amazing talents for a few years now, but never have we seen him pull off quite as big a result as he did on stage three of this year’s race.

Everyone knew he was going to attack, and exactly where he was going to launch, yet no one could do anything to stop him. One punchy kick and a hair-raising descent later and he’d robbed the yellow jersey from the grasps of Jumbo-Visma, taking an emphatic stage win in the process.

Stage eight was a case of rinse and repeat, Alaphilippe almost mirroring his attack from stage three on the final climb of the day to steal a march on the peloton behind and re-take the yellow jersey. Oh, and this was on the eve of his national holiday, Bastille Day, which made it even sweeter.

 

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The sprinters are getting faster

Gone are the days of Cavendish versus Greipel, we’re now being treated to thrilling bunch finishes with more than a handful of players battling for the win. It’s tough to tell who’s fastest when so many of the big sprinters already have win to their name, and even those who haven’t yet managed to take a stage look darn quick – we’re looking at you, Michael Matthews.


With so many of these sprinters still having youth on their side the future certainly looks bright, but which one of them is going to succeed Peter Sagan and become the new green jersey sensation?

Sagan is unshakeable in green

Peter Sagan has won a record-equalling six green jerseys at the Tour de France and it looks as though he’s going to comfortably take his seventh, a tally that would finally topple the former ‘King of the Sprints’, Erik Zabel.

He’s been characteristically consistent across each of the sprint stages so far, taking eight top-10 finishes and a stage win to knock up an already humungous tally of green jersey points. Several riders are trying their hardest to hang onto his coattails, most notably the 2017 green jersey winner, Michael Matthews, and the punchy Italian, Sonny Colbrelli, but none are managing to make any sizeable inroads into his rapidly growing lead.

 

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With most of the pure sprint stages now done and dusted and only the final dash in Paris remaining, it looks as though all Sagan has to do is stay on his bike and he’ll comfortably ride home in green, toppling Zabel’s long-held record in the process.

Thomas defies the doubters

With so few racing miles this year, Geraint Thomas didn’t come into the Tour de France as the people’s firm favourite; in fact, it was his younger teammate, Egan Bernal, who many were touting for overall Tour glory.

All that changed however on the stage six summit finish to La Planche des Belles Filles when Thomas rode away from all of his rivals – including Bernal – on the leg-breaking gravel ramps that made up the final kilometre.

He didn’t take a load of time, but he did impose his dominance on the race, silencing the doubters who had critiqued his form before the Tour. Thomas now lies in second place, ahead of all his main rivals and poised to take even more time as the race heads into the Pyrenees later this week.

De Gendt is the breakaway king

If there’s one rider synonymous with the word breakaway then it’s this man – Thomas de Gendt. He’s take stage wins in all three Grand Tours, KOM jerseys in a number of one-week stage races and captured the hearts of fans globally, all through his exploits in the breakaway.


That’s why, when he rode to a thrilling stage win Saint-Étienne on stage eight of this year’s race, the whole world erupted in applause, doffing their proverbial caps to the man that had just defied all odds to take perhaps the sweetest victory of his entire career.

Crosswinds cause chaos

Forget the high mountains, just take a flat exposed road through the Massif Central and pepper it with some billowing crosswinds – that’s how you make a race!

Stage ten saw the race explode on the roads leading into Albi, all thanks to a change in wind direction and two teams, Deceuninck-Quickstep and Team Ineos, putting the hammer down at the front of the bunch. What ensued was utter carnage – GC riders were spread all over the road and losing more time than you’d expect even on a classic Alpine mountain stage.


Thibaut Pinot, Richie Porte, Jakob Fuglsang and Mikel Landa all saw their GC hopes crippled in these crosswinds, each of them losing close to two minutes on the likes of Thomas and Bernal.

Luck is not on the French favourites’ side

Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet lined up at this year’s Tour de France as the two home favourites, with many newspapers proclaiming that it was ‘now or never’ for the pair of them to live up to their potential and finally scalp a Tour victory.

They both started off well, but cracks definitely began to show on La Planche des Belles Filles when Bardet was dropped on a climb that many thought would suit him. Days later the cracks grew to a gaping crevasse when Pinot was distanced in the crosswind chaos of stage ten, hammering even more nails into the coffin of a French Tour de France victory.

 

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Advantage Ineos

Despite winning six of the past seven editions of this race, Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) have never been in such a commanding position going into the second week of the race. Thomas and Bernal now lie second and third overall respectively and each have around half a minute in hand to their nearest rivals, Steven Kruijswijk and Adam Yates, and a further two minutes over the likes of Romain Bardet and Jakob Fuglsang – two men that would have originally posed a lot of danger in the high mountains.

The odds are clearly stacked in their favour going into the second half of this race, but will they be able to hold their commanding position? Or will we see some of those riders who’ve been distanced come flying back once we get to the real mountains? Time will certainly tell.

Agree with our Tour takeaways? What have been your biggest talking points from the race so far? Let us know on either our Twitter or Facebook channels.