The Tour de France encourages more armchair punditry and prediction than perhaps any other single sporting event. Largely, I think, because it’s three weeks long.
That leaves a lot of space for chat, counter-chat, and long and winding conclusions about riders, teams, jerseys, rules (written or otherwise), and why there aren’t more horse related jokes about French rider Tony Gallopin.
The longer Stage 19 wound its way toward the town of Salon-de-Provence, the clearer it became that the winner would, today, come from the breakaway. Any debate to the contrary was futile.
With thirty-odd kilometres to go there were twenty in the break (which, by my freshly patented classification system, is officially a ghetto), and they had a lead of over nine minutes.
The photos on social media of yellow jersey Chris Froome high-fiving the devil suggested the peloton weren’t really in the mood for a chase.
But, if ever there were a day you felt duty bound to make a prediction it should’ve been today; finishing, as it did, in the town of Nostradamus’ death.
Back in the 16th Century Nostradamus was the go-to man for predictions.
Depending on who you believe, and how they interpret the works of the great sage, he successfully predicted the Great Fire of London, the rise of Hitler, and the attacks of 9/11, along with lots of plagues, earthquakes and floods.
Strangely, scouring the historic texts I can find no evidence of a flair for predicting bike races. His Yellow Jersey pick for 2017, or any other year, is strangely absent. You’d have thought he’d at least have made an effort for the winner of todays stage, on home territory, wouldn’t you?
Perhaps it’s because our historic French friend tended to focus on predicting bad things.
But in that case you’d think there’d at least be something in there about Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Festina, or the reluctance of AG2R to admit their brown shorts are a poor decision and switch to black.
So, it was left to us mere mortals to scour the list of breakaway (sorry…ghetto) riders mid-stage and pick a winner.
De Gendt? Chavanel? Alabasini?
Edvald Boassen-Hagen, surely.
He’s in great form. He’s had a couple of near misses already. No-one in the group can outsprint him. It was tailor-made for him. He was nailed-on for the win.
The whittled down break reach Salon-de-Provence, where Boassen-Hagen and Nikias Arndt slingshot out into the lead at a well judged roundabout.
And Eddy B-H duly, impressively, rode away for the win.
I saw it coming, you saw it coming, Ned Boulting and David Millar saw it coming, Nikias Arndt saw it coming.
It seems the only person who didn’t was Nostradamus.