PEZ Tour Preview Un-Picked It must be great to have a crystal ball or the benefit of Clairvoyance, Ed Hood has the next best thing – Insight and experience. Let’s look back at the Tour de France predictions from the ‘PEZ sage’ and see how close he came to picking ‘who was hot’ and who wasn’t.
You can read ‘Ed’s 2019 Tour de France Preview’ HERE.
Egan Bernal – An Ed **** four-star rider
We write so many race previews in a year; confidently asserting who’s gonna do what. But we rarely revisit them to see if what we said actually came to pass. Let’s go back to the 2019 Tour de France and see how we did. . .
Egan Bernal – A big future
First up on four stars we had a dude called Egan Bernal (Ineos and Colombia); folks were saying he was too young and fragile to win a three week race – they got that wrong. We saw the way he won Paris-Nice and Suisse, ‘he’s the real deal, that one,’ we thought to ourselves. Despite to odd stumble, the partnership with Ineos team mate Geraint Thomas worked well – you can’t get much better that first and second in a Grand Tour. . .
The win and second overall for Ineos
Also on four stars we had Jakob Fuglsang (Astana and Denmark) with whom we didn’t do so well; a sparkling spring and Dauphine win had us thinking he’s stepped up a level and was going to one of ‘the men.’ Wrong! And those horrible letters ‘DNF’ appear beside his name on the finish sheet. But what we did get right is that ANY stage in le Tour can be dangerous and end your chances – the Dane paid the price for sitting too far in the peloton on Stage One, came down and was never really in it again; a second crash later in the race saw him on the plane home.
Jakob Fuglsang – Bad luck from the start
We gave Geraint Thomas (Ineos and Wales) three stars with the comment that; “If you’ve ever raced and won a wee bit then you’ll know that, ‘state of grace’ when the pedals feel light and the pain is sweet, that of swift progress over the tar”. That was Thomas, last year – this year we’re not to so sure.’ Even the man himself said that it just ‘hasn’t been his year.’ However, second in le Tour can hardly be considered a disaster and if you’d suggested it was possible to that young team pursuiter we interviewed on his first Tour back in 2007, he’d have laughed at you. Next year? Froome will be back and there’s the matter of Bernal. . .
Second overall for Geraint Thomas
Also on three stars we had Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ and France) who had us ‘believing’ until that muscle injury saw him climb off in tears. Was this misfortune part of his rite of passage to ultimate yellow in Paris or a man doomed never to stand on the podium? We hope it’s the former.
Pinot – Could have been a contender
Sharing the three star billing we had Roman Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale and France) – yes, there was the consolation of the maillot poids to save the race for his team but a very disappointing ride into 15th spot for a man who has twice stood on the podium.
Romain Bardet – KOM, but no podium
‘Disastrous’ is the only way to describe our next three star man’s Tour – Adam Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT and GB). It’s hardly been mentioned in the afterglow of a Tour which saw the team win four stages courtesy two by Yates ‘bruv,’ one form Daryl Impey and one from Euro Champ Matteo Trentin; but Yates is a man who was just off the podium some three years ago. No doubt the hard questions will already have been asked – and lessons learned.
Adam Yates – In the shadows
We fared better with fellow two star rider, Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma and The Netherlands), the man with the big diesel engine, who’s very difficult to drop and rides a decent time test, made the podium. He should already have won the Giro but we fear that this may be, ‘as good as it gets’ for him with Dumoulin set to come aboard the yellow team and Roglic’s full talent yet to be revealed.
Kruijswijk – A good 3rd place, but is he a Grand Tour winner?
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo and Australia) we had on one star and that was really because somehow we always have to mention him; he didn’t disappoint – outside the top 10 and no stage win. Ciccone saved the team’s Tour though with a couple of days ‘en jaune.’ A Tour stage win is no small thing to add to one’s palmarès – but as the Astana spokesman said on the Giro a few years ago after race fave Kreuziger had flopped on GC but won a consolation stage; ‘we didn’t come to this race to win stages. . .’ Insert our one star man, Nairo Quintana (Movistar and Colombia) for Kreuziger in that sentence. It’s a puzzle, a year or two it looked like the top of the podium in Paris was inevitable. Arkéa, next year for the little chap – perhaps not the strongest team but at least there will be just ONE leader.
Quintana – A stage win, but…
Rigoberto Uran – Still popular with the Colombian fans
Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First and Colombia) we had on one star; he came away with seventh – that’s about right and not a bad result for Mr. Vaughters non-big budget team. Also on one star we had Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates and Ireland) who like the rest of his team rode an unremarkable Tour. All down to the sports drinks?
Dan Martin – Not much to report
Nibali never gave up
We mentioned Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida and Italy) in dispatches, saying that he had zero chance on GC due to the demands of the Giro but would stage hunt – correct.
Guillaume Martin – At his level
Wanty-Gobert French hope, Guillaume Martin was 12th and that looks like his level.
Barguil – Flashes of brilliance
French enigma, Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) cracked the top 10 overall which isn’t a bad result for a low budget team but didn’t get the stage win which would have made it a brilliant Tour for them.
Enric Mas had to help Alaphilippe when he could
We wondered what Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Spain) could do – but there was a ‘jour sans’ for him and he was ‘in service’ to another man who we wanted to see how far he could REALLY go.
Alaphilippe – Stunning in the time trial
Monsieur Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step and France) answered that one in full: two stage wins, 14 days in yellow, the most aggressive rider overall and fifth on GC, not to mention being the catalyst in the best Tour for years. We just knew there was more to come. . .
The ‘Man of the Match’
See how Julian Alaphilippe captured the hearts of the Tour (if not the overall) HERE.
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,700 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.