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  • Top Banana: Tour de France stage 16 – Lotto Soudal

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    Mellow yellow: Lotto-Soudal go banana crazy en masse

    Photographs: ASO / Pauline Ballet
    Lotto Soudal

    You may have noticed a slight change of tack with this year’s Top Banana awardees. In previous years, the daily prize has often gone to a plucky escapee swamped by the pursuing peloton a handful of kilometres from the line. Heartbreak hotel time.

    Stéphane Rossetto of Cofidis warrants a mention here. He’s been in break after break, and was up the road once again today. Rossetto’s no spring chicken, making his Tour debut here at the age of 32 (he’s a Vuelta kind of guy), but he does like a long distance effort. The Frenchman took a stage of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire after 100km on his own in the hills and dales – some ride.

    But we’re not going to go down that route. Sorry, Stéphane.

    No, we’re going to break with tradition and award one banana to eight men – the entire Lotto-Soudal squad. In a Tour where some teams appear to be falling apart at the seams (we’re looking at you Katusha, Movistar, Dimension Data, Bahrain Merida), what is traditionally Belgium’s second-best outfit behind Quick Step have upped their Tour game considerably.

    Just look at their performances in this race so far. The ever-popular Thomas de Gendt’s brilliant win for stage 8. The always-dependable Tim Wellens leads the mountains competition. And now Caleb Ewan, having moved from the more familiar surroundings of Mitchelton-Scott in search of Tour glory, has delivered two stages on his debut.

    This is not a team packed with big stars, big wage packets and big egos. But it is very much a team. Some others on this Tour might do well to study their approach.

    Now then, lads, how would like your eighth of banana served?

    Rouleur Top Bananas 2019:

    Stage 1 – Greg Van Avermaet
    Stage 2 – Tony Martin
    Stage 3 – Michael Matthews
    Stage 4 – Max Richeze
    Stage 5 – Toms Skuiņš
    Stage 6 – Geraint Thomas
    Stage 7 – Wout van Aert
    Stage 8 – Thomas de Gendt
    Stage 9 – Jasper Stuyven
    Stage 10 – Luke Rowe 
    Stage 11 – Emanuel Buchmann
    Stage 12 – Matteo Trentin
    Stage 13 – Enric Mas
    Stage 14 – David Gaudu

    Stage 15 – Lennard Kämna