Setting the Tone
The blood bath of the Roubaix stage started early. It changed the Tour even before it was expected to do.
Porte (BMC Racing) is out. An unfortunate early crash put an end to his Tour hope for the second straight year. That it happened even before the cobbles is even more unfortunate.
For all the fretting about the dangerous narrow roads in Brittany and before the peloton even hit the cobbles, it’s a reminder how dangerous professional bike racing can be, how it’s often not the course, but the riders (and I’m not blaming Porte by any means) that make the race.
Porte and Rojas’s (Movistar) abandonment change the dynamic of the race. It’s again up to Nibali (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team), Quintanna (Movistar), and maybe Thomas (Sky) to challenge Froome. Alaphilippe (QuickStep Floor) might be in the mix too, but Froome’s route to the top step of the podium just got a whole lot easier.
The cobbles bit early and hard. Bardet and Greipel both had mechanicals on the first sector (15)—as did one of the riders in the early break. Both Bardet and Greipel had teammates near so the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it along with the Porte crash served to put the peloton on notice. And for Bardet it would be a foreshadowing of things to come.
Other early victims included Groenewegen (Lotto Jumbo) who was caught up in a bad crash exiting a section (13). His crash may seal his fate of not making it through the Alps.
After that, it became easier to keep track of who didn’t crash. Or flat. Or break a wheel. Or themselves.
Deep into the Cobbles
On Sector 4, Greg Van Avermaet attacked with Landa group chasing. He got away with two other riders—John Degenkol (Trek–Segafredo) and Yves Lampaert (QuickStep Floors) and despite Sagan’s best efforts and despite Gilbert trying to chase down his own teammate, it was to be the move of the day. Even Greipel tried his hand in bringing the three back. Problem was of the three—two of them were past winners of Paris-Roubaix. And they worked well together—because they knew what it takes to win Roubaix.
For the rest of the groups, it became day of survival and hoping to limit losses as well as licking of wounds.
Besides John Degenkol, other winners of the day were Froome, Quintana, Valverde, and Gaviria. QuickStep didn’t get the win, but they got in the final break, shut down Sagan, and despite Gilbert’s freelancing, generally rode as a team.
Greg van Avermaat. He holds his Yellow Jersey, showed a lot of grit, and at least got something for BMC Racing on day that was otherwise a disaster.
Movistar. They survived and in doing so stopped the bleeding of their early mistakes.
Trek, finally getting a good cobblestone win.
Landa, Bardet, and Uran. Tejay van Garderen. Not sure why van Garderen gets his own line, but he does.
Heading to the Mountains
There are a lot of teams who will be severely depleted heading into the mountains. What BMC Racing does for the rest of the Tour is a mystery. Maybe they’re fooling themselves that Tejay van Garderen will get into and stay with a break that claws back a good chunk of his six minutes? Right, that’ll happen. More likely Damiano Caruso will win a mountain stage for BMC.