2016 Tour de France stages 18 and 19

Phew! Busy last couple of days at the Tour. Yesterdays time trial was a 17km affair that was primarily uphhill. It was business as usual for the GC favorites with Chris Froome taking the win and Tom Dumoulin having to settle for 2nd. Dumoulin sat in the hot seat for the better part of the day and had to wait til all the riders save yellow jersey Froome were in. His time stood up to some very good riders and only Chris Froome could unseat him.

Today was a 146km stage with 13,000 feet of climbing with the final climb being a particular bit of nastiness. With atrocious weather the roads were absolutely treacherous and lots of riders found themselves on the ground, including race leader Chris Froome. On a rapid descent Froome crossed the white center line and lost the front wheel. After looking at his bike he realized it was unrideable and he was forced to mount Geraint Tomas bike. Its no accident that Geraint was near Froome. A rider of similar size will be required to stay near the leader for just such an incident. Froome managed to make it all the way to the finish on this bike with the help of his teammate Pouwels.

The attacks came thick and fast from all corners and the Sky riders earned their salaries today containing the race. In the end, Romain Bardet with AG2R soloed in for the win. Bauke Mollema crashed and never made it back into the race. Adam Yates was penalized 10sec for a hand  sling from another rider and Quintana lost a few seconds in the final 2km. Bardet vaults into 2nd on the GC, Mollema falls outside the top 10 on GC and Quintana now lies in 3rd. It was a shuffling of the deck that reshaped the podium. There is only one more day for Porte, Yates and Quintana to try and move themselves back onto the podium.

Tomorrorow (Saturday) brings another day of ridiculous climbing. 146.5km with 4 major climbs will test everyone in the race. Froome and his Sky men will have their hands full as the rest of the field will try and shuffle the standings in their last opportunity. You can be sure that there will be some hail mary's from Astana, Movistar, BMC and Trek. I think we can look to a rider like Rodriguez with Katusha or one of the AG2R riders to win the stage. Froome will only be interested in monitoring the riders that could threaten his yellow jersey. This will provide and opportunity for other riders to go for the stage win. 

PS. Too bad about Tom Dumoulin having to abandon the Tour with a fractured wrist. This is concerning because he is the favorite at the Olympics Time Trial. Lets hope he can recover in time.