The Tour de France may run for just three weeks, but the thrills, the spills and all the nonstop action is what makes July’s racing some of the best on the sporting calendar. The 2018 edition certainly didn’t disappoint…
Week one: the sprinters prevail
The first week of the 2018 Tour de France was dominated by the sprinters with the opening two stages in particular proving perfect territory for them to plant their feet into the early general classification (GC) battle. Fernando Gaviria proved to be the fastest on day one, taking the stage win and the first yellow jersey for Colombia since 2003. He couldn’t keep it for long however, as the then five-time green jersey champion, Peter Sagan, took the win on stage two to snatch the yellow jersey straight from his shoulders.
Both riders would go on to take one more stage win apiece in the first week of racing. Aboard their brand new Specialized Venges, both Sagan and Gaviria appeared to be matched in terms of straight line speed, adding even more credibility to the new model’s claims of founding a whole ‘new shape of speed’.
With the sprinters teams eager to get off the mark early, no breakaways were allowed to prevail. That didn’t stop Trek Segafredo’s Tom Skuijns from having his fun however. Snatching a small tally of KOM points, Skuijns soon became the first ever Latvian to wear a leader’s jersey at the Tour de France. His already flashy Trek Madone received one hell of a paintjob for the rest of the first week, with spotted decals stretching all across the machine.
Trek tasted even more success before the first rest day with John Degenkolb taking an emotional victory on stage nine’s cobbled test to Roubaix. Rocking the cobble-munching Trek Domane, Degenkolb beat Belgium’s best, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors), in a sprint for the stage victory – his first ever at the Tour de France.
Week two: the GC ignites
Before the race entered the second week, the GC teams had remained relatively quiet, yet to unleash their full strength. That soon ended as the race hit the Alps and a trio of super-tough mountain stages which sparked the fire in Team Sky and their train of super sleek but deadly Pinarello Dogma F10s. Their strength came from an unexpected rider however as four-time champion Chris Froome watched his Welsh understudy, Geraint Thomas, disappear up the road. The Welshman took the stage win and yellow jersey on La Rosière before doubling up on the infamous Alpe d’Huez just a day later, becoming the first rider to win back-to-back summit finishes at the Tour since Joop Zoetemelk in 1975.
The rest of the week was animated by the French swashbuckler, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), the enigmatic breakaway rider going onto take his first emotional Tour de France stage win – and first of two of the 2018 race – and with it, the polka-dot jersey. Aboard the versatile Specialized Tarmac, Alaphilippe crushed both the climbs and the downhills in characteristic aggressive fashion.
Week three: unwavering in yellow
The race soon hit the Pyrenees and offered one last chance for the struggling GC riders to knock the stubborn Thomas off the top spot. Despite spirited efforts from Tom Dumoulin, Primoz Roglic and Dan Martin, the Team Sky super-squad remained resilient, defending Geraint Thomas’ lead across some of the most notorious climbs of the Pyrenees – the Tourmalet, Aubisque and Peyresourde to name a few.
Even on the penultimate stage, the 31km individual time trial, TT specialists Roglic and Dumoulin struggled to put a dint in Thomas’ unassailable lead. Roglic even paid heavily for his stage-winning efforts of the day before and slipped off the podium all together, enabling Chris Froome to join his teammate on the podium.
After the time trial, the Welshman finally allowed himself to admit and believe that he had done it; he had won the biggest race of them all; he would stand on top of the world in Paris. From day one he had been unwavering, immovable and strong – without a doubt the star of the 2018 race.
The Tour de France has long been a perfect proving ground for new tech and this year saw many new bikes hit the pro peloton, many of which are already available at the Bike Factory. Check out the full range of road bikes here.