Levy Reaps the Rewards as Tottenham Rule the Roost

It’s 2001.  Tottenham are facing Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final.  New wealthy owners ENIC have installed club legend Glenn Hoddle as a new coach, replacing George Graham.  A populist, if somewhat, odd move.

The teams walk out at Old Trafford.  The atmosphere is raucous.  Expectation amongst the white half of North London, sky high.  Spurs take the lead.  Captain Campbell limps off.  Arsenal score twice and head to Cardiff.

The season rumbled on, Spurs finished mid table, Campbell never played for the club again, instead walking out the door and straight down the Seven Sisters Road.  The euphoria had well and truly died down.  A quick look at the team sheets that April day speaks volumes.  For Arsenal, Adams, Keown, Pires, Henry, Ljungberg.  Spurs?  Perry, Clemence, Doherty, Iversen.

Tottenham were well and truly in their place.  The task facing ENIC and Chief Executive at the time Daniel Levy, huge.

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Fast forward to 2013.  Spurs are basking in a third place spot, having beaten their rivals 2-1.  The teamsheets tell a story.  For Spurs Bale, Lennon, Lloris, Vertonghen.  Arsenal? Mertesacker, Ramsey and Giroud.  Times are a changing.

Arsenal’s longevity in the top echelon of English football is remarkable.  Arsene Wenger has presided over an era of success unmatched outside of Manchester.  He’s done it all whilst being financially responsible too.

But there is finally a sense of change in the North London air.  As bold and proactive as the Tottenham board has been, the counterparts in N5 are eyeing the bottom line rather than the league table.  Tottenham have been knocking on the door for a few seasons.  Now they look set to break it down.

Much of the credit lies with Levy.  He has made decisions.  Bold decisions.  Not always decisions that worked out, but he has been strong enough to make them.

Known as a ferocious negotiator, Levy has seen six managers come and go since he shook hands with George Graham.  He’s made errors. Santini wasn’t a fabulous idea.  And admitted his mistakes.  But when he’s decided on a course of action, he is all in. Dispensing with the popular Martin Jol was brave.  Saying no to Harry Redknapp’s demands, even braver.  But he’s done it his way.

Coaches have been given cash to spend, and licence to do things their way.  He’s ignored the press, and often his own supporters who have been vocal in their doubts.  And he is reaping the rewards.

baleChampions League qualification is no certainty this year.  There are many battles to come.  But this club is on a firm footing on and off the pitch regardless of how the remaining ten games pan out.

Tottenham have gone from a team renowned for underachieving and looking back on a glorious past, to team that may just have their best days in front of them.

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Britain’s new Golden Girl dominates in Minsk

It was appropriate. The last woman standing after 5 days of relentless competition was Becky James. The girl from “The Land of My Father” could not have looked happier as the strains of “God Save the Queen” echoed around the Minsk Arena. The Welsh woman, just 21 years old, put all the pain of Olympic rejection behind her, to scoop 4 medals in Belarus, 2 of them gold.

The James smile became the signature sight on the last few days of competition, as Great Britain’s mix of old and new opened up the throttle and left their rivals for dead. James burst onto the scene as a medal winning teenager at the Dehli Com Games, and after injury and non-selection curtailed her progress, she has now firmly established herself as the new British sprint star following on from Victoria Pendleton. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen. The watching Meares would of raised an eyebrow.

If James and the Union Jack dominated the latter part of the week, Michael Hepburn and Advance Australia Fair, headlined the opening days. Heppy was in a league of his own in the Individual Pursuit, retaining the title won on home timber 11 months ago. And he led a new look Pursuit quartet to gold over a similarly new look British team. 18 year old Alex Morgan made his senior debut, and walked away with a team gold and an individual 4th. Watch this kid.

Hepburn will now head to road, seemingly banishing the track to the past. But the way he approached the week in Minsk and the way he has matured as a person over the past six months, don’t be surprised if the Queenslander is in the skinsuit at the Rio Velodrome. He has the talent and the team to allow him to juggle commitments. If the desire is there, and the team to match, Hepburn will be there.

It was an uneven week for the Aussie team. The endurance athletes shone with the sprint squad, minus Anna Meares and Shane Perkins, struggling to keep up. There were encouraging displays from Matthew Glaetzer who took 5th in the Sprint and Andrew Taylor, who claimed a Keirin 4th in his Worlds debut. Steph Morton too, showed that she is not out of place at the top table and will only get better.

