Top Banana: Tour de France stage 17 – Kasper Asgreen
Kasper Asgreen got signed up in the spring of 2018 by Quick Step more through chance than design – it was essentially due to an injury crisis that saw the likes of Petr Vakoc, Laurens De Plus and Dries Devnyns all sidelined with serious injuries and a spot being freed up.
After racing for them from April 1, but he’s proved no fool. The Dane has enjoyed one of the most meteoric rises in pro cycling. In a little over twelve months, he has finished second at the Tour of Flanders, won a Tour of California stage and been hyper-visible at this, his first Tour de France. Little wonder he signed an extension at Deceuninck recently.
Before Alaphilippe and their Tour took flight, he helped power the squad to third in the TTT. Then, he served as dream team-mate for the Frenchman and Elia Viviani, doing hard kilometres on the front to ride down breakaways.
Asgreen doesn’t seem to do rest. Soft-pedal the time-trial around Pau? No thanks; he was eighth. Tap along with team-mates on the sweltering 17th stage to Gap, saving energy? He preferred to infiltrate a chunky, world-class breakaway and put several more experienced Tour stage winners – Van Avermaet, Mollema, Boasson Hagen and Teuns – to the sword.
All but the strong, smart Matteo Trentin, who jumped early and decisively. His 24-year-old rival may rue attacking so late on the day’s final challenge, the Sentinelle, but it looked like the best man won in Gap.
After his second place, he confessed to Eurosport it wasn’t the plan to get in the break. Was Asgreen’s apparent carte blanche before the decisive Alpine stages a sign that Alaphilippe knows the end is nigh? We’ll see very soon. The dazzling Dane will certainly need this Top Banana for added energy.
And looking longer term, just how far can all-rounder Asgreen go? At this rate of progression, he’s looking like becoming Kasper the friendly G.O.A.T.
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
Rouleur Top Bananas 2019:
Stage 1 – Greg Van Avermaet
Stage 2 – Tony Martin
Stage 3 – Michael Matthews
Stage 4 – Max Richeze
Stage 5 – Toms Skuiņš
Stage 6 – Geraint Thomas
Stage 7 – Wout van Aert
Stage 8 – Thomas de Gendt
Stage 9 – Jasper Stuyven
Stage 10 – Luke Rowe
Stage 11 – Emanuel Buchmann
Stage 12 – Matteo Trentin
Stage 13 – Enric Mas
Stage 14 – David Gaudu
Stage 15 – Lennard Kämna
Stage 16 – Lotto-Soudal
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