Tour de France 2015: 10 reasons to remembers Le Tour from Chris Froome to Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas

A look back at the three weeks of action that will see Chris Froome take victory on Sunday

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The Independent Online

Froome takes British hopes to new heights

Chris Froome's repeated Tour de France success this year has colossal implications for the sport in Britain.

After cycling’s minority status was swept away with the arrival of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish on the biggest stage, the next target was to ensure there was no backsliding into relative obscurity. If Wiggins won his landmark Tour victory and has finally moved on, Cavendish continues to dominate in bunch sprints while Froome has converted fighting for Tours into something which is normal for British sport.

Germany is on a massive rebound

The German tally of stage wins in this year’s Tour has yet to be resolved as André Greipel could well add success on the Champs Elysées to his three stage wins so far. Either way, Simon Geschke’s first mountain-top victory for the Germans since Jan Ullrich in 1997, and Greipel’s  hat-trick are all very encouraging for a sport which was on its knees in Germany after Ullrich’s doping scandals. This year has seen ARD, the German tv channel, carry live broadcasts of the Tour again. It couldn’t have timed it better.

 

Thomas the next big Brit in stages

He had one disastrous day in the mountains, but Geraint Thomas’s performance in the Tour this year represents a huge step up for the Cardiff rider. He may opt for Grand Tours or could – still – simply say he prefers to concentrate on one-day racing, at which he has already proved equally talented, or try the tough ask of bridging across both. Either way, Thomas (left) has made it clear that if Sky ever needs a second Grand Tour racing leader, he has what it takes.

Sky’s motorhome was run off the road

When Team Sky proudly showed Tour of Italy journalists around the motorhome it had hired for leader Richie Porte as an alternative to the organisers’ team hotels, it felt like a breakthrough. Sky argued that it provided consistency for Porte and eliminated the risk of him trying to sleep in bad hotels or through disturbances. However, cycling’s governing body, the UCI, were unimpressed and swiftly banned their use, insisting riders must use the organsiers’ accommodation “in order to reaffirm absolute fairness between all riders”.

MTN-Qhubeka’s wildcard a highlight

It is inaccurate to say that MTN-Qhubeka is the first African team on the Tour. There were Moroccan and Algerian national squads in the 1950s, and South African Barloworld (for whom a certain Chris Froome raced his first Tour) took part in 2007 and 2008. But as the first African-registered trade team to take part, MTN-Qhubeka constituted a major breakthrough nonetheless. In sporting terms, when Steve Cummings took a fine stage win, the team’s presence was more than justified.

The speculation won’t stop – yet

The allegations and doping innuendo surrounding Chris Froome and cycling in general is not going away. The sport’s past still provides too much fuel for a bonfire of speculation that burns every season, and the media commentaries – as well as riders like Luca Paolini, who tested positive for cocaine – cause it to remain a semi-open wound.

Hard first week can kill interest

Racing over the cobbles of northern France for a second year running, stages open to crosswinds, multiple uphill finishes and a team time-trial at the end of the first week made for an extremely difficult first week. All it needed after that was one mountain stage – and not a particularly hard one – and the race was effectively over.

French are yet to regain their place among the elite

Last year, it all looked so promising for French cycling with three riders in the top six. Instead, as Romain Bardet (above) snaffled one of France’s three stage wins this year in what was a performance miserably below expectations for the host nation, the 24-year-old – the country’s best-placed rider in ninth at the time of writing – said the pressure to produce results had risen . Roll on 2016, donc.

Mark Cavendish finished? Wrong!

After years of intermittent and occasionally brilliant success, Mark Cavendish was the rider whose consistency put  British cycling on the Tour map at an international level and whose success gave the Team Sky project the first big boost it needed  to take shape. That was in 2008.  And seven years on, Cavendish, now with 26 stage wins, keeps on delivering.

Gang of Four, then Five, was in fact just Two

After Chris Froome’s rollercoaster 2014 season and uneven start to 2015, there was much speculation that this was going be an open, four-way race between Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali and Froome. Then Tejay van Garderen performing superbly in the first two weeks made it look more like a five-horse event. As it turned out, only Froome – and finally Quintana – have been really on top of their game.