But Kaarle McCulloch will leave Minsk with regrets after failing to stamp her authority on the event in the wake of Meares “Gap Year”. McCulloch is super quick against the clock, but looked to struggle when she was joined on the track by others. Bunch races do not suit her, and a spell in the Japanese Keirin series may have come at the ideal time. Go away. Regroup. Change of environment. Start again. With Morton and Taylah Jennings in the wings and Meares set to return, theres no time to waste.

The two other stars of the show were Glenn O’Shea and Annette Edmondson. Both claimed bronze medals in the Omnium, both got team pursuit medals, and Nettie also grabbed an IP bronze. The workload undoubtedly took it’s toll, especially on O’Shea who relinquished his World title in the very last event. Edmondson can point to a crash in the elimination race that may have cost her a silver. However, the American Sarah Hammer was a class apart in that competition.

Edmondson and O’Shea are both at the top of their sport and look set to be there right to Rio. Nothing we saw here changed that.

Outside of the Aussies it was a meet that was unpredictable, and full of talking points. Francois Pervis was the sprinter is best form but only ended up with one title. The medals were spread far and wide as the post-Olympic blues seemed to hit. Jason Kenny, the most high profile male on show, rode like a drain. He bombed out in the Team Sprint, missed the medals in the individual, yet somehow claimed the Keirin crown, having squeezed into the final following Pervis disqualification. It was that sort of meet.

But the ride, or rides, of the week came from the Emerald Isle. Martyn Irvine buried himself to make the Pursuit final. The Irishman may have been the bunny to Hepburn’s greyhound but it was silver medal and a huge achievement. And then less than an Hour later, Irvine lined up for the Scratch race, went for it 10 laps from home and only bloody won the thing! Irelands first title since the 1890’s. It was a ride to revel in. A ride that was bad on the heart, but great for the soul.

Track cycling has it detractors, but the show put on by the likes of James and Irvine showed that it is alive and kicking.

8 things we learnt after the Tour Down Under

1. Dutch Cycling may have another star on its hands

Tom Slagter won the Ochre Jersey, surprised many, and catapulted himself into cycling’s big league. After finishing the Willunga Stage a close second to Simon Gerrans, the Dutchman declared that the parcours of the whole race “was made for me. It’s perfect.” Slagter now joins teammates Bauke Mollema, Robert Gesink, Steven Kruiswijk and Wlico Keldermann as standard bearers for a newer,cleaner era of Dutch Cycling. Likened by some to Joaquin Rodriguez, the diminutive Slagter has the kind of explosive climb that will bring him much one day success.

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2. Blanco hit the ground running

Results in Adelaide have given Blanco more points in one week than they ammassed in 5 months as Rabobank in 2012. The entire team were superb, with aggressive, positive racing, strong results and a good team spirit. The Aussies on board, led by a rejuvenated Graeme Brown, did their bit too. David Tanner led out Slagter in Stirling, Mark Renshaw almost snatched victory from Andre Greipel on the final stage, and Jack Bobridge was active in the KOM competition. A great start for a team with money in the bank, for now, but no name on the shirtfront.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Greenedge are more comfortable in their own skin

Pressure? What pressure? The Orica-GreenEDGE team arrived with fanfare, and public expectation, but left with a stage win, some promising signs and a sense of calm amongst the team. Simon Gerrans delivered on Willunga but it wasnt a tour solely about results as it was 12 months ago. This year was about building. Building Matt Wilson as a DS. Building the Mouris/Impey/Goss train. Building Luke Durbridge into a real threat in week stage races. And I think they’ll be pretty pleased with the outcome. The confidence gained from Gerro’s win eased the angst felt after Stage 2 where Simon Clarke admitted that the team had “screwed up”, and now with a good start both here and in San Luis the team

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will head toward the European season in high spirits.

 

 

 

 

4. Lotto’s sprint may be unbeatable

The way Lotto handle the sprints is a thing of beauty. The power. The precision. The trust. The intelligence. They are making the High Road train look shabby. If Lotto deliver Greipel as they plan at 200m he is unbeatable. Andre is in the prime of his career and is blessed with a group of teammates with believe in him totally. And vice versa. Greg Henderson is in “world’s best lead out territory” and the battles throughout 2013 between Greipel and Cavendish will be epic.

