The 2018 Tour will eventually be remembered fondly; John Degenkolb’s resurgent win in Roubaix, a cracking battle on Alpe d’Huez and Julian Alaphilippe’s moustache curling with happiness all over France. Nevertheless, fans are in agreement that the final week fizzled out without much happening. Who were the stars of the last three weeks? Here’s my team of the Tour.
GC Rider – Geraint “Dreams do come true” Thomas
Last year I ignored everybody on the final podium, but this year it was impossible to resist.
Thomas barely put a foot a wrong in this year’s Tour de France and his flawless opening week gave him a useful buffer over his GC rivals. Comfortable on the cobbles, Thomas ended up being stronger than captain Chris Froome on each monster mountain stage. He made it look easy. Was this Sky’s plan?
GC Rider – Tom “Come on then, Sky” Dumoulin
We all growled “Giro fatigue” in the direction of Dumoulin and Chris Froome – but both wound up on the podium in Paris. Froome’s legs were zapped in the Pyrenees but it’s difficult to argue Dumoulin ever looked even slightly fried. Two Grand Tour podiums in three months have put to sleep many questions regarding Dumoulin’s ability to go up hill. The best Giro/Tour double of the decade?
Climber – Julian “Begbie” Alaphilippe
Alaphilippe was a joy to watch in this year’s race. He was hungry for success and a brilliant addition to every break he entered. He took maximum mountain points on a Cat 1 summit even after he had mathematically secured the competition. His two brilliant stage wins displayed a trait that we’ve not often seen; patience.
Domestique – Egan “Insert your own nickname” Bernal
Bernal is the next big thing. He’s the best tempo setter money can buy. He’s the attack killer. He’s the leg-reducer. In many ways he was chief constable of the fun police. Whatever you call him, he looked brilliant at this year’s Tour.
Domestique – Sonny “The next great Dane” Kragh Andersen
What did you know about Kragh Andersen before this year’s Tour? A young Dane capable of exploding up a 4% finish? A breakout star form last year’s Tour of Oman? It’s unlikely you would have picked him as the rider to pace Dumoulin away from the Sky train on the way to La Rosiere. Sunweb have mastered the art of giving their leader support which suits his style of racing, even with riders who don’t love altitude.
Puncheur – Greg “Mr.Sneaky” van Avermaet
We’re used to Greg van Avermaet being brilliant but not in such a measured and dogged style. He inherited the yellow jersey after BMC’s TT win and increased his lead during a smart opening week. Sneaking into the daily break whilst wearing the yellow jersey is now a trademark move we can lovingly call ‘doing a Greg’.
Sprinter – Peter “Owch” Sagan
I thought about not including our triple stage winning, green jersey wearing, Mr. Everything – but why would I not include a rider who racked up over 400 points for the sixth time in his career before taking a horrible tumble and grinding to Paris with a Craddock-like following. He’s explosive, exciting and capable of beating the sprinters at their own game.
Wildcard – Andrea “Top Ten” Pasqualon
It would be easy to pick Dylan Groenewegen or Fernando Gaviria in this final slot – but neither made it through the Alps! I’ve opted for Pasqualon because of his seven top ten finishes – one in each bunch sprint bar the opener in Fontenay-le-Conte. In a poor race for Wildcard teams, Pasqualon mixed it with the best sprinters in the world and took plenty of good results. Not bad for a 30-year old who was riding with Continental outfit Roth-Skoda in 2015.