The last man home usually has the company of fellow riders to ease the pain. Not so, Katusha’s Jacopo Guarnieri, who crossed the line alone, some 30’30” after Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had punched the air in triumph at the summit of La Toussuire.
The Italian, employed as a path finder for Alexander Kristoff through the tangled and often treacherous terrain of a bunch sprint, did not mince words on his Twitter feed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever suffered so much in my life,” he said. “…I wanted to die. I was satisfied!”
Guarnieri can console himself with the quality of the company he almost kept. Only 40 seconds ahead of him were men who might have expected to thrive in such terrain: LottoJumboNL’s Laurens ten Dam and Wilco Kelderman, for example; Simon Yates of Orica-GreenEDGE; Lotto-Soudal’s Tony Gallopin, a former maillot jaune.
Elsewhere, the grupetto’s membership was more predictable: Greipel, Cavendish, Demare, and Farrar from the sprint constituency; Kristoff, Haller, Matthews and Stybar for the rouleurs; Tuft, Castroviejo and Brandle among the time trialists.
Tuft is at the lower end of the GC too, with only one man behind: lanterne rouge Sébastien Chavanel (FDJ).
Chavanel had occupied a position near the foot of the overall standings since a gruelling tenth stage and finally took up the position of lanterne rouge after Bora-Argon18’s Sam Bennett called it a day on stage 17.
The 32-year-old has the experience of eight Grand Tours to call upon, however. He will need every ounce of it to avoid Bennett’s fate.