With the majority of national championship titles decided the weekend just gone the cycling world now turns to the biggest race of them all. The Tour de France.
It seems that only yesterday Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz pulled on the oh so beautiful Maglia Rosa at the Giro. Surprising everyone with a strong performance across all terrain. But what have we learnt since that historic victory in Verona?
Following the Giro the cycling world swiftly begins its final preparations for the tour. Warm up race after warm-up race hones the favourites form ahead of La Grande Boucle.
Exciting as they are in their own right this year they saw a shakeup like never before.
I am of course talking about Froome’s nose picking catastrophe.
An obvious blow to him and team Ineos, not simply for his hopes of winning a record-equalling 5th Tour but also for his prospects of life. I am in no way someone who enjoys seeing a crash like that happen, it sounded horrific and we at Breakaway wish him the speediest recovery. But I wonder what it means for the race. How will the tour cope without Froome at its front?
One thing that we couldn’t ignore about the Giro was the number of stages won from a breakaway.
In total there were 10 stage victories from riders who had been in an initial break.
We think that has got to be one of the primary reasons this year’s Giro was so exciting to watch. But how did it happen?
Were the riders in the breakaway’s really much stronger than the bunch behind? Or was it the Parcours that suited riders staying away? One explanation could be the relative lack of presence at the front of the peloton from the newly renamed team Ineos.
Not wanting to play down the effort of their two leaders Tao Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov, or indeed the team as a whole it was clearly not their strongest performance. With Egan Bernal crashing out before the start of the race, following a broken collarbone, it left the team with less firepower and must have knocked the wind out of their sails.
By not having their protected leader it meant that they were forced to cede their vice like grip on the bunch. The racing that followed was less predictable, less like a time trial and much much more in keeping with the Giro d’Italia of old.
Vincenzo Nibali was able to launch his infamous shark attacks, while you never knew who would be about to crack under the pressure. A particular favourite moment of mine was seeing Esteban Chaves win solo at San Martino di Castrozza. Having struggled with Epstein-Barr virus since his win at last years Giro it was a real joy to see his infectious smile grace the top step of the podium once again.
So what about the Tour? Will it receive the same treatment as the Giro. A dose of unpredictable racing and breakaway glory?
It is impossible to tell and although team Ineos might not have Froome they still have the mighty G and Bernal combo as their protected riders.
I wouldn’t be the only one hoping for a less processional race either. You can bet that the French public are licking their lips in hope of a French winner even if it means they will miss out on their favourite past time, heckling Froome.
As the riders, teams and fans start to assemble in Belgium ahead of the 106th edition, at Breakaway Digital we cant wait to see what impact picking your nose whilst riding a tt bike will have on the biggest bike race of them all.
Stay tuned for more Double Espresso updates throughout the race. Or simply sign up to our newsletter.