Rouleur Classic

Tour de France 2016: Top Banana stage 19

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France finally has a stage win at this year’s Tour de France. Romain Bardet’s masterful descending was pivotal in giving him the stage win and enough time to climb from fifth to second place overall on Le Bettex.

But Top Banana is all about the unsung hero of the peloton, the domestique who sets up the winning attack or the little rider who surpasses all expectations.

Today, that was Bardet’s AG2R-La Mondiale team-mate, Mikaël Chérel. The 30-year-old set him up adroitly, leading his countryman down the rainy descent to the foot of the Cote des Amerands at great speed and helped to get him that time advantage.

The rain caused chaos for the other GC contenders with many coming a cropper in the treacherous turns. However, the French pair in front stayed cooler than Alain Delon smoking a Gauloises.

Chérel faded to an inconsequential 33rd place finish, but no doubt he will be feted in AG2R’s celebrations tonight. We doff our casquettes to Bardet’s Norman lieutenant. Bien joué.

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