Le Tour de France 2015 has come to an end. After 23 action packed days, Chris Froome emerged victorious at the end of it all. There was a mixture of amazing cycling and massive upsets with disappointing performances from some greats.
We at ES would like to present our unofficial “The Bests” awards for this Tour.
The best rider was without a doubt Chris Froome. Nairo Quintna did come close to winning the Tour, especially in the last few stages, but for most of the Tour, Froome was the better rider. He took time when he could before the Alps. His solo ascent on La Pierre Saint-Martin was phenomenal. For the first two days in the Alps he was able to match Quintana.
The best team was Movistar. They had 2 riders on the podium in Paris. However, it is the support they provided to Quintana and Valverde throughout the 2nd and 3rd week of the Tour that set them apart. Sky were somehow able to counter them, but it definitely kept the British Team on their toes, reacting to their various moves.
MTN-Qhubeka in January were the first African team to be invited to compete in the Tour. As a wildcard team, no one knew what they were capable off. Not only did they add established names such as Steve Cummings, Tyler Farrar and Edvald Boasson Hagen, but they also did surprising well. Daniel Teklehaimanot was the king of the mountains for Four Stages. Steve Cummings won them the 14th stage, on Mandela Day, and they had their presence felt in the breakaways of all mountain stages with Teklehaimont and Pauwels in the thick of it. On top of that, they finished 5th in the Overall team classification, which is really good.
They will be the team to watch out for.
Warren Barguil was our surprise rider. The 23 year old Frenchman was part of the Giant-Alpecin squad. He made his tour debut this year. He was almost there for a top 10 finish, but at 23, he has quite a few good years in him. He has shown he can keep up with the elite names and finishing 14th on a debut Tour is really good. Along with Bardet and Pinot, he will be a part of the next generation of top French road cyclists.
This would have to be Tejay van Garderen. At the start of the Tour, he was given an outside possibility of winning the Tour. As the race went on, he was taken more seriously. Sitting 3rd overall, and set to really make his move in the Alps, he had to withdraw on stage 17 due to illness. He was devastated as he seemed destined for a podium finish, a big improvement on his personal best of 5th Overall.
Most combative rider
The most combative rider award was given to the Frenchman, Romain Bardet. He won it over Peter Sagan, despite his heroics in the breakaways before the Alps. Breakaways, in a medium mountain stage? That’s almost like uncharted territory for a sprinter.
However, we’d personally like Michael Matthews to be awarded the most combative rider award. The Australian crashed heavily on stage 3, which saw him break two ribs. Despite the pain, he continued to labour on in the Tour. He was not really able to come to the front, but the punishment these cyclists push their body through each stage would have been amplified on his ailing body. He was the only person involved on the stage 3 crash that did not withdraw from the Tour. It was glad to even see him and his team in the front trying to get a good result on the final stage.
Most disappointing rider
This has to be Alexander Kristoff. Before the start of the Tour, the Norweigian had won 18 races in the 2015 Season, by far the most of any rider this year. Yet, he was unable to find his sprinting legs in the Tour and was not even close to challenging the other big names. His best performance in the Tour was just a 3rd place on the final stage in Paris.
The best sprint for me, Stage 7’s sprint. Etixx-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish managed to take his 26th Stage win in the Tour. This was a morale boost for the Squad that had lost its leader, Tony Martin just the day before.
Before the finish, all the big names were there, jostling for position. Cavendish caught the slipstream of Greipel, and at the right moment launched his attack. It was the first time in nearly 2 years that the Manx Missile won a stage at the Tour.
Stage 4, Tony Martin took Yellow. Having been 2nd, behind three different riders for three days, he finally took the overall lead on stage 4. Despite having a flat tyre in the final 15kms, and using a teammate’s bike for the remainder of the stage rather than waiting for the Team Car, Martin powered his way forward with a bit over 3.5 kilometres left. It was a mini time trial for the world’s best Time Trialist, on a bike that is not suited for him (the seat was 2cms lower and the break set up of the teammate was different than that of Martin’s preference). It was an amazing day for the German who won this second mass stage in the Tour de France and wore the prestigious Yellow Jersey.
Worst moment of the Tour
The amount of abuse Chris Froome and Team Sky were subject to by some of the fans on the Tour was appalling. Richie Porte was punched by a spectator in the Pyrenees. The team car was pounded by supporters and had objects thrown at them. Chris Froome was subject to abuse my fans, and even had urine thrown at him on a stage.
This behaviour by the fans is unacceptable, the organizers would really need to revamp the security during the 2016 Tour.