5. Adam Hansen is Australia’s most underrated rider

Maybe not in the cycling fraternity, but in the wider sporting world. 3 Grand Tours completed in 2012. Pivotal member of the aforementioned Sprint Train, decent climber, hard man, good bloke, leader not a follower. Hansen is a class act.

6. Andy Schleck has a lot of work to do

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Pre-race Andy said that it was about just being on the bike and racing again. He also admitted that he was nervous. 7 days later, he’d lost 16 minutes on the Stirling stage, got dropped in the first 500m of Willunga’s first circuit, and abandoned the street circuit at halfway, before riding home and not making the teams presentation. Not the greatest return for the

2010 Tour champ. Jens Voigt said that “Andy needed a kick up the arse midway through the week, and after today (Sunday) he needs another one. Schleck is targetting being at full tilt in April for the Ardennes. On this showing that is highly unlikely. All’s not lost for Radioshack though. Their old guard may be failing, but in Hermans, Bennett and Machado, they have a talented group.

 

7. The Tour Down Under should stay in Adelaide

There have been more noises of the race going elsewhere but let’s be honest. Could it work elsewhere? The riders love it. Great weather, same hotel, short transfer, good racing. The race works in South Australia. Why change? That’s not to say we can’t have another UCI race around this time, and the great challenge is for the organisers to work with the new UCI Oceania President Tracey Gaudrey, and the men behind the Sun Tour in Victoria, to allow that race to complement the TDU.

8. We place way too much importance on the Tour Down Under

And I’ve done it myself! But it is the first race of the year. Every rider’s modus operandi is different. Every rider’s condition is different. We read so much into a performance or a result, but in the context of a 10 month season, what happens in Lobethal in January is forgotten by the time we get to Lyon in July. Let’s enjoy the Tour Down Under for what it is.

Gerrans Willunga Win a Classic Move

Rewind the clock twelve months.  Simon Gerrans was being cheered to the rafters as Tour Down Under Champion, just 2 weeks after taking away National glory.  GreenEDGE were under pressure to begin their debut season with a bang. With victories. With Glory. Gerro delivered.

 

He was on rare form.  The best rider in the world over the first three months of 2012.  Three months that culminated in those rarest of beasts.  An Australian on the top step at a classic.  And not just a classic. La Primervera.  Milan – SanRemo.  A Monument of the sport.

 

Gerro’s win surprised many, probably even himself.  But when the legs are that good…..

 

His target last year, as every year, was glory in the Ardennes in April.  And on the roads of France in July.  But the trouble with form is that it can be a fickle beast.  Gerrans was unable to hold it through to his pet events Amstel Gold and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.  He wasn’t bad by any means.  But he wasn’t in the mix.

 

Come July in France it was a similar tail.  Decent legs, breakaway attempts, punchy finishes, no no results.

 

The Bell Curve saw a resurgence in August in the one dayers, but overall it was strange paradox of a season.  Moments to be cherished.  Moments of regret.  

 

Now fast forward.  Willunga 2013.  The battleground that saw Valverde pip the national champ twelve months previous, was treated to another afternoon of drama.  But this time Gerrans, with no Ochre aspirations triumphed in front of an exultant home crowd.

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The pressures on the team leader this year are vastly different.  GreenEDGE had to win everything in January last year.  No excuses.  Start with a bang.  Gerro, you’re the man.  It’s a different environment this time around.  

 

The pressure is less.  Simon’s failure to conquer the Corkscrew on Stage 2, shut the door on defending the title.  But at the same time,  allowed him the freedom to do what he does best.  Assess the legs.  Assess the race.  Assess the parcours.  Assess the riders. And win the race.  He does it better than most.

 

Gerro’s form is good, perhaps not quite at last years level, but still very good, and with some careful management it can continue to grow and peak in mid-April, the roads of the Ardennes, the roads he cherishes the most.  The lessons of last year will be learnt.

 

There’s something magical about the races in the sport’s heartland.  The cobbled climbs.  The unpredictable weather.  The crowds, shouting themselves hoarse.  Their breath reeking of Leffe or Duval as the riders past by, inches away.  It’s a battleground for riders.  Riders like Gerrans.

