19 – Iron Constitution and Iron Cross.

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The high mountain stages can be tricky to judge,
As riders drop backwards from this or that bunch,
And that’s how it started as Purito went early,
With his eyes on the summits and Polka Dot Jersey,

10 points his reward on the first of the day,
And Rodriguez was once ahead of Bardet,
Though the Frenchman came back on the way down the hill,
And Uran and Talansky as they went for the kill,

And Pierre Rolland was rolling.

During a quiet tour by the bulk of the French,
The Europcar rider was looking quite fresh,
And he crested ahead at the Col Croix De Fer,
Though if he turned round he saw Nibali there,

For the Shark’s found his legs, they were left in the Alps,
And he hammers the Froome group in his quest for some scalps,
With eight minutes to make up, a win seems too far,
Not the podium, dislodge one of Movistar.

And his attack stuck where Valverde was caught,
The Italian’s climbing might be something in sport,
That looks effortless, powerful, smooth and effective,
Which explains why his choice to attack’s so selective,

And Pierre Rolland stopped rolling.

His monster attack was soon gobbled up,
As he and Nibali in the lead doubled up,
But he cracked, as the pair climbed to La Toussuire,
The gradient, the speed, and the race too severe,

He went backwards, a shame after such a brave move,
But you pay for your actions, and Pierre was disproved,
That mountain was set to do all sorts of pain,
On the leaders, the lead group, the same names again,

Except Thomas, whose efforts are taking their toll,
The Welshman had vanished by the time of the Col,
Meaning Froome looked quite lonely, and ripe for the taking,
Though the pace of the riders meant they all looked to be baking,

Not true, though, as BOOM! there went Nairo,
Penultimate mountain before he went pyro,
And he went, Froome let him, well he couldn’t catch up,
With their gap edging wider, in a dual match-up,

For the group had exploded and were strewn down the hill,
Except Nibali up front with power of will,
Quintana kept on, kept on, kept on,
To Vincenzo he neared, but to Froome he was gone,

The first time he had really a cause for concern,
At the Colombian youngster with mountain to burn,
The gap at the end was exact half a minute,
And now more than ever one of two men will win it,

Froome has two thirty eight in the bank for Huez,
And if he’s not the winner, it’s clear who is,
A gunfight on the mountain on the next to last day,
The organisers must have dreamed it this way.

And Rolland rolled home.

The stage to Vincenzo, and the Polka Bardet,
Have no doubt, mind, that Quintana was the star of the day.

17 – Allos of Stuff and Nonsense

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Stage Seventeen took us into Pra Loup,
With Peter Sagan in the breakaway group,
He gobbled some points up as Degenkolb glared,
Vaugrenard won it – the sprinters despaired,

Before all this happened, Tejay left the tour,
In tears at the roadside, it was just not his ‘jour’,
He vacated from third spot, and may have gone higher,
As Quintana’s attacks may eventually tire,

Back to the head of the field, and the group of nigh thirty,
The sprinters went backwards as the Allos started hurting,
Simon Geschke was lurking, and he pulled out ahead,
Leaving all the contenders behind him for dead.

Pinot started chasing, on the way down Allos,
His descending’s been better (though his climbing’s still boss),
But he lost his back wheel, then lost balance and spirit,
Talansky flew past, and Uran, trying to win it,

Yet neither caught Geschke and he rolled up in first,
As the lead group was clashing and eventually burst,
Into life on the way down after Contador fell,
He was distanced like Sagan (who was with him as well),

And though Nibali probed as they climbed to Pra Loup,
There was little he could do to splinter the group,

The victory to Geschke – a fifth German day,
Though Pinot gets closer, as the Tour works it way,

Up Alps (though not down them), a French win must come soon,
Even if it’s as nought to the finish of Froome.

16 – The Gap Into Gap

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Stage sixteen came about as two different races,

Twenty minutes apart such were two distinct paces,

The break came in first, left unchallenged all day,

After Sagan got sprint points, as is ever the way.

 

Ruben Plaza attacked on the way up the Manse,

Grabbing time on the rest, leading Sagan a dance,

Then the green hurtled down at phenomenal speed,

But the Spaniard had been given too much of a lead,

It was first, then for Plaza, with Sagan behind,

The position to which he is often consigned.

 

Then Nibali went,

Stealing some time on the climb for descent,

Which when it arrived was both manic and fast,

With corners so tight when you saw them they’d passed,

 

So Tejay clipped Barguil, and Barguil clipped G,

Who careered off the road, down a ditch, into trees,

Yet the Welshman recovered with no damage to tell,

and retained his sixth spot in the GC as well,

 

The Shark gained some seconds not enough to make hay,

When Froome and Quintana still have Alps to go play,

The win was for Plaza, and also Lampre,

Before visiting Gap for the final rest day.

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