A tense final time trial saw the final GC come down to a matter of seconds over the cobbles and hills of Marseille.
The Lanterne Rouge, Luke Rowe, led the 167 remaining riders off on the final 22.5km of hard racing in this year’s Tour. The Team Sky domestique was the first rider in the hot seat after setting a time of 31’09”, but was only there for a short period of time after 4th depart Robert Wagner set a 30’34”. Taylor Phinney was the first rider to set a sub-30 minute time, with a 29’21”.
The time trial was relatively incident-free compared to the wet and crash-burdened Stage 1. Olivier Le Gac had a small crash on the course, while Jonathan Castroviejo missed a piece of concrete on the road at the exit of the velodrome and crashed at the start. Pierre Latour had a small tumble on the descent of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, and Rigoberto Uran had a run in with the barriers on the final turn of the course, overshooting the corner like many other riders. In terms of mechanical errors, Primoz Roglic had the most notable mechanical fault on the flats just before the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde climb, but was still able to finish with a 29’04”.
It was a day for the Polish riders though. Maciej Bodnar started pretty early on in the day, but was 3 seconds faster than Phinney at the 1st time check at 10.5km, and by the finish had put a minute into the American who was in the hot seat at the time after a blistering final section. He finished with a 28’15”. His countryman Michal Kwiatkowski was 2 seconds faster on the 2nd time check on the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, but lost 3 seconds in the final sector to finish 1 second behind Bodnar on 28’16”.
However, the eyes weren’t on the stage win, it was on the GC. Rigoberto Uran had a blistering time trial besides his small run-in with the barriers. Chris Froome had a very solid time trial, setting the 2nd fastest time at the first time check and the 4th fastest on the top of the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. However, Frenchman Romain Bardet struggled in the heat and the pressure got to him. He lost 2 minutes on Froome and was almost over taken on the road, but managed to hold onto his podium spot by 1 second from Mikel Landa.
It wasn’t any of these riders who took the stage win though. None of the GC contenders managed to rival the time of Bodnar, and the Pole could make up for his heartbreak earlier this Tour. Special mention to Alberto Contador riding a time trial akin to his form of 7 years ago, and Yates and Meintjes for providing a great show down for the White Jersey. With both riders setting the same time in the end at 29’49”, Yates was able to retain his White Jersey – and proved that whatever Adam can do, Simon can do as well.
Tomorrow sees the riders do the victory lap into Paris. With a sprint show down on the Champs-Elysses, it gives the riders time to take in the glory of finishing a massive 3 week cycling race. It’s truly the pinnacle of the sport, and now the riders will be able to see the results of the hard 21 days of racing.