 

The challenge ahead though, is daunting.  Philippe Gilbert has shown enough in Adelaide to suggest that his legs are good.  Cancellara and Boonan will be ready to battle.  Andy Schleck is targeting La Doyenne, with Nibali and Evans also sniffing around.  

 

Gerrans will be assisted by a team a year older and a year wiser.  Lieutenants like O’Grady, Langeveldt, Albasini and Mouris.  Strong men.  Hard men.  Men of the classics.

 

Gerrans is already assured of his place in Australian cycling history.  Wins in all three Grand Tours.  Natioanl Champipon.  Stage race winner.  Classic winner.

 

Claim victory in April, and not only will he be in the Australian Hall of Fame.  He will move into rarified air.  A two time Classics winner.  It’s what a rider of his ability deserves.

 

 

Wilunga to be the battle ground again

Before this edition of the Tour Down Under, it was predicted that Stage 2, the climb of Corkscrew Hill would split the bunch to bots and decide the selection before a final battle of the slopes of Old Wilunga.

And lo, it has come down to that, although maybe not quite in the way we expected.  The crashes that marred the descent of the Corkscrew has contributed as much to the make up of the race, with Phillippe Gilbert and Matty Lloyd, amongst many to hit the bitumen and see their GC hopes tumble down the slope with them.

We also saw some rusty legs from some of the favourites too, notably Simon Gerrans, as the challenge came earlier than normal.

So we have an eclectic mix of GC riders in the running for overall honours, led by Geraint Thomas.  The Sky strongman has trained the house down in Adelaide since Christmas, and was superb in Wednesday’s stage, taking the victory after a bold attack on the climb, a nerveless decent, and trackie’s style sprint.  Thomas is set for a big 2013 with major Classic ambitions (Flanders is his big aim), and a spot in the all conquering Team Sky TDF squad, possibly in the place of Michael Rogers, now of Saxo-Tinkoff.

While Thomas and his team are in control, there are a number of challengers milling around Thomas.  A bunch of riders that are reflecting a new generation.  Winner in Stirling, Tom Slagter of the rebranded Blanco outfit sits 5 seconds back, and his team have a double threat with the exciting Wilco Kelderman sitting in tenth spot.  They have a strong two card hand to play.  Kelderman in particular looks to have a huge future, although he did get involved in the crash that marred Stage 4.

It’s a similar story at Radioshack, emerging from their own tumultuous year.  No Bruyneel, no Frank Schleck, and in terms of GC here, no Andy Schleck.  What they do have however is three riders within touching distance.  Tiago Machado finished third last year, and is primed for a real crack on Wilunga, but the emergence of the Belgian Ben Hermans and the young Kiwi George Bennett has surprised.  

Just 20 years old, Bennett is a precocious talent.  A former mountain biker, he grabbed the silver medal at the NZ Nationals two weeks ago and played a major team role on the US races at the back end of 2012.  If they let him off the leash, Bennett could be the surprise packet.

And it’s brotherly love at Euskatel with the Izagirre boys only fifteen seconds back.  Gorka, the elder is the more widely known, but it’s Jon who is maybe the one to watch with a Giro Stage win under belt last year.

The prospects of a battle royale are good, with several teams desperate to make a mark, knowing that Greipel’s superlative form means victory on the street circuit looks a formality.  So expect Gilbert, Gerrans, De Gendt, Velits and Iglinsky to give it a red hot go on the second ascent of the famous old hill.

 

The Premier League: 8 Key Questions

  1. Can City go back-to-back?

The heart-stopping finale to last season may still be fresh in the minds of the City faithful, but the warm and fuzzy has well and truly gone from Roberto Mancini.  The Italian has cut a cranky figure during a surprisingly quiet pre-season at Eastlands.  When asked about the lack of transfer activity, Mancini spat out “Ask Marwood”.  Jack Rodwell is the only new face at City, and it’s hard to see him being in the first team in the immediate future.  Van Persie headed toward Salford, leaving Mancini with pretty much the same squad.  The good news? Tevez is back in the fold and looks interested, Balotelli hasn’t gone loopy and the creative core of Silva, Nasri, Aguerro will be better for another pre-season.  City deserve favouritism, but only just.

