ysobelle: (Kayli)
[personal profile] ysobelle
Stage 20: Megève to Morzine, 146.5km

We’re about 20 miles to the finish, and in tiny, lovely hamlet streets. It’s lovely. It’s also raining. Yesterday, there was just carnage out there: skin and blood all over the slick roads. It was hideous. Saddest of all, Tom Dumoulin, our time-trial darling, broke his wrist, and was forced to abandon. Dammit.

Back on the last climb today. It is brutal, at times spiking up to a nearly 15% grade. We have two leaders about 1.22 ahead of the peloton. There seem to be fewer crashes, but that could be because the race isn’t on brand-new roads, which get super-slick in the rain. Then again, there’s a big descent coming, so let’s not count on anything.

While Chris Froome has all but sewn up the lead, let’s be honest, everything below him is up for grabs. No one is taking anything for granted. Julian Alaphilippe has made an attack off the front, trying to bridge the gap. Bauke Mollema made an attempt, but Sky is just inexorable, sweeping him up. Pantano has joined Alaphilippe. and Vincenzo Nibali is about to bridge up to them!

NIbali not only joins them, but attacks! Pantano is having none of it, and both he and Alaphilippe drag him back.

The climb notches up a few degrees, and these guys are suffering like hell. Nibali attacks yet again, and this time, Pantano and Alaphilippe just can’t do it. There’s substantial daylight for a while— and amazingly, they all come back together, joined by Izzaguirre, a Spanish rider from Movistar. They’re less than a kilometer to the summit, now. The crowd is closing in, though could be worse, raining as it is.

Behind them, the Yellow Jersey group is made up of fourteen riders. Rafal Majka is there, still in Polka Dots. He’ll be keeping that.

The first four are within the barriers, now, in sight of the banner for the summit. They’re finally through! A pause for some water, and they’re off!

Now the Sky group is over the top. They’ll have to be very careful— it’s a steep descent, and Froome needs to get to the bottom— and the line— safely. No risks, now. Nothing crazy.

Tiny bit of a climb before they’re all set to fall off the mountain, now.

I’m watching the descent, now. It’s almost nauseating— curves, wet roads, and speed. It’s frightening. The first four are falling away from each other. Sky is keeping Froome safe, and not taking any risks— Geraint Thomas leading the way.

4k to the finish. Jon Izaguirre has taken the lead, crossing the line alone after many checks over his shoulder, throwing his arms up with a huge grin! Pantano is twenty seconds behind him, with Nibali in third, Alaphilippe in fourth! And that’s how we finish— with the yellow jersey group following safely afterwards— Dan Martin sprinting to catch up as many seconds as he can.

Chris Froome, as he crosses the line, shakes his head with a smile. He’s just won his THIRD Tour de France. How’s that feel, buddy?

Tomorrow will be a largely ceremonial day for Chris Froome. But he’s the only one who’s going to be able to relax. No one will be able to make up the deficit to him, and no one will really try. But the rest of the podium? The final sprint? Everyone will be in the running— or the cycling— for that. It will, as ever, be beautiful.

Izaguirre celebrates as he crosses the finish line. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images, from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2016/jul/23/tour-de-france-stage-20-live

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