The first rest day of the 2021 Tour de France has arrived with the race for the yellow jersey well and truly over.
History does warn us that we might see a change of winner of this race in the courts in 2025 but that is me being cynical and as of yet, other than being the best rider, there is no reason to accuse Tadej Pogacar of anything.
We are all just burned by the past.
The race has had so many great memories that even if the overall might be done and dusted (barring accident), we are not able to complain.
The first days steep finish saw Julian Alaphillippe soar from the front of a disintegrating peloton to win with ease.
A new father he took the time to add a baby sucking its thumb into his celebration, such was the dominance.
We were all waiting for Mathieu van der Poel to win that stage but a mistimed incident (not that crash the other one that took out Chris Froome) saw him with too much ground to make up.
He put it right on day 2 with the Mur de Bretagne being climbed twice.
It looked like madness on the first time up when MVDP shot clear only to be caught over the summit. But he had it under control having snatched a hand full of bonus seconds which meant that when he went up the climb the second time attacking in virtually the same spot he knew he could pull out enough of a gap to get the jersey from Julian.
As he flew over the line his arm shot skywards in homage to his grandfather, Raymond Poulidor. Multi times runner up in the Tour without ever getting the jersey.
Having sadly died before getting the chance to see Mathieu compete in the Tour, his grandson shed tears of joy and of grief at the end of the stage.
The other big story to come out of week one has been the resurgence of Mark Cavendish.
He had been long since written off and even threatened retirement in a tough to hear interview with Flemish TV at the end of 2020.
Quickstep rescued him from the Bahrain team and in the early season Belgian classics he was working hard and getting his nose into the wind as training.
He came close on a number of occasions before winning four stages of the Tour of Turkey.
He returned to that road captain, domestique role again for a few weeks before winning the final stage of the Tour of Belgium.
The injury to Sam Bennett opened the door for Cav to make another visit to the worlds biggest race and with 2 stage wins (including the symmetary of a win in Chateauroux where he took his maiden victory), he might not be done yet!
The second weekend of the race took us into the Alps and in protest at most of the famous big climbs being missing it produced some weather that even us Brits who are used to damp summers might complain about.
Dylan Theuns showed his Flandrien heritage by battling through the rain to win in Grand Bornand but the action was behind him with Pogacar romping away from everyone else.
After recent grand tours being settled by seconds, he is now minutes ahead of anyone else who could rival him.
And just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again yesterday on the road into Tignes.
So the yellow jersey race might be done, but let’s look forward to some exciting stages in the coming days and hopefully some better weather!
|1||1||–||POGAČAR Tadej||UAE-Team Emirates||25||34:11:10|
|2||14||▲12||O’CONNOR Ben||AG2R Citroën Team||2:01|
|3||4||▲1||URÁN Rigoberto||EF Education – Nippo||5:18|
|4||5||▲1||VINGEGAARD Jonas||Team Jumbo-Visma||5:32|
|5||6||▲1||CARAPAZ Richard||INEOS Grenadiers||5:33|
|6||8||▲2||MAS Enric||Movistar Team||5:47|
|7||7||–||KELDERMAN Wilco||BORA – hansgrohe||5:58|
|8||3||▼5||LUTSENKO Alexey||Astana – Premier Tech||6:12|
|9||12||▲3||MARTIN Guillaume||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||7:02|
|10||9||▼1||GAUDU David||Groupama – FDJ||7:22|