  1. Can Van Persie deliver the title back to Old Trafford?

It was a transfer saga of the summer, and a coup for United to pull it off.  The best striker in the Premier League last season leaving 3rd place to join 2nd.  It’s big money for an injury prone, 29 year old, but if Van Persie delivers as he did in 2011/12, it’s money well spent.  The problem here for United is how to fit him into the system.  Is it back to the 4-4-2?  Where does Kagawa fit in? Is Rooney up top or in the hole? What about Young, Nani, Valencia, Wellbeck?  Defensively nothing has changed either.  The anticipated move for Baines hasn’t materialised, Rio and Vidic are a year older, as are Carrick and Scholes.  Tom Cleverley, so impressive in the Olympic campaign and in England’s win over Italy, has a pivotal year ahead of him.  It looks set for a Manchester title battle.

  1. Can Di Matteo revive Chelsea?

Sounds odd to say the European Champions need reviving, but we have to be honest. Chelsea’s UCL triumph was almost achieved despite themselves.  Now the hard work really starts.  Drogba will be a huge miss, almost as much for his personality as his goals.  Torres is coming good, but in the striker stakes, the cupboard is pretty bare behind the Spaniard with Kalou, Anelka and Drogba gone.  Only Sturridge remains.  Countering that is an abundance of midfield creativity, with Marin, Oscar and Hazard all arriving to join Mata.  There’ll be the usual reliance on Lampard and Terry to go around once more, and defence could be an Achilles heel.  A title challenge is unlikely.  A tilt at the top 4 should be a given, but a bad start and who knows what could happen down the Kings Road.

  1. Are the North London clubs in transition?

It was heartening for Arsenal fans to see Wenger be proactive in the transfer market, bringing in Podolski, Giroud and Carzola all before the inevitable Van Persie exit.  But again, questions are being raised about the club’s ambition with another big name exiting the Emirates. Alex Song could be next, which would leave a hole in the defensive part of the side.  As per usual, creativity is not a problem for the Gunners, with the new boys joining Walcott, The Ox and rejuvenated Rosicky and Arteta.  But it’s the return of Jack Wilshere that may ultimately decide the fate of Arsenal this year.  His injury is career threatening, but if he returns at the same level as in 2010/11 Arsenal will have a good season.

Up the Seven Sisters Road, it’s all change. No more Arry. No more Luka. In come tactics. And a swagger. Villas-Boas has a fair bit to prove, but has probably chosen the perfect club to start his coaching comeback.  For all the pretty football in the early part of last season, Spurs collapsed under the distraction of Arry courting England, and a squad threadbare in key areas.  The latter part hasn’t changed with Defoe the only striker at the club.  This is the area in need of urgent attention now the Modric deal is concluded.  Vertonghen is a shrewd addition as is Sigurdsson, and expect a more advanced role for Gareth Bale, as AVB seeks to implement his Porto system on Spurs.  Top 4 challengers again, but no sack if he doesn’t make it this season.

  1. Can Rodgers revive The Reds?

He’s the British coach that even Craig Foster likes.  No pressure then at Liverpool for Brendan Rodgers.  The architect of Barcelona-in-South-Wales, has taken his Northern Irish Tikka Takka to Anfield, to try and revive the sleeping giant, after 2 years of Hodgson/Dalglish related misery.  It seems the majority of Liverpool fans are all for Rodgers and are prepared to give him time to succeed.  Fed up of false dawns, they want a coach, and a playing style, to stick.  The early signs are promising. Youthful signings who fit the Rodgers philosophy of pass, pass, pass, press, press, press, and the relative light use of Andy Carroll, all point to a brighter future.  They will be tough to beat at Anfield but it’ll be on the road where Liverpool’s destiny this season will be decided.  Either way, the future is certainly brighter than it was 12 months ago.

  1. Can anyone make the break into the top 4?

Newcastle got damn close last season.  Everton have been there or there abouts before, as have Villa.  The Geordies look best placed to have another crack with a settled squad and a confident coach who has delivered above expectation.  Papiss Cisse was the revelation of last year and his partnership with Demba Ba will make or break Newcastle’s season.

Everton have again had to cut their cloth.  Pienaar and Naismith come in. Rodwell leaves.  Traditionally slow starters, if they can hit the ground running, and Jelavic is amongst the goals they will on course for a good season.

For Villa just forgetting last season’s flirtation with relegation may be enough. The McLeish year was traumatic, and he’s replaced by another Scot in Paul lambert who did wonderous things at Norwich.  The football should be better, the fans should be happier and the results should improve.  Not enough to crack the big boys, but enough to be competitive again.

