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Tour de France - the race so far

Former professional, UK cycling legend and now Assistant Manager for the JLT Condor team, Dean Downing writes exclusively for Leigh Day, giving his views on this year's Tour de France so far.

Le Tour had its second rest day of the three-week bike race yesterday and begins again today with a mountainous stage to Finhaut-Emosson. It is interesting on a rest day to see how some of the riders jumped on their bikes for an hour or so, and some suggest to the press that they would sleep all day. 

It’s been a great two weeks, Great Britain have done well with Cav, who has now left the Tour to concentrate on the Olympics, winning four stages. Steve Cummings taking a stage and Froome leading the way in the yellow jersey.

Also, a certain World Champ, Peter Sagan, has continued to show us all how good he is at bike racing, sprinting and breakaways with multiple stage wins and extending his lead in the Green Jersey competition. 


It’ll come as no shock to many that I love sprint stages.  Cav has come back to his best and taken out four stage wins so far.

Watching the sprints, he no longer has the super-fast lead out train he has had over the years with HTC and Quickstep, but he is still Cav and his self-belief is exceptional.

I think some people really doubted him and thought he was past his best, now they’re having to eat their words.

The way that he has used his team, Team Dimension Data, has been fantastic to watch. It's like he slows everything down in the last 300 meters of the race and all the decisions he has to make in those few seconds, he gets perfectly right. Then he wins by a tyre width.

The finish line is there for a reason I always say, crossing it first is the goal. Cav has had a great tour now onto the Olympics. 


Chris Froome has also come into the press too. Over the years Froome has been given a tag of being a boring bike rider along with Team Sky. But in this year’s Tour I have to say, they have attacked the race and set it up nicely for Froome to take stage wins and the jersey.

They have also sat on front of the GC group and crunched the power meter data to minimize being attacked by any other GC contenders. That's racing nowadays. 

Froome's descending style also raised some eyebrows on stage 8. He sald he thought he would have a bit of fun. I was watching the TV thinking, Don't try this at home kids.

However, as we have seen on social media, plenty of amateur riders went out the next day and had a go at the Froome pedaling action. 

My opinion, I think the gains are exceedingly minimal and don’t justify the dangers of amateur riders trying to copy him on local club runs.

The future

A surprise to most people will be Adam Yates and his current GC position, 3rd, he will be looking to hold onto a podium place into Paris and his white jersey as best young rider. 

I know a few of Yates training partners and over the last few years he has worked so hard on every aspect of cycling and he is a truly talented climber and he has proved that by sticking with the best in the business.

Anoither evelation to many during the opening sprint stages was Dan McLay from Leicestershire who got a 3rd place on stage 6 and had two other Top 10 places during the first week.

These riders are the future of British riders in the Tour.

Running man

I just want to touch on what happened on Mont Ventoux and the infamous running Froomey incident. 

So many things went wrong that day. 

6km was cut off the top of the climb, that means 6km worth of spectators needed to find a place to watch, but some of them don't just watch, they want to be involved, run alongside with banners, get their face on TV.

This is what causes dangers for the riders, and the motorbikes not being able to get through the crowds means they get too close to the riders and this needs to be addressed.

The crash with Porte, Froome and Mollema could have been so much worse, but the quick thinking of Froome was amazing, showing the fans and cycling world how much he is willing to fight for the yellow jersey. 

He was looking for space to get the cars through and get his bike, he knew what he was doing and needed to get away from the bottleneck.

I have no idea how he ran up a 10% plus gradient of Mont Ventoux in cleats, I can barely ride that fast up a climb like that on my pro compact chainset, yes I have a 36 inner ring on my bike now. 

It’s been a great race so far, let's hope we have some more attacking from all the big guns in the world’s biggest bike race. 

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