The final week of the Tour de France is a time where absolutely anything could happen.
Or absolutely nothing.
We could see a continuation of the Alps – Sky squashing Movistar, Dumoulin digging in – or something completely different. Will our race leader hang on? Will the Giro take its toll? Just how bad will Romain Bardet’s final time trial be? Here are some possible outcomes…
Thomas too good…
In the form of his life, Thomas is just too good in the final week. Chris Froome tires, Dumoulin cracks and Thomas holds his Dauphine form right through to Paris. He stays with the leaders on the Tourmalet and Froome is unable to wrestle the yellow jersey from his shoulders. The rumbles in the Sky camp never turn into a war; Thomas simply out-rides his former leader. Cue social media’s magnifying glass to be held over every one of Thomas’ previous results.
Podium: Thomas – Froome – Dumoulin
Will it happen? Thomas is flying right now, but I can’t see him lasting to Paris.
Too bad for Thomas…
Thomas goes full Yates. Two stages – including a dream win on Alp d’Huez – are the high points of Thomas’ race (and possibly career). He cracks in the Pyrenees, shipping time each day. He tumbles off the podium, slips down to seventh and loses a top ten spot on Stage 19. Meanwhile, Dumoulin delivers the perfect three-week performance to ruin Team Sky’s year and confirm his status as Froome’s nemesis.
Podium: Dumoulin – Froome – Bardet
Will it happen? Not as emphatically as described, but Thomas will falter and leave fans with a Giro rematch.
The Whale War…
An ill-timed puncture puts the squeeze on Dumoulin who struggles to get back on terms with the lead group on Stage 16. Dave Brailsford reluctantly allows his two leaders to race against eachother. This move backfires as the Team Sky domestiques have no idea what to do. Froome relentless attacks Thomas, who struggles to stay on terms. Froome cuts the gap to less than ten seconds and takes the yellow jersey after the time trial. Thomas signs for UAE. Froome joins Team Wiggins. Bernal wins the next Tour.
Podium: Froome – Thomas – Dumoulin
Will it happen? Sky should let their riders race. Froome and Thomas are more likely to fall out if strict instruction is given.
The Giro sting…
The Giro d’Italia finally begins to take its toll on the Col du Tourmalet. Froome is dropped early before spinning himself into oblivion off the back of the peloton. Dumoulin also struggles and falls out of the top five. Thomas is left to contend with a lively Romain Bardet. The Frenchman attacks nine times but is shut down easily by Sky.
Podium: Thomas – Bardet – Roglic
Will it happen? The extra week has made the Giro/Tour double achievable. I can’t see Froome and Dumoulin exploding in such fashion.
In what will later be known as the greatest twist in Grand Tour history… Froome, Thomas, Dumoulin and Bardet crash and burn hard in the Pyrenees. Jumbo win the lottery, with Primosz Roglic time-trialling his way to the yellow jersey and Steven Kruijswijk joining him on the podium. Somehow Quintana comes third.
Podium: Roglic – Kruijswijk – Quintana
Will it happen? Absolutely not. No chance. Nope.
Channelling his inner-Schleck/Contador, Romain Bardet launches a bold 65km attack on Stage 19. The chase splinters apart as Bardet joins Pierre Latour and he soon becomes the virtual GC leader. Miraculously, he defends yellow in the final time-trial. France is so stunned they forget to boo Chris Froome as he rolls home in second.
Podium: Bardet – Froome – Dumoulin
Will it happen? Absolutely not, but he might try