This tour is far from over! That was the statement sent out by two Australians after stage three of the Tour de France.
Riche Porte’s gallant attack 700m from the finish in Longwy and Michael Matthews’ brilliant second place show they’re both very much in contention for the two main jerseys of this great race.
Most of you will know if Matthews managed to grab the 12 seconds required to take the Yellow Jersey from Welshman Geraint Thomas on stage four but it was always going to be a really tough ask.
But Matthews is a genuine chance to take the sprint leaders green jersey from Sagan although it’s probably a tougher task than what Richie has to do to leaver the Yellow jersey from Froome!
Sagan has dominated the Green jersey competition for six years and has virtually been unchallenged. But Monday’s almost dead in Longwy shows that the boy from Canberra is in career best form
After a disappointing first stage Richie showed he is still a serious contender and his audacious attack on stage three made his main contenders in Froome and Quintana sit up and take notice. But it’s stage five which will really show us where everyone sits. ORICA-Scott will be hoping that Estaban Chaves can show some of the spark he had last year and also in Australia early this season before his knee injury. Monday gave us a glimpse that just maybe he is coming back to his best.
Questions were asked after Richie’s poor performance in stage one and although most thought he was just too conservative because of the dangerous conditions, some felt that he had maybe peaked too early. But Monday’s stage managed to put Richie back in the forefront of the minds of all his challengers.
I reckon tonight’s stage five into La Planche des Belles Filles will answer many questions. Richie worried the opposition on the final assent on Monday and that climb only partially suited his abilities but this six km monster is a different story and whoever dominates this seriously tough climb will be the odds on favourite for the following two weeks.
This stage finish has only been included twice in the Tour. Froome won in 2012 but was beaten overall by his teammate Brad Wiggins and those wounds still run deep. Whereas in 2014 Vincenzo Nibali snatched back the lead on this brutally hard climb and went on to win overall.