Tour de France 2014: 10 things we have learned

 

Sky must be more flexible

Two big-budget teams lost their contenders early on – but only one still prospered. Bjarne Riis's Tinkoff-Saxo squad recovered from losing Alberto Contador to win three times in the mountains with Michael Rogers and Rafal Majka, after Riis let the deputies off the leash. Sky's Sir Dave Brailsford made Mikel Nieve and Geraint Thomas sacrifice their own ambitions for a sickly Richie Porte after Chris Froome had abandoned.

A Frenchman will win soon enough

This was the Tour when the French returned as a cycling force. Three stage wins, three podium contenders and one white jersey is a greater haul for the hosts than the past five years combined – yet the future promises even greater things. The ability of Thibaut Pinot to race away from Alejandro Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali on Stage 16 suggests he can soon challenge for the yellow jersey.

Inconsistency after Armstrong

There has been a perversely comforting inconsistency to this year's racing. Froome could not repeat his dominance of 2013. Contador appears a spectre of his younger self. The days when a rider could win multiple or even consecutive Tours appear to be over. A cleaner sport is a more unpredictable sport – and a more exciting one too.

Sagan needs to find extra gear

By normal standards, Peter Sagan has enjoyed a massively successful Tour. But norms don't really apply to the Slovak. He can exert his will over the sprinters' points competition for as long as he likes yet it won't compensate for a failure to win stages. It's an odd paradox: the sport's greatest all-round talent must learn the art of victory.

The Tour of illnesses

One by one they fell, like workers at a disease-ridden Victorian penitentiary. This has been the Tour of pulmonary complaints. World champion Rui Costa left with pneumonia; Simon Spilak abandoned with a tummy bug; Porte and Tejay van Garderen had stomach and respiratory issues but they kept racing. To win the Tour you need some luck as well as skill and endurance.

Cobbles provide a bumpy ride

Stage Five was as madly, chaotically brilliant as had been predicted. In dreadful conditions contenders slipped and slid all over the farmers' tracks – and in Froome's case didn't even make it to the pavé at all. Only Vincenzo Nibali of the yellow-jersey favourites brought order to the chaos. The riders hate the cobbles for their race-ending potential. Rightly so.

Good stages come in small packages

Monster mountain stages have their place – but their daunting length tends to encourage defensive riding. To their credit, the Tour organisers have begun to realise that what looks impressive on paper often plays out disappointingly on the road. On the 124km stage to Pla d'Adet, the short distance and plentiful huge climbs provoked attacks from the start.

Just a taste is good for Britain

The Tour's fourth visit to British soil was an unadulterated success. The thousands who lined the routes were in stark contrast to the dour welcome the race received on its return to France. But Britain is crazy for the Tour precisely because we experience it so rarely. Calls for the race to return soon should be tempered by fears about brand exposure.

Nibali has room to spare

Suggestions abound that Nibali's victory means less than it should due to the absence of Contador and Froome. Yet Nibali has barely been troubled en route to the easiest Tour victory of the post-Armstrong era. Only during his fourth-stage victory atop Hautacam did the Sicilian appear to be stretched – and by then he was competing only against himself.

Not just a young man's game

The young tyros have performed manfully – Majka, Pinot and Roman Bardet are all under 25. But 37-year-old Jean-Christophe Péraud was often the only rider able to hold Nibali's wheel. And Chris Horner, 42, also struck a blow for experience over innocence.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen