Cut away. Please, just cut away.
As Romain Bardet battled his bicycle through the closing metres in Marseille, by refusing to switch to a shot of the race leader instead, the Tour’s television directors seemed to reveal a sadistic side.
Or maybe that’s what makes for good TV?
For with second place long lost, it appeared the only drama remaining was whether Bardet would end up being overtaken on the run-in to Stade Vélodrome. Froome, the one man behind him and last to go, had rolled off the ramp a full two minutes after him.
In the end, by sheer force of will, Bardet made it to the line with three seconds to spare. Froome’s own entrance to the stadium, literally in the background, felt like a footnote.
For much of the 22 kilometre course, as he rattled along like a twelve year-old tumble dryer, it seemed the Frenchman would suffer the ultimate humiliation.
Romain Bardet: building the Romain Empire
Indeed, as Froome began the climb towards the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde basilica, Bardet had still to reach the top. Even more agonisingly suspenseful were the final kilometres, which must have felt like the longest, straightest stretch of road he’d ridden in three weeks.
Froome followed Bardet so soon under the kite that it seemed the game was surely up.
He hung on.
As it turned out Bardet was just a single second away from slipping off the podium entirely. Whether it was from that possibility, or the thought of the rapidly approaching Froome, that he summoned one last scrap of strength, summon it he did.
If they expect to ever again win the grande boucle, French riders must realise that they cannot continue to so wilfully neglect the craft of time trialling. In spite of that weakness, for giving it absolutely everything, and because France TV didn’t cut away, Romain Bardet is our Top Banana.
Tour de France 2017: Rouleur Top Bananas
Stage 1 – Taylor Phinney
Stage 2 – Tony Gallopin
Stage 3 – Juraj Sagan
Stage 4 – Guillaume Van Keirsbulck
Stage 5 – Stefan Küng
Stage 6 – Frederik Backaert
Stage 7 – Reinardt Rense van Rensburg
Stage 8 – Lilian Calmejane
Stage 9 – Dan Martin
Stage 10 – Julien Vermote
Stage 11 – Maciej Bodnar
Stage 12 – Steve Cummings
Stage 13 – Alberto Contador
Stage 14 – Warren Barguil
Stage 15 – Michal Kwiatkowski
Stage 16 – Simon Geschke
Stage 17 – Jarlinson Pantano
Stage 18 – Darwin Atapuma
Stage 19 – Thomas De Gendt
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