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Troyes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Marcel KITTEL (Germanu / Team Quick Step - Floors) - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) Nacer BOUHANNI (France / Team Cofidis) - Andre GREIPEL (Germany / Team Lotto Soudal) - Alexander KRISTOFF (Norway / Team Katusha - Alpecin) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 6 from Vesoul to Troyes, 216.00 km- foto Miwa iijima/ Cor Vos © 2017

Le Tour’17: The PEZ Team Awards!

The PEZ 2017 Tour Awards: This year’s French Grand Tour was not a vintage edition, but Sam Larner has found some twinkles of stardom amongst the race round France. He also has awards for the less than top performances from the teams and riders.

Izoard - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Timo ROOSEN (Netherlands / Team Lotto NL - Jumbo) - Tacx bidon  pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 18 from Briançon to Izoard, 179.50 km - foto  Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017
Timo Roosen not throwing his PEZ award!

The Tour de France is over for another year. The biggest race of the year was another disappointment, there was very little attacking racing and it was pretty clear that everyone who could challenge Froome was prepared to settle for a podium. If Dan Martin hadn’t lost a minute in the winds, if Richie Porte was still in the race, if Alberto Contador had found his legs earlier, if Nairo Quintana was fresher – it may all have been different. It wasn’t, it won’t be a Tour that lives long in the memory. However, to mark the end of the race, we’ve decided to award prizes to the best team in each category. Some teams will want to forget about these awards as quickly as possible, some teams will cherish them as much as the jerseys and stage wins they took in July.

Serre-Chevalier - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO (Spain / Team Trek Segafredo)  pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 17 from La Mure to Serre-Chevalier, 183.00 km - foto  NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
Can Alberto smell the end of his career?

Most Underwhelming Team: It was always going to be hard for Bahrain Merida to overcome the loss of overall, possible/unlikely, contender Ion Izaguirre on the first day. Unfortunately, they didn’t even get close to a successful Tour, Janez Brajkovic was the highest overall finisher, 45th two hours behind. Sonny Colbrelli looked like he might save the race but he could only muster three top 10s and Borut Bozic secured another one on the Champs Elysees. It wouldn’t be a surprise if you hadn’t seen a single Bahrain Merida rider during the Tour.

Paris - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Dylan GROENEWEGEN (Netherlands / Team Lotto NL - Jumbo) wins and celebrates pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 21 from Montgeron to Paris, 103.00 km - foto NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
You can just see Borut Bozic squeezing a top ten in Paris

Best Wildcard Team: Direct Energie are the only one of the four wildcard teams to grab a stage win – Lilian Calmejane on the stage to Station des Rousses. It would’ve been great to see Thomas Voeckler go out with more of a bang, his best stage result was 44th, but Sylvain Chavanel picked up some of the slack with his strong third week and 25th place overall finish. Wanty-Groupe Goubert would’ve had a miserable Tour but for Guillaume Martin who managed 3rd place on a stage and 23rd overall.

Worst Performance with Fewest Excuses: Two years ago, Nacer Bouhanni started the Tour de France but had to retire after just six stages when he was caught in a crash. Last year, he never even made it to the startline after punching a guest who was making noise in the hotel he was staying in prior to the national championships. This was meant to be the year where it all came together for Cofidis and their sprinter. Unfortunately, Bouhanni never got inside the top three on a stage and, although Dani Navarro did his usual trick of getting into breaks in the mountains and getting a top 30 on GC, this was yet another disappointing Tour for the French side.

