Monday, July 20, 2015

Tour de France 2015: Things Get Testy Out on the Road

We have now entered the final week of the 2015 Tour de France, and at this point it looks like it will be nearly impossible for anyone to catch Chris Froome. But there is a lot of riding to go just yet, and the mighty Alps still lie ahead. So, while Froome and his Sky team look unbeatable at the moment, there is a lot of riding yet to come, and anything can happen before the peloton arrives in Paris next Sunday.

Over the past couple of days we've started to hear a number of disturbing reports from Tour officials about how things have gotten somewhat testy between the riders on Team Sky, and some of the spectators along the road. This past weekend it was revealed that not only was Ritchie Porte punched in the ribs by on the first stage in the Pyrenees last week, but both he and Luke Rowe were spat on as well.

If that wasn't bad enough, team leader Froome had a cup of urine thrown in his face while the offender in question proclaimed him a "Doper" in French. That incident occurred on Saturday on the ride between Rodez to Mende, and resulted in increased security around the Team Sky bus following the stage.

The success of Froome and Team Sky has led some members of the media – particularly in France – to question whether or not the cyclists are achieving their wins by fair means. There has been no indication that any members of the team are actually doping, but their dominance of the race has caused some to question just how they can be so much better than the rest of the peloton. Whether or not there is any use of performance enhancing substances on Team Sky remains to be seen, but based on what we know right now, they are winning the race based on good team tactics, exceptional cycling talent, and a unified presence out on the road.


As we head into the second rest day tomorrow, the riders are preparing to enter the Alps later in the week. It is on those massive slopes – including a mountain top finish on the legendary Alp d'Huez on Saturday – that the 2015 edition of this race will be deiced. But heading into those final days, Froome has a 3 minute and 10 second advantage over second place rider Nairo Quintana, and an additional 22 second lead over third place rider Tejay Van Garderen.

Since he is the race leader, Froome is wearing the Yellow Jersey, although he is also leading the King of the Mountains competition which gives him the Polka Dot Jersey as well. That particular shirt is actually on load to Joachim Rodriguez, who wears it each day out on the road.

Peter Sagan continues to dominate the competition for the Green Jersey, despite the fact that he has yet to win a stage in this year's Tour. At the moment, Sagan has a large point lead over second place sprinter André Greipel, and it is now starting to look like he will ride into Paris in Green for the fourth year in a row.

Finally, the White Jersey remains on the shoulders of Quintana. This jersey is given to the best young rider (under the age of 25) in the Tour, and the next closest cyclist is nearly 8 minutes back. It would take a massive collapse on the part of the Colombian rider to not finish in second place in the General Classification, and ride onto the Champs Elysees in White.

The rest day tomorrow gives everyone a chance to catch their breath before the real race begins. The rest of the week should be filled with lots of excitement as the competition unfolds on the slopes of the Alps. It should be interesting to see if anyone can challenge Froome. It will take a herculean effort to unseat him at this point, but there are a few riders who may be up to the challenge.

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