Tour de France 2020

Active Pass roundtable: Who grabs the final Tour de France podium spot in Paris?

In today's Active Pass roundtable, one reader wants to know whether Romain Bardet will fit in at Sunweb. Another reader guesses which GC star will grab the final Tour de France podium spot in Paris.

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You have questions about the 2020 Tour de France, and we have answers and educated opinions. Our veteran reporters, Andrew Hood and James Startt, are fielding your biggest inquiries each day in this Active Pass roundtable column. Today, one reader wants to know whether Romain Bardet is a good fit for Sunweb, while another challenges us to choose the final podium finisher in Paris.

OK, let’s get to your questions!

Sunweb are having a great Tour and seem to have found their groove hunting stages. In light of their apparent new focus, was it a mistake for Roman Bardet to join them now?

Romain Bardet
Romain Bardet is headed to Sunweb for 2021. Photo: James Startt

Andrew Hood @eurohoody: Not at all. I think the move is smart for both Sunweb and Bardet. It will be good for Bardet to have a fresh start. He had so much pressure on him at AG2R-La Mondiale as France’s “next big thing” that he will be able to be part of a larger team at Sunweb without having all the pressure on him alone. Even with Bardet, the team will continue to race aggressively. It’s a young team in a rebuilding mode, so bringing on Bardet gives the team some heft at the top. The move will allow its developing stars room to move.

James Startt: Not at all. It’s a great team for Bardet and really suits his mentality. Bardet too can be a stage hunter, but that said, a team that hunts stages this year could well coalesce into a GC team if Bardet has the goods. He was riding tremendously before his crash on the stage to Puy Mary, and could have been in the GC mix this year. But that’s just a “could-have.” Anyway, next year is another year. Just last year Egan Bernal appeared to be the next Tour de France king — much less so this year. A lot can happen in a year.

There have been a lot of explanations for Bernal/Ineos’ implosion today, from COVID-19, to the death of Nico Portal, to the decision to leave Thomas off the team. What, in your opinion, is the biggest reason?

The day was not kind to Egan Bernal, who lost 7:22 in the general standings after crumbling on the Grand Colombier.

Andy: To be honest, it’s been hard to say because we’ve had little opportunities to have any real substantive conversations with anyone at this Tour. Typically, journalists are mixing in with sport directors and staffers to have a better understanding of what’s going. This year, with the COVID-19 bubble, we might get two or three questions to ask before a stage start to a rider, so you’re not going to get that much. Hopefully we can get some answers in the coming days. It’s clear a lot of things went wrong, but the most obvious is that Bernal simply didn’t have the legs to match Jumbo-Visma.

James: He has got bad legs! I don’t think there is an answer right now. He was racing very well at the start of the new re-booted season. Perhaps his back injury is more serious than expected. He said at the beginning of the Tour it was still not 100 percent. Or perhaps he just got beat by a better team and better riders. Obviously once the dust settles, both he and his team will be due for a bit of introspective searching. And if they don’t understand what went wrong, they will simply repeat the same errors again and it will be the end of an era.

Who gets the third spot on the podium and why?

. Photo: Benoit Tessier – Pool/Getty Images The good news: Porte just might be the third-best climber in the race. At the very least, Porte was the third-best climber (of the GC crew) on Friday, and he rode much of the final two kilometers of the climb within spittin’ distance of Roglič and Pogačar. He finished just 13 seconds behind the Slovenian duo and jumped up two spots on GC into 9th place overall. And guess what: The top-5 is less than a minute away. While Porte is unlikely to make the podium, the top-5 is now very doable for Porte. The positivity of such a situation cannot be underestimated, as Porte is likely to surrender his place as a GC rider after this season to become a worker bee for a younger star as he’s set to leave Trek-Segafredo. The bad news: Porte lost valuable teammate Bauke Mollema to a crash on Friday. Mollema crashed and reportedly broke his wrist, and is now out of the race. This is a major setback for Porte, as Mollema was among the strongest superdomestiques in the bunch. Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) Urán is now in a position to strike the podium. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images The good news: Rigo! Rigo! Rigo! Urán’s awesome Tour de France continues, and on Friday he climbed his way into fourth place overall, leaping ahead two spots on GC. He’s now just 11 seconds off the podium. And Urán’s EF Pro Cycling teammate Dani Martínez won the stage, giving the pink squad a much-needed boost of positive vibes for the final push into the Alps. Another podium place at the Tour de France would cap off what’s already been a superb career for Urán. The bad news: There’s no bad news for Rigoberto Urán. Venga! Miguel Ángel López (Team Astana) López rebounded from his setbacks in the Pyrenees. Photo: Benoit Tessier – Pool/Getty Images The good news: López rebounded from his dismal showing in the Pyrénées to finish as the fifth-best GC rider on the road. He even finished ahead of Bernal. This ride should equate to a boost of confidence for López after that bad ride up Marie-Blanque. He moved up three spots in the standings, and now sits in 6th place on GC, 1:31 down. The bad news: López had a good day. No real bad news for him, other than he’s climbing out of the hole from Marie-Blanque. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) Bardet struggled on Friday and saw his GC ambitions tumble. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat – Pool/Getty Images The good news: Like Martin, no good news for Romain Bardet today. The bad news: Bardet’s run at the Tour de France podium ended on the climb up to the Col de Maronne, before the final push to Puy Mary. When Ineos Grenadiers went on the front, Bardet simply couldn’t hang, and he got dropped. He lost 2:33 to Roglič and slipped seven spots on GC to 11th place overall, 3:00 down. All of France shed a tear for Bardet. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) Landa continued to chip away at his GC standing. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images The good news: Landa again showed that he’s amongst the best climbers in the race. No, he couldn’t follow Pogačar’s explosive jump on Puy Mary, but he made a major push to finish alongside Porte, just behind the Slovenian duo. He was stronger than even Bernal on the big climb. Remember the #freelanda twitter campaign that was funny for five minutes a few years ago? Hey, Landa looks truly free on these climbs, and he’s now making a big push for the top-five. He moved up two spots and is now in 8th place on GC, just 45 seconds from fifth. The bad news: Landa is very strong! But he’s not strong enough to win the Tour de France.
Porte has the final podium in his sights. Photo: Benoit Tessier – Pool/Getty Images

Andy: From what riders have been telling me in the bunch is that Miguel Ángel López is climbing the best of that podium group. Wednesday should see at least a few of those podium contenders to get dropped. Thursday’s stage is brutal, and after a long Tour, it’s likely few will have the legs to attack. So the final TT should decide things. On paper, the TT should favor Richie Porte. But a late time trial is more about fitness than technique, so I’m guessing it will be Porte or López.

James: Rigoberto Urán. He is only getting better and experienced when it comes to grand tour podiums. And it will be well deserved after a long comeback from injury. That said I would love to see Richie Porte get it. He also deserves a grand tour podium finish after all of these years.

 

If you have any thoughts on ways to do so, feel free to email me at webletters@velonews.com.