A palette of colours …
Urán-Bardet… just until the end
The Tour favourite won. This is undisputable, but the general classification battle didn't come down to a chase for honourable mention among Chris Froome's pursuers. For the first time, the Briton even lost possession of the Yellow Jersey in the mountains after dropping time in the final metres of the Pau-Peyragudes stage. On that day Fabio Aru seemed to brilliantly embody the character of the possible Italian successor to Vincenzo Nibali in the Tour de France record book. What happened after showed that the Astana leader didn't have the constancy needed for such a challenge, while Froome's failure didn't reveal a real decline.
Although he was back in Yellow at Rodez, Froome wasn't finished in having to cope with the competition. His main rival, Richie Porte, had already left Le Tour after a nasty crash and Nairo Quintana wasn't riding on the same form as he did in his runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2015. However, both Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Urán kept the suspense alive in harassing the overall leader at less than 30 seconds. They kept the pressure on just until the final time-trial on the eve of the arrival in Paris, where the Frenchman and Colombian switched places on the podium. Romain Bardet didn't live up to expectations in Marseilles, and only kept third place by the skin of his teeth, crossing the line with just one second to the good from 4th place overall, Mikel Landa.
Matthews, the survivor
The tight circle of sprinters experienced a haemorrhage on the 2017 Tour de France, beginning with the disqualification of the five-time winner of the points classification, Peter Sagan, opening up the possibilities for a large number of candidates… whose number quickly shrunk. Mark Cavendish was next on the list of early retirees, after suffering a fractured shoulder blade on stage four. Arnaud Démare was in the hunt for the Green Jersey when he left Le Tour prematurely after missing the finish time cut at Chambéry.
On that day, Marcel Kittel was in green, his superiority on the sprints guaranteed him a bright future: with five victories in 11 stages after his win at Pau, he could even hope to chase down the records if he rode faultlessly just to Paris. Yet, the German's lead in the points classification didn't discourage Michael Matthews from putting in a fierce pursuit, making the most of all the different terrains where he could score the points that Kittel was incapable of picking up. After his victory in Romans, the Australian was just 29 points behind…which was enough to encourage him to join the break away on the road to Serre-Chevalier. At the intermediate sprint, he was within nine digits! But more importantly, Kittel crashed 20kms into the race then withdrew from the race, injured and no longer able to deal with the pain. Matthews was the new leader with a comfortable advantage from André Greipel. The Jersey of consistency… or a new way of reliving the fable of the tortoise and the hare.
Barguil, the exploit
“I enjoy myself when I attack” raved Warren Barguil at the arrival in Chambéry, where he suffered the disappointment of finishing second, beaten in a sprint by Rigoberto Urán. During this break away day at high altitude, the native of Brittany made his way over the Grand Colombier and the Mont du Chat in the lead to take possession of the Polka dot Jersey. Having stumbled in previous years when it came to his general classification ambitions, Barguil decided to change his goals. He had fun and it paid off.
In the wake of his exploit in the Jura “Wawa” attacked again in the following climbs and the Foix stage. In addition to the points picked up at the Mur de Péguère, he claimed his first Tour stage win; then did it again on the most prestigious stage of this year's Tour at Izoard, while the threat from Primož Roglič was basically over. A two stage winner, laureate of the Polka dot Jersey and Le Tour's Super Combativity award, Barguil also finished in the Top 10 of the general classification. The mountains are his turf and pleasure is what drives him.
Yates, Roglič, Groenewegen, Calmejane are the future …
Each edition of the Tour de France offers riders the chance to prove themselves, to experience their first major thrills and to claim a share of the glory…and why not kick start a career. This for example is the vocation of the White Jersey, awarded to the best under 25 rider. Designated as one of the “kids” in the hunt for the honours, Simon Yates pulled away on the Planche des Belles Filles stage, to quickly put distance between himself and rival Louis Meintjes. To add to his pleasure of winning in the category, the Briton followed the success of twin brother Adam, in wearing the White Jersey for two more days then he did!
Primož Roglič has a good excuse for not having made a name for himself in the under 25 classification: he only started competing in cycling at the age of 22, after a career in ski jumping. Five years later, the Slovenian participated for the first time in the Tour de France and he won one of the most popular stages at Serre-Chevalier. The Lotto-Jumbo rider proved he is one of the up and coming talents to keep an eye on, like his team mate, sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, who rose to the occasion on the Champs-Elysées to win the most prestigious race in this domain. Among the newcomers into the club of stage winners, Lilian Calmejane added his contribution at the Station des Rousses to the fine harvest of victories for the French: five wins from four different riders.