  1. Can Norwich and Swansea go again?

A massive challenge lies ahead for the 2 sides who impressed and delighted in equal measure last season.  Both are under new coaches, with Chris Hughton at Carrow Road, out to build on the reputation he developed at Newcastle, then Birmingham, and amazingly Michael Laudrup in charge at Swansea. Yes, Michael Laudrup.  At Swansea.  On paper the changes will be felt least at Norwich with no major departures, Grant Holt retained and Michael Turner on board.  The Swans however have lost not just Rodgers, but 2 key members of that impressive midfield in Sigurdsson and Allen.  Laudrup forged his coaching reputation with a young, exciting Getafe team, but has found recent jobs trickier.  On paper his style is similar to Rodgers, but in reality times could be much tougher this time around in South Wales.

  1. Who will go down?

A really tough call this year.  Wigan have flirted with relegation for years now, and no matter how much we respect Martinez football, they may finally run out of luck, especially if Victor Moses moves on.

The promoted teams all face a tough year with Reading perhaps the best placed to survive, with a solid, settled squad, good youth set up and a star signing in Pogrebnyak.

Southampton were League One 2 years ago, and will bank on home form in front of a parochial crowd to keep them up.

West Ham snuck in through the play-offs after faltering late on.  Big Sam will divide opinion inside and outside the club once again, but they have enough Premier league experience within the squad to survive.

QPR survived on a fraught final day, but seem set to prosper in 2012/13 after Mark Hughes latest shopping spree that brought in Park and Fabio from United plus Robert Green, Junior Hoilett and Andy Johnson.

 

Predictions

Winner: Manchester United

UCL Spots: Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham

Europa Spot: Chelsea

FA Cup: Chelsea

League Cup: Newcastle

Relegated: Swansea, Southampton, Wigan

 

 

The Changing of the Guard

Stage 11 of the Tour offered a great deal. A classic, dramatic Alpine day. A French winner. A champion fighting for his life. A team controlling like we haven’t seen in years. But most of all, it offered a glimpse of the future.

In time, we may go back to La Toussuire and mark in down as cycling’s red letter day. The moment that the peloton’s old guard got the tap on the shoulder.

Evans fought for his life. An audacious move, perfectly planned and executed, which could, and perhaps should, have gained him big time. But as the mind showed it was willing, the body failed. No fairytale Schleck like attack. “Not my best day” he said afterward. No Cadel, but you went down swinging. This was no surrender.

More of the races big names came and went. Frank Schleck looked comfortable in the lead group, before cracking close to the finish.

Valverde, Cobo, Menchov, Basso, Vino, Kloden, Horner, Scarponi. Tapping away behind the actual race.

Even Wiggins, he of the strongest team, best preparation and pottiest mouth, seemed to feel the effects of the racing, holding onto wheels for grim death.

Instead we were treated to the young guns, Pinot, Rolland and Van Garderen. And the prime timers. Van den Broeck, Froome and Nibali. Exhilarating, dashing riders. Always eager to make their mark, take a chance. Have a go.

We knew of Rolland, from his victory on the Alpe last year. But this win cemented him in the new group. Crashing at high speed, getting up and riding past the break to take the win. Guts, talent, panache. Call it what you will. I call it class. Forget the theatrics of Voeckler. Rolland is the jewel in Europcar’s crown.

And Pinot. The youngest man in the bike race, now with 2 wins in a week. France have been yearning for a star for years. Now they have two.

Tejay was quite brillant too. Stronger than his captain who he laid himself on the line for, Van Garderen looked in the kind of form to take the stage.

As did Froome who bowed to team orders and dragged the Maillot Jaune across the line. In the last 5km, Froome was the strongest man, and Sky could’ve made a tactical gamble and let him go to seal a strong 1-2. Instead pragmatism reigned. Froome was a good boy, and Wiggins remains in control.

An era of Champions is coming to an end. The generational change may not be immediate but it is knocking loudly on the door.

The Vuelta Espana will offer a peek at it, as Froome is expected to take on Schleck and Contador and Rodriguez. And maybe Van Garderen will be given the chance to ride GC for BMC. In the Sky camp, Uran and Porte are both top 10 material.

It’s an exciting prospect.