Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
You have questions about the 2020 Tour de France, and we have answers and educated opinions. Our veteran reporters, Andrew Hood and James Startt, are fielding your biggest inquiries each day in this Active Pass roundtable column. Today, one reader wants to know whether Romain Bardet is a good fit for Sunweb, while another challenges us to choose the final podium finisher in Paris.
OK, let’s get to your questions!
Sunweb are having a great Tour and seem to have found their groove hunting stages. In light of their apparent new focus, was it a mistake for Roman Bardet to join them now?
Andrew Hood @eurohoody: Not at all. I think the move is smart for both Sunweb and Bardet. It will be good for Bardet to have a fresh start. He had so much pressure on him at AG2R-La Mondiale as France’s “next big thing” that he will be able to be part of a larger team at Sunweb without having all the pressure on him alone. Even with Bardet, the team will continue to race aggressively. It’s a young team in a rebuilding mode, so bringing on Bardet gives the team some heft at the top. The move will allow its developing stars room to move.
James Startt: Not at all. It’s a great team for Bardet and really suits his mentality. Bardet too can be a stage hunter, but that said, a team that hunts stages this year could well coalesce into a GC team if Bardet has the goods. He was riding tremendously before his crash on the stage to Puy Mary, and could have been in the GC mix this year. But that’s just a “could-have.” Anyway, next year is another year. Just last year Egan Bernal appeared to be the next Tour de France king — much less so this year. A lot can happen in a year.
There have been a lot of explanations for Bernal/Ineos’ implosion today, from COVID-19, to the death of Nico Portal, to the decision to leave Thomas off the team. What, in your opinion, is the biggest reason?
Andy: To be honest, it’s been hard to say because we’ve had little opportunities to have any real substantive conversations with anyone at this Tour. Typically, journalists are mixing in with sport directors and staffers to have a better understanding of what’s going. This year, with the COVID-19 bubble, we might get two or three questions to ask before a stage start to a rider, so you’re not going to get that much. Hopefully we can get some answers in the coming days. It’s clear a lot of things went wrong, but the most obvious is that Bernal simply didn’t have the legs to match Jumbo-Visma.
James: He has got bad legs! I don’t think there is an answer right now. He was racing very well at the start of the new re-booted season. Perhaps his back injury is more serious than expected. He said at the beginning of the Tour it was still not 100 percent. Or perhaps he just got beat by a better team and better riders. Obviously once the dust settles, both he and his team will be due for a bit of introspective searching. And if they don’t understand what went wrong, they will simply repeat the same errors again and it will be the end of an era.
Who gets the third spot on the podium and why?
Andy: From what riders have been telling me in the bunch is that Miguel Ángel López is climbing the best of that podium group. Wednesday should see at least a few of those podium contenders to get dropped. Thursday’s stage is brutal, and after a long Tour, it’s likely few will have the legs to attack. So the final TT should decide things. On paper, the TT should favor Richie Porte. But a late time trial is more about fitness than technique, so I’m guessing it will be Porte or López.
James: Rigoberto Urán. He is only getting better and experienced when it comes to grand tour podiums. And it will be well deserved after a long comeback from injury. That said I would love to see Richie Porte get it. He also deserves a grand tour podium finish after all of these years.
If you have any thoughts on ways to do so, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.