Tour de France

5 things learnt from the Tour de France

2016-07-25 14:04
Chris Froome in the yellow jersey (Getty Images)

Paris - Five things we learned from the Tour de France, which ended on Sunday in Paris with Chris Froome winning his third title:

1. Va-va-Froome

Just as others before him such as Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain or even the disgraced Lance Armstrong, Froome proved this year that when one rider is simply better than the others, nothing can stop him.

True, Froome had the strongest team, but he was individually the strongest climber, time-trialer, descender and flat rider. No one managed to take time out of Froome in any domain. When the best is simply superior, he almost always wins.

2. Sky's suffocating armada

In their three previous Tour victories, Sky had the best team, but this year they brought perhaps the best team the Tour has ever seen - notwithstanding the super-charged US Postal and Discovery Channel teams of Armstrong.

But when a team is that strong - Froome himself acknowledged this was the strongest team ever fielded by Sky - they kill the race. The tempo set by Froome's team-mates prevented any rider from even thinking about attacking, particularly in the mountains.

Cycling may be a team game, but sometimes the team can take the fun out of cycling. Tour organisers ASO are now looking at the possibility of reducing teams from nine to eight riders.

Chris Froome and Team Sky (yellow jersey) celebrates victory as he crosses the finish line with the rest of The Team Sky riders. (Getty Images)

3. A step too far

Since his Tour debut in 2013, Nairo Quintana has been feted as a future winner. Widely proclaimed the best climber in the world, he was not even second best to Froome at this Tour. Perhaps it was simply not his year but Quintana looked to be a shadow of the rider he was in 2015.

Is Tour success a step too far for Quintana? Certainly he was below his best this year but while he's won the Giro before and proved he's capable of succeeding in a three-week Tour, perhaps the stress and pressure of riding the biggest race of all is simply too much.

Quintana himself insists that at 26 he's still young and has many more chances to win the Tour, but the next generation of competition are also young. And his satisfaction at finishing third, despite claims he was affected by an allergy, was discouraging for his future prospects.

4. British future secured

First there was Bradley Wiggins, now it's Chris Froome, but does the future belong to Adam Yates?

The Tour de France has had a decidedly British feel these last few years and it could remain for another generation given the performance of Yates.

The 23-year-old came into the race looking to win a stage, but he quickly realised he was able to match the very best when the Tour's gradients started increasing.

He finished fourth overall, winning the young rider's white jersey and proved he's a Grand Tour winner in the making, despite his relative weakness in time-trialling.

What makes his emergence even more daunting for the non-Brits in the peloton is that he has a twin brother, Simon Yates, who until this year had arguably out-performed him.

5. Breath of fresh air

Froome may have no peers when it comes to three-week stage racing but Peter Sagan is simply untouchable as an all-round rider. The world champion can do everything - except challenge the best climbers in the high mountains. And he's getting better every year.

He claimed the world title in September, won his first Monument one-day classic race in April and then proved the alternative dominant force to Froome at the Tour. Three stage wins, sprinting with the best on flat finishes and short uphill ones, escaping in break-aways and attacking in cross-winds, Sagan was a whirlwind of activity at the Tour, deservedly winning the award for most combative rider.

He won a fifth straight green points jersey and even halfway through the Tour when Mark Cavendish was wearing it, the Briton himself admitted he had no chance of holding onto it until Paris.

Sagan will likely never win the Tour but there aren't too many other titles in cycling that are beyond his reach. He'll even be going for Olympic mountain bike gold at Rio.

Read more on:    tdf 2016  |  chris froome  |  cycling
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