Fri, 23 Oct 2020

Cycling's rescheduled

The Jumbo horror story provides Brailsford with convenient cover but his Ineos team can point to a number of mitigating circumstances.

The 2019 champion, Colombia's Egan Bernal, came into the race nursing a bad back, and was robbed of his two key mountain sherpas when a deluge in Nice saw Pavel Sivakov and Richard Carapaz fall heavily.

It must also be said the team were mourning the loss of one of their own, after the untimely passing of sports director Nicolas Portal in March.

Brailsford opened up to AFP about this loss in Pau on stage nine, and the impression was of a man whose heart might not have been fully on the task at hand.

Bernal's collapse on a mountainside with Jumbo skipping towards a summit was agony to watch.

Brailsford withdrew his leader and refocused the team that earned some scant recompense on the final Alpine stage with a stage win and the polka dot jersey.

French capitulation

The French cycling community were lulled into believing their beloved but emotional climber Thibaut Pinot was about to finally deliver.

He too fell in the deluge at Nice where a fellow rider hit him square in the back. He struggled on into the Pyrenees but soon fell off the pace.

"There have been too many failures," he said when his 2020 chances were over. "This might be it for me".

Julian Alaphilippe did get the yellow jersey on stage two in the hills behind Nice, but was stripped of it a couple of stages later with a petty time penalty for taking on water in the wrong place.

Pogacar's crushing of Roglic on the Planche des Belles Filles is not only one of the sports stories of the year, it also marks a generational shift to the ascendency of younger riders, following as it does the now dated story of Bernal's success a year ago at 22.

"I'm just a kid from Slovenia," the Tour's youngest post-World War II winner said on Saturday, unaware of the extent to which his life is likely to change.

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