For this year's Tour de France we've teamed up with The Velocast to share with you their nominated Conquistador of the Day. During their daily stage review podcast, Scott and John will announce the rider who they feel deserves a special mention for their efforts that day.
Photo credits: A.S.O./Alex BROADWAY
Here are today's thoughts from The Velocast's John Galloway on who else he considered awarding Conquistador of the Day to, and why in the end he just had to give it to stage winner Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal.
I'm going for Gianni Moscon for self-control not to punch that wall when he fell off. Seriously, do you think at the start of every stage the team have to sit him down and say, "Please don't punch anything today Gianni"?
Genuinely I was torn. I've got three people who I thought about nominating today. One of them was Geraint Thomas just for that controlled return to the pack after misfortune. We've seen GC guys get so het up in a chase before that they dig too deep and then lose time because they dig too deep. They haven't let their teammates do the work for them. So that was my first thought.
Photo credit: ASO / Thomas MAHEUX
My second thought was Julian Alaphilippe because he went out with a plan today and you know I'm really big on plans and execution this year. But he wanted that jersey back for Bastille Day. There's nothing more important to a French rider than having either a yellow jersey or a stage victory on Bastille Day. And looking at tomorrow's stage let's not forget that its well within the bounds of possibility that Julian Alaphilippe will have the yellow jersey and a stage win on Bastille Day - and France will go absolutely nuts. I'm sorely tempted to get in my car and drive to France to soak up that atmosphere tomorrow - it's going to be magnificent.
But of course it has to be my man, just for getting my prediction right. Forget his performance on the road, he actually made me look like a credible pundit for five minutes today, so it's Thomas De Gendt. Magnificent ride! He's been battering his head against breakaways right through the last few days. Today he was in a small breakaway that never looked like it was going to stick.
Right up until the end when Julian Alaphilippe and Thibauld Pinot went I was convinced he was gonna get caught. But somehow, and we didn't see much of it because the French TV producers were actually (entirely justifiably I think) focussed on the two French guys who had broken away from the GC group and who were in contention for taking the yellow jersey for Alaphilippe, gaining a few seconds for Thibaut Pinot. We saw a lot of them on the descent but not of Thomas De Gendt. But he must have been riding like a bat out of hell on that thing.
He got over the top still with an advantage. We saw Julian Alaphilippe on the descent to the finish once again looking like the film had been sped up, he was going so fast. But still out front the Belgian is there, making the break stick. It's easy to choose the winner as Conquistador of the Day and to a certain extent, I feel it's lazy because you should look down through the peloton and look for other efforts. But when you get a performance like that today who else are you gonna choose?
Photo credits: A.S.O./Alex BROADWAY
STAGE SUMMARY FROM ASO
Thomas De Gendt claimed an epic victory in Saint-Etienne, his second one at the Tour de France after the Mont Ventoux in 2016, at the end of a breakaway he initiated at km 0. He resisted to the French duo who rode away from the yellow jersey group in the côte de La Jaillère with 12.5km to go. Thibaut Pinot moved to third overall while Julian Alaphilippe got the lead back after two days of glory for Giulio Ciccone who remains the best young rider.
De Gendt, Terpstra, King and De Marchi in the lead
173 riders took the start of stage 8 in Mâcon after Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First) withdrew after he broke a thumb at km 7 of the previous stage. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Niki Terpstra (Total Direct Energie) and Ben King (Dimension Data) rode away from the gun at the initiative of the Belgian. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) was close to bridge the gap but didn’t make it and went back to the pack. Alessandro De Marchi (CCC) made a smart move by himself and came across to the leading trio at km 22. Terpstra passed first at the intermediate sprint at Cercié-en-Beaujolais (km 33) where the peloton was timed with its maximum deficit of five minutes, after which Bora-Hansgrohe and Sunweb took control of the peloton.
De Gendt first at all climbs
De Gendt who is the alternative to Tim Wellens in the fight for the polka dot jersey inside the Lotto-Soudal team passed first ahead of King atop the hills: col de la Croix Montmain (km 51), col de la Croix de Thel (km 71), col de la Croix Paquet (km 84.5), côte d’Affoux (km 97), côte de la Croix de Part (km 133) where the leading quartet split in two with De Gendt and De Marchi at the front and Terpstra and King unable to hold their pace. De Gendt was first atop the côte d’Aveize (km 148.5) while Terpstra and King were reeled in by the peloton led by Astana with a deficit of 3’30’’. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) abandoned due to sickness.
Alaphilippe and Pinot make a difference
EF Education First relayed Astana on the hunt of the two leaders with 42km to go. The gap was down to one minute when Team Ineos collectively crashed in a downhill, including defending champion Geraint Thomas, with 17km to go. De Gendt attacked solo 14km before the end in the côte de La Jaillère. He crested solo while De Marchi was reeled in before the top. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) attacked to grab 5’’ at the bonus sprint, followed by Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) who grabbed 2’’. The two Frenchmen combined efforts to chase De Gendt down but didn’t catch him even in the last non-categorized climb 4km before the end. De Gendt won by six seconds while Pinot and Alaphilippe crossed the line 20 seconds before the yellow jersey group. It brought two Frenchmen in the top 3 of the Tour de France for the first time since Thomas Voeckler and Sandy Casar from stage 5 to 12 in 2004 as Alaphilippe got the yellow jersey back and Pinot moved into third place with best young rider Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) still in between. Hampered by a crash, defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos) made it back to the group of the favourites only deprived of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) who couldn’t hold the pace in the last climb.
Conquistadors of the Day - Tour de France 2019
Stage 1 - Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team)
Stage 2 - Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
Stage 3 - Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick Step)
Stage 4 - Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck - Quick Step)
Stage 5 - Marcus Burghardt (BORA - hansgrohe)
Stage 6 - Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS)
Stage 7 - Dylan Groenewegen (Team Jumbo - Visma)
Stage 8 - Thomas De Gendt - (Lotto Soudal)
For the daily podcast from Le Tour and more visit velocast.cc.