The cycling season is over (not quite but essentially) which means the Just Pro Cycling Pub Quiz is here! Comment your answers below or message me on Twitter @justprocycling to get your answers. Print the quiz. Share the quiz. Love the quiz. Host a quiz night. The questions get progressively harder… but they’re all easy if you know them!
“Fabio Aru can win this race” murmur the Italian’s hardcore following. “He’s climbed another place” note the believers as the former Vuelta winner creeps towards the top ten just 1:08 behind new leader Simon Yates. Unfortunately, the number of fans who still believe in the Italian is dwindling. You could even argue that nobody truly believes that Aru can have a say on this year’s Vuelta. When did things become so hopeless for Italy’s bright young climber?
I was once told my view on Team Sky’s dominance – and jiffy bags – was balanced and refreshing. I don’t like Sky, but I try not to obsess on one collection of riders. I’d rather talk about key moments in races, winning moves or bold tactics. I’ve also been told my view on Team Sky is dull and inconclusive. I don’t make my mind up. I don’t love Chris Froome (he’s never been my preferred race winner) but nor do I condemn him.
If somebody asked me which team have won six tours in the last seven years I’d say Team Sky with no hesitation or caveat. Unfortunately, alarm bells have been ringing almost the entire time. Following Geraint Thomas’ victory at this year’s Tour – a race where Froome looked surprisingly human, but former E3 Harelbeke winner Thomas delivered a flawless climbing performance – it’s time to make my mind up on the issues which make the Sky regime quite so dubious.
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…
After a cold winter, we all look forward to the first proper hot day. We might even get bored of waiting and jump on a plane to our favourite coast. And then – when we do get some real sun – we all know someone who will declare: ‘This too hot, far too hot’.
Do we even know what we want anymore? Do we like bunch sprints as much as we thought? We’ve all been waiting for a sprint showdown of the calibre provided by this year’s Tour; are we really already bored? Maybe you can have too much of a good thing.
Ahead of the Tour de France I have, like many, been thinking about the all-conquering, salbutamol abusing, not quite BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Chris Froome. Wounded by the early 2000s, I have mastered the dark art of burying my head in the sand when it comes to Froome. That’s not to say I’ve ignored the Team Sky sponsored alarm bells over the last five years, but given the choice between arguing about Froome’s cadence and admiring one of Alexis Gougeard’s doomed late attacks, I’m always choosing Alexis.
After recovering at the Giro to squash everybody with a freakish attack, Froome has well and truly rattled the Tour de France organizers. Can they handle another Tour winner with an asterisk? Can anybody stop him from winning? Can anybody stop him from riding? Does anybody want to see him ever again?!
Simon Yates is absolutely flying. He’s clearly ahead in the GC, and clearly the best climber at this year’s Giro. Whilst he’s dancing a perfect ten, his closest rivals are trudging round the dancefloor at an ugly tempo. Unfortunately for Yates, there’s a time trial to come before three monster mountain stages bring the race to a close. Basically, his two minute advantage provides no real assurances. There’s a time trial tomorrow before we visit Pratonevoso, Finestre, Sestriere, Jafferau, San Pantaleone and Cervinia. Here are a few scenarios that could play out…
At three weeks long, the Giro provides plenty of time for a rider to crash, lose time, adapt their goals, swap roles with a teammate, and still have a pretty decent race (hey Mikel Landa). There’s so much time, in fact, that some riders will go to Italy with multiple options, a free role, or no idea what they want to achieve. There are plenty of exciting riders with big question marks against their names. Here are six riders to keep your eyes on.