Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and a particular Belgian rider in the breakaway.
There’s no doubting Thomas De Gendt is the attacker du Tour. According to L’Equipe this morning, he had spent 862 kilometres in breaks during the 2017 race. Chalk that up to four figures tonight after his involvement in a 20-man escape on the road to Salon-de-Provence.
As surely the last chance for a breakaway to go to the line, it was a hotly-contested affair. De Gendt made the first split then accelerated four kilometres out.
A minute after he had been shut down by an Orica-Scott rider, the race was decided by something as innocuous as going the right way round the roundabout.
So, for all his kilometres bludgeoning away in front this month, De Gendt will likely emerge with no stage win or even a day in a jersey. Yet he is third in the King of the Mountains competition and seventh in the points competition. Surely someone can fashion him a combination jersey [Ed – a fashion eyesore that died out after the 1989 race]?
“This guy is quite amazing. I think he has a different way of feeling pain,” André Greipel said post-stage. He and the rest of Lotto-Soudal will hope for another last-gasp victory on the Champs-Elysées to salvage their Tour.
At the very least, De Gendt deserves the overall Combativity Award in Paris. Just as he did last year, when it was given to Romain Bardet instead. A French race being favourable to its own riders? Mais non!
So, here’s something nobody can take away from De Gendt: our Top Banana award.
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
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