Troyes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Marcel KITTEL (Germanu / Team Quick Step - Floors) - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) Nacer BOUHANNI (France / Team Cofidis) - Andre GREIPEL (Germany / Team Lotto Soudal) - Alexander KRISTOFF (Norway / Team Katusha - Alpecin)  pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 6  from Vesoul to Troyes, 216.00 km- foto  Miwa iijima/ Cor Vos © 2017
Bouhanni was close…

Best Team Not Called Sky: This is really between Quick-Step Floors and Team Sunweb, one got five stage wins and sixth overall, the other got four stage wins and tenth overall. Despite the statistical skewing I’m going to choose Sunweb. Dan Martin was in a perfect position overall on the stage to Romans-sur-Isere before he lost just under a minute in the wind. After he’d launched numerous attacks to chip away at Froome’s lead, this was a massive loss to take. It’s understandable that Quick-Step wanted to protect their five time stage winner, but did they really need to leave Martin with just two domestiques on a stage where crosswinds were predicted? Team Sunweb, meanwhile, could’ve been forgiven for slumping without a GC hope but Michael Matthews put in some exceptionally strong performances and Warren Barguil just kept getting better and better and could have won a third stage if Rigoberto Uran didn’t dive for the line. They left with four stage wins and two jerseys, Matthews would very likely have won that jersey without Kittel’s unfortunate abandonment, and a truckload of new fans.

Paris - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Warren BARGUIL (France / Team Sunweb) - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb)  pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 21 from Montgeron to Paris, 103.00 km - foto  VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
Two jerseys one team – Sunweb

Most Spacious Team Bus: You would expect this to be Team Sky and their Death Star like bus. In actual fact, it’s FDJ, largely for the fact that they finished the Tour with just three riders. On stage nine to Chambery, stage winner Arnaud Démare fell off the back of the peloton and fell significantly far behind that he didn’t finish within the time zone. Thibaut Pinot had put a huge amount into the Giro and was racing the Tour as an after thought, so it’s no surprise that FDJ wanted their sprinter in the race so they sent Ignatas Konovalovas, Jacopo Guarnieri, and Mickael Delage back to pace him on. They were also cut when they finished outside of the time cut. Arthur Vichot and Thibaut Pinot joined the abandoning party later on in the Tour. That left just Davide Cimolai, Oliver Le Gac and Rudy Molard to roll into Paris.

Dusseldorf - Germany - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ)  pictured during the Team presentation in downtown Dusseldorf - foto: NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
Arnaud Démare and his FDJ friends – A team that sticks together…

Biggest Drop in Performance from Last Year: Honorable mentions go to Katusha, who bagged a stage win last year with Ilnur Zakarin. This year they put all their eggs in Alexander Kristoff’s basket and he couldn’t live up to the pressure. Lotto Soudal also put their hands up, Thomas De Gendt won on Mount Ventoux and André Greipel took a stage win on the Champs Elysees last year, however Greipel is probably past his best and Lotto Soudal might have to hunt stage wins for a few years before they find their next leader. However, the award goes to Movistar, they turned a stage win and a podium in GC into no stage wins and 12th place on GC. This is the first time since Quintana’s debut Grand Tour at the 2012 Vuelta that he has finished a Tour not in the top five. Quintana’s bid for the double was the latest in a long line of failed attempts, maybe riders will realize that with Sky and Froome at their current level, a double is just not going to happen.

Peyragudes - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS (Columbia / Team Movistar) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 12 from Pau to Peyragudes, 214.50 km - foto  Miwa iijima//Cor Vos © 2017
Nairo Quintana – All out of puff in 2017!

Most Improved Team: The Sunweb Grand Tour improvement continues to impress, but they won three stages last year – so it’s always going to be hard to claim that they’ve improved significantly. Instead I’m going to go for Quick-Step Floors. Last year Marcel Kittel won a stage and Dan Martin got seventh overall. This year, the German was on fire until he crashed out inside the final week. He won five of the first eleven stage and was well in the green jersey before Michael Matthews’ comeback and the crash. Dan Martin lit up the race in the mountains, even if he did lose silly time on the flat when his time went AWOL and although he only made one step up the GC ladder, he was much closer to the action this year. One negative, with Peter Sagan back next year, Marcel Kittel might have seen his best shot at the points jersey come and go.

