On a savage day of non-stop action and relentless attacking, it was no surprise to see a Direct Énergie man in the mix.
Thomas Voeckler gave it his best this week, it was Yohann Gène’s turn yesterday, and the wily veteran Sylvain Chavanel made a fistful of efforts to get away today in the frantic opening 50km.
But it was the 24-year-old Lilian Calmejane who emerged alone to take on the race in the closing stages.
The six foot-tall Frenchman has come on leaps and bounds this season. He kicked off by winning the Étoile de Bessèges in February, followed up with the Settimana Internazionale di Coppi e Bartali the next month, and took the Circuit de la Sarthe to add to his Vuelta stage win the previous year.
He also landed the combativity prize on stage 3 to Longwy, having jumped across to the break then pressed on solo, only to be swept up with 10km remaining.
He is a genuine talent who can only improve in the next two or three years once he has more Grand Tour experience under his belt.
When agonising cramps hit Calmejane legs with 5km remaining, we thought the game might be up for the bold attacker. Thankfully not.
We know what you’re thinking: the Top Banana doesn’t go to the stage winner. But in this instance it most certainly does. Rules were made to be broken, and Calmejane just gave us no choice.
It may be the first banana he has won, but it won’t be the last.
Tour de France 2017: Rouleur Top Bananas
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