The 2017 Tour de France was certainly a mixed bag. It had everything from a marauding parasol which nearly obliterated the peloton, to Chris Froome making an unintended caravan picnic break on stage 12 with Fabio Aru. Whittling it down to the five best moments was certainly hard, but these are the ones that will stand the test of time.
High five for Kittel
Marcel Kittel took the first Grand Tour victory ever for a disc brake bike on stage two, and by his untimely departure on stage 17 he had taken four more, proving he was the best sprinter in the race by far. The sprint finishes were often disorganised, with few effective lead-out trains which made them unpredictable, and making Kittel’s achievement of winning five stages all the more impressive. The German’s most exciting victory was his fourth, when he beat Edvald Boasson Hagen on stage 10’s long drag by the closest margin in Tour de France history!
Lilian Calmejane’s first Tour stage win
Stage eight of the Tour was an absolute thrill ride as the undulating terrain made it hard for any team to control. After a week of the same old story: breakaways caught by sprint or GC teams with bigger fish to fry; the shrinking gap on stage eight made for nerve-wracking viewing. Lilian Calmejane attacked his breakaway companions on the final climb and held the gap to Robert Gesink valiantly. Victory looked all but certain until he cramped in the last 3km, but the Frenchman soon recovered, taking the second French stage win on this year’s Tour in front of his joyous home crowd.
Contador and Landa’s throwback attack
Stage 13 at only 101km’s long was always going to be raced at a rapid pace. The energy increased further when Trek Segafredo’s Alberto Contador launched a long-range attack with Team Sky’s Mikel Landa in pursuit. The pair battled up the incredible steep gradients of the route’s three category one climbs, in an attack reminiscent of a bygone age. It was exhilarating viewing! Joined by Nairo Quintana, and Warren Barguil, the quartet worked tirelessly to boost their chances of overall victory by maintaining the minute and a half gap to the other GC contenders.
Barguil Battles to Bastille Day victory
Warren Barguill came agonisingly close to taking his first Tour de France stage victory when he was beaten in a photo finish by Rigoberto Uran on stage nine. He made amends on stage 13 in front of fanatic French crowds on Bastille Day. Barguil demonstrated foresight and a cool head in the final technical section before outsprinting Contador, Quintana and Landa to take his first of two stages on this year’s Tour. After coming so close just days before, Barguil’s elation was great to see.
Peter Sagan at his unbeatable best…briefly
Peter Sagan was widely touted as a favourite for the majority of the 21 stages of this year’s Tour, capable of competing with the best on all but the longest and steepest climbs. Stage three in particular was right up his street. With a short punchy uphill finish too hard for sprinters such as Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish, Sagan was the overwhelming favourite for the stage. All was going well for the Slovakian, and he looked destined for victory, until he pulled his foot out of the pedal when he started sprinting. With his rivals closing rapidly, the world champion was anything but concerned. He was soon clipped back in and retaining his blistering speed, holding off Greg Van Avermaet and a charging Michael Matthews to win by a bike length before celebrating in typical Sagan style.
Own a bit of history with the very bikes paraded around France by all your favourite riders. Here are just a few that are too good to miss.
Photo credit: roth-photo.be