Team who did Most with Least: With both Peter Sagan and Rafa Majka out of the race before stage 10, it would’ve been easy for Bora-Hansgrohe to just soft pedal to Paris and bemoan their bad luck. They didn’t do that though, Rudiger Selig, a lead-out man thrust into the limelight, turned up in the sprints and got four top tens, including 9th in Paris. Emmanuel Buchmann might have been pretty anonymous during the race, he never finished higher than 14th on a stage, but he was sent as Majka’s mountain domestique and got 15th overall, his best ever GC result at a Grand Tour. Finally, Maciej Bodnar put the cherry on the cake with a stage win in the final time trial, the Pole held off the early time trial contenders and then kept the lead as Chris Froome fell behind by just six seconds. They can be very happy with the performance they put together.

Marseille - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Maciej BODNAR (Poland / Team Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 20  Marseille ITT, 22.50 km Time trial individual - foto Dion Kerckhoffs / Cor Vos © 2017
Maciej Bodnar proves that Bora-Hansgrohe isn’t all Sagan

Worst Teamwork from a Team: This one isn’t close, Astana were terrible during the race and Fabio Aru really suffered because of it. Astana brought a team who had the potential to support Aru in the mountains, yes the loss of Dario Cataldo and Jakob Fuglsang on consecutive stages wasn’t their fault, but the remaining riders wasted tonnes of energy on follies; which had no chance of success and left Aru alone. It’s commonly known that Aru is gone at the end of the year, but whether he’s leaving because of the lack of support or whether there was a lack of support because he’s leaving is anyone’s guess.

Izoard - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Fabio ARU (Italy / Team Astana) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 18 from Briançon to Izoard, 179.50 km - foto  VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
Is Fabio thinking of Jakob?

Best Performance in spite of the Team: This is similar to the previous category, but here I’m not really looking at a deliberate lack of teamwork. The team I’ve chosen is Cannondale-Drapac, everyone other than Rigoberto Uran didn’t waste energy, they just couldn’t really do anything to help him. The Colombian was fantastic, he was the surprise of the Tour and it’s genuinely exciting that he has re-announced himself as a GC contender. But take a look at his support staff; Pierre Rolland, Dylan Van Baarle, Andrew Talansky, Nathan Brown and then wonder why Uran was permanently left alone in the mountains. Pierre Rolland had obviously put a lot into the Giro, but Vaughters revealed that he knew Uran was on top form, so you wonder whether Rolland might have been better leaving the Tour this year and freeing up a spot for someone fresher to slog through the mountains.

Chambéry - France  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Warren BARGUIL (France / Team Sunweb) - Rigoberto URAN URAN (Columbia / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) - Christopher - Chris FROOME (GBR / Team Sky) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 9 from Nantua to Chambéry, 181.50 km  - foto  NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
Chambéry - France  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Warren BARGUIL (France / Team Sunweb) - Rigoberto URAN URAN (Columbia / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) - Christopher - Chris FROOME (GBR / Team Sky) - Christopher - Chris FROOME (GBR / Team Sky) - Romain BARDET (France / Team AG2R La Mondiale) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 9 from Nantua to Chambéry, 181.50 km  - foto  pool ASO/Cor Vos © 2017
It was close, but Rigoberto took stage 9

The Best ‘What Could have been’ Team: BMC came with the Olympic champion and the best version of Richie Porte that, potentially, there ever has been. We couldn’t have known this when he crashed, but with Froome unable to get away on the mountains and the end result coming down to seconds handed over during stages and a time trial, Porte would’ve been the perfect contender. What will hurt Porte even more is that Damiano Caruso, Nicolas Roche and Amael Moinard were clearly on good form and would’ve potentially challenged Sky and AG2R. Greg Van Avermaet has had a magical year but he was a little below par at the Tour, the loss of Sagan would’ve suggested he was the favorite for the hard sprint stages. Unfortunately, Michael Matthews came along and mopped up those stages leaving GVA with just three top tens.

Chambéry - France  - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - crash val sturz fall Richie PORTE (Australia / BMC Racing Team) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 9 from Nantua to Chambéry, 181.50 km  - foto  VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017
The dreams of Richie Porte and the BMC team ended on stage 9

# Next up la Vuelta, keep it PEZ for all the news from España. #

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