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?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot