Wow. How revealing was the first stage of serious climbing at the Tour? I thought it might take both of the weekend stages to sort the wheat from the chaff. But one was enough. So what did last night teach us?
1. The bookies were right. Chris Froome is in a class of his own this year. Even with two weeks still to go until Paris surely only bad luck (always possible, of course) can beat him.
2. Richie Porte will be the second Australian to win the Tour de France. It’s just a matter of when. Based on the strength of his riding last night you’d have to say he could well have won this one under different circumstances, just like Froome with Wiggins last year.
3. The pint-sized Columbian rider Nairo Quintana is an A-grade mountain man. Incredible ride up the Col de Pailhères, the first HC ascent of this year’s race. We like him.
4. Of all Froome’s rivals, Quintana’s Movistar team-mate, Valverde, was really the only one to show anything like the form or ticker needed to beat them.
5. Evans, Schleck and, in all likelihood, Contador can’t win the Tour unless the Sky train completely derails.
6. Rodriguez isn’t right. Last night was the perfect opportunity for the Spaniard to show something. Anything. Maybe he should have gone to the Giro, after all?
7. BMC were right to back Evans over Van Garderen. He isn’t going to win now, of course, but Evans’ form seems far superior to that of the young American – plus everyone else on his team. Losing all of your support riders on the day’s first climb isn’t very helpful. Almost as bad as dropping 30 seconds in a TTT, hey Cadel?
8. Daryl Impey is one tough bastard. Did you see him hanging on to the selection by his fingernails last night as the roads reached for the heavens? He’s a sprinter for crissakes. Fantastic courage, a whole suitcase of it.