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ROULEUR ISSUE 19.6 - NOW AVAILABLE

  • Top Banana: Tour de France stage 20 – Laurens De Plus

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    Laurens De Plus is a mellow fellow in yellow who matched Team Ineos pound for pound and pulled off a podium place for his captain

    Photographs: ASO / Pauline Ballet

     

     

    Laurens De Plus had one job and it was not to put team-mate Steven Kruiswijk on the podium. All but the fixtures and fittings of that particular construction project were in place before the Belgian took over at the front with 20km to go.


    No, De Plus’s responsibility was even greater – to keep Kruiswijk there.


    With only 27 seconds separating the Jumbo Visma leader in 4th from Emanuel Buchmann in fifth, that podium place was always the most likely source of any fireworks we might see today. We’ll never know whether Buchmann would have had enough left to claw back that time, but the two seconds he took in the closing metres suggest he was in better shape than the Dutch rider.


    What he didn’t have was an equipier equipped to ride hard enough on the front to snuff out any attack before it had even fizzled into flame.


    Not only did De Plus render it futile for Buchmann to attack, but he did the same for any other rider hoping to steal a stage win at the death. Warren Barguil’s late surge could barely be called that and rather looked like he was doing the running man on a bike. The cycling man, you’d probably call it.


    As we saw him do on so many stages of the 2019 Tour de France, De Plus stayed with his captain for far longer than anyone thought feasible. Only when he was sure that podium spot was secured was he prepared to calmly peel off.


    Plenty of people have said that the reason this year’s Tour has been so exciting is because Team Ineos have not been able to control the racing with the ruthlessness they have previous editions. That’s not just been because they’ve been weaker than usual. It is at least as much because Jumbo Visma – and Laurens De Plus more than anyone – have been able to play them at their own game.


    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
    Stage 16 – Lotto-Soudal
    Stage 17 – Kasper Asgreen
    Stage 18 – Romain Bardet
    Stage 19 – The snowplough driver