On Colombia’s Independence Day and with a suitably lumpy stage to be tackled, Nairo Quintana might have been expected to have another dig at the – thus far – imperious Chris Froome.
But it was IAM Cycling’s Jarlinson Pantano who got the Colombians jumping up and down with a gutsy breakaway followed by a courageous descent into Gap attempting to hang on to the coattails of a breathtakingly daring Peter Sagan.
Until today, Pantano’s Tour has been one of those climbs by stealth: 14th on stage 5; 12th on stage 14; 11th into Valence on stage 15, pushing him up to 18th on GC, a full 16 minutes ahead of his previously-fancied fellow countryman Rigoberto Uran.
And who is Jarlinson Pantano? He landed a couple of third positions on the 2014 Giro d’Italia riding for Team Colombia, ending 133rd overall. This year’s Dauphine ended with an unspectacular 72nd. Today’s racing from the 26-year-old from Cali took him a notch or two higher up overall.
Following the best bike handler in the peloton down the final technical descent that saw Geraint Thomas go head-first into a telegraph pole – the most spectacular and gut-wrenching of the day’s mishaps – showed skill and bravery as Pantano chased the Slovakian hard to end the stage in third place only six seconds behind him.
“I have done everything to win,” Pantano said at the end. You can’t argue with that. Have a plátano.