Lizzie Deignan can do many things, but she is not renowned for being a champion grimpeur in the high mountains.
So, before the start of La Course, a 67-kilometre race from Briançon to the Col d’Izoard, she talked of acting as a domestique for Boels-Dolmans team-mate and former Giro winner Megan Guarnier.
A bluff? Seemingly not. Even during the race, she backed up those words with action, setting a searing pace on the early kilometres of the Izoard that burned opponents away.
Rather than swing over for the American, she kept on with the attrition till there was a select group of favourites – and no more Guarnier.
Deignan couldn’t respond to Annemiek van Vleuten’s winning move four kilometres from the finish, but she left Shara Gillow behind to finish second. Clearly, she didn’t recognise her own astonishing strength.
“I was really good today. I messed up by being a domestique and then a leader, I did too much work today. That’s my own fault for not having confidence in myself,” she told ITV4 after the race.
Back yourself in the future, Lizzie. For a champion who proved she can do it all, here’s a Top Banana to replenish energy for the forthcoming La Course time-trial in Marseille.
The Rouleur Top Banana goes to an unsung hero of each stage of the Tour de France – not the winner, not the yellow jersey – but a rider whose efforts deserve recognition.