Top Banana: Tour de France stage 1 – Greg Van Avermaet

First break of the 2019 race. Wanty-Group Gobert, check. Cofidis, check. Katusha-Alpecin, check. All present and correct. So far, so Le Tour.

But hang on. Who’s this jumping away as soon as the flag is dropped? Greg Van Avermaet, CCC’s team leader, is not supposed to be tearing off up the road when there’s three weeks of blood and thunder yet to be endured. What the heck is he playing at?

Nabbing a jersey as an hors d’oeuvres, that’s what. The Olympic champion is one of the smartest cookies out there when it comes to one-day racing, and no mug when it comes to the Tour either. A stage win in the next week or two is highly likely, but in the meantime, the mountains classification will do very nicely, thank you very much.

The Belgian looked right at home on the cobbles of the Muur, making short work of his three companions, before taking second behind his countryman Xandro Meurisse on the Bosberg.

Job done and polka dot jersey secured, GvA sat up and rejoined the bunch. We’ve the distinct impression he’ll be putting the cat amongst the pigeons a couple more times before we reach Paris. Keep them peeled on Greg – he’s a top banana.


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


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