Top Banana: Tour de France stage 5 – Tom Skujiņš

“when the stomach gives out, the legs dont get any powa. Need to refuel with some potatoes.” (sic)

So Tweeted Tom Skujiņš on Sunday after enduring a torrid start to the 2019 Tour de France. Although the latter wisdom is rather specific to the Latvian, the first statement is undeniable and universal, even if it is unlikely to feature in a training manual or inspirational poster any time soon.

Many of us will know the unpleasant regret of an overly-optimistic “it’ll be alright” before heading out on a ride with a dodgy stomach, but Skujiņš didn’t let tummy troubles get him down. No, he rather revelled in his temporary position as the lanterne rouge – his second stint at the top/bottom of a Tour classification after the five days he spent in the polka dot jersey last year.

The tubers seemingly helped though and he didn’t hold that position for long. The Trek Segafredo rider provided the only real entertainment on Stage 5 before the final kilometre, where Peter Sagan won convincingly in the sprint to tighten his perennially firm grip on the green jersey.

The hills on the parcours had given some hope that the day might bring some surprises, but none of Skujiņš’ companions in the most perfunctory of breakaways, or the chasing peloton seemed prepared to move out of the ‘safety first’ zone.

For providing a modicum of animation to an otherwise staid stage, Tom Skujiņš is our Top Banana today. Or should that be Top Potato?

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


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