When it’s a long mid-Tour stage through the flat countryside, who are Quick Step gonna call? Not Ghostbusters, but the race’s breakaway buster extraordinaire: Julien Vermote.
On every day where there’s a sniff of a bunch sprint, he’s been cranking out the long kilometres for Marcel Kittel. Four days ago, Dutch broadcaster NOS calculated that the Belgian had done 700 kilometres on the front of this year’s Tour. “It’s a long day,” Vermote said, with some understatement.
Today was another 120 or so, keeping the French fodder in front within five minutes, helped by Lotto-Soudal’s Lars Bak and Katusha-Alpecin’s Tiago Machado. With wall-to-wall live coverage of the Tour this year, we are seeing the full extent of their work.
At least for the Belgian rouleur, his team captain’s impressive hitrate must make the hours of hurt more worthwhile. After a comfortable win in Bergerac, it’s four stages and counting now for green machine Kittel.
His ferocious finishing touch wouldn’t be possible without Vermote’s labour. What’s more, he’s a nice guy and very flexible, as editor Ian gleaned after going planking with him in May.
He might just have even more luxuriant hair than Marcel Kittel too. What more could you want from your latest Top Banana winner?
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.
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
The Rouleur Classic, London, November 2-4
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