|Tejay takes solace in holding up a stone wall. Photo Credit: Getty Images Sport|
This is the Bicycling Life. You give all you have for over a week in one of the most prestigious cycling tours on the Pro calendar only to have the yellow leaders jersey ripped from your back on the final kilometers of the final climb on the final day of the race. Tejay Van Garderen is not the first to live through this fate, but that doesn't make it any easier.
The Dauphiné Liberé is on a level bested only by the 3 great grand tours in the hearts and minds of the professional peloton. For 8 days each June it works it's way through the beautiful French countryside incorporating many of the same climbs that feature in Le Tour de France each July. Many of the previous Dauphiné winners have gone on to also wear yellow on the last stage of Le Tour. Tejay had hopes of adding a win here to his palmares which would have easily been the best victory in a career that has been consistently trending upward since he entered the professional ranks.
He started the day in good shape to do just that. With a lead of 18 seconds on Chris Froome all he had to do was stay in contact with the Team Sky rider's wheel on the Modane-Valfréjus, but the Briton attacked on the days final climb after Wout Poels softened up the peloton with a brutal pace on the lower slopes. Tejay was game and much like yesterday marked Froome better than the other contenders but he lost contact on the steeps and came in 18 seconds behind. That left he and Froome tied on time at 30 hours, 59 minutes and 2 seconds; the Team Sky rider's victory afforded him 10 seconds bonus however - which would prove the deciding factor for victory.
|Froome is the victor on the slopes of the Modane-Valfréjus...and to the victor go the Dauphiné spoils. Photo Credit: ASO|
It's Froome's 2nd Dauphiné win in 3 years and bodes well for his chances in this year's edition of the Grand Boucle. It also bodes well for those of us waiting for what looks to be one of the best fields of competition in the Le Tour for years. Froome, Nibali, Contador, Quintana are the favorites but there are a handful of riders like Van Garderen who have high hopes and a real opportunity to crash the party. Let's hope that all of the key players can stay upright and healthy for the length of the tour and provide excitement and intrigue deep into the final week of the race.