We are halfway through the Tour now and what a race it has been! Every stage has been extremely exciting and felt more like back to back one day races. Froome has been strong. Greipel has been fast. The route has been challenging. Amongst all of the unpredictability there has been a foundation of certainty, just to keep us from boiling over. All the stars of the race so far have received high praise and rightly so. To have got a victory in the 2015 Tour de France will have been as a result of great form and hard work.
However, with all the events of the first few stages, there hasn’t been much column space for the domestiques. The guys who give it their all day in, day out for their team receiving little thanks or reward. They guys who train all year round to sacrifice their chances of success for their leader. So here, we put our three stand-out domestiques on a podium of their own, to celebrate their hard work:
In third place…
It’s always great to see the World Champion bands in the Tour de France. Especially on the back of a rider capable of attacking in the mountains or winning stages. Kwiatkowski is one of those riders, however has spent each day in this Tour giving his all for each of his team mates. He drove the split on stage 2, rode for Tony Martin’s Yellow Jersey and helped set up Cav for stage wins. Kwiatkowski is a rider with many talents. In this year’s Tour he is using all of them to aid the team. Cool to see the rainbow jersey at the front in this way.
In second place…
The Lotto-Soudal team
Ok, this may seem like a bit of a cop out, choosing the whole team. However, it’s true. Each rider has worked for one of their team mates at some point, regardless of their position within the team. They have had lead outs for intermediate sprints, sprinters on the front of climbing stages and climbers on the front of sprint stages. This has brought great success, with Greipel taking numerous wins, Gallopin high up on GC, and riders still getting in the break. It’s great to see.
Photo: Tim De Waele
In first place…
There have been some great displays of team work in this Tour. However, for me, G is a clear winner here. One of the most versatile riders in the World. Mountains, cobbles, lead-outs, time-trials, or just sitting on the front all day. All of it. Geraint piloted Froome through the cobbles safely, even taking him off the front at one point. He then did monster turns in the TTT and dropped most of Froome’s GC riders on the Tour’s first mountain stage. But what’s really amazing is how he has still been holding a high GC position. Already a classic winner, Olympic champion, Commonwealth champion and World champion, but putting his chances of success on the line for Team Sky. I think there is still much success ahead for G but, for now, he can celebrate being top of our domestique podium. Congratulations!
Also, an honourable mention for Peter Sagan. Arguably the best rider in the world, definitely one of the most expensive. He has happily taken on the role of team worker for Alberto Contador, having quite possibly given up the opportunity of a stage win or extra green jersey points. Chapeau!