The Rouleur Top Banana goes to an unsung hero of each stage of the Tour de France – not the winner, not the yellow jersey – but a rider whose efforts deserve recognition
See the rules of Top Banana above? Scrap that.
Thomas de Gendt is no stranger to this prize, or spending innumerable kilometres on the attack in the Tour. He’s an obvious choice for us at Rouleur Towers. But it’s usually a plucky losers award, not one for the stage winner.
This was different. Very different.
Taking maximum points on the categorised climbs along the way, ostensibly in support of team-mate Tim Wellens in the polka dot jersey, De Gendt lifted himself into second spot in the mountains competition.
Job done, you’d think. But that’s not his style. Alongside the equally pugnacious Alesandro De Marchi – a man with a remarkably similar palmarès to the attacking Belgian – De Gendt pressed on while their breakaway companions fell away. When the Italian also cracked under pressure, Bananaman kept on keeping on, pursued by a fast-closing Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe.
He held them off, celebrated a second Tour stage win following his first on Ventoux in 2016, and took what he may well consider the best win of his fine career to date.
As he told our Editor in issue 19.4, the Ventoux stage was not top of his personal highpoints, due to being curtailed at Chalet Reynard as strong winds at the summit caused organisers to cut the race short.
“I don’t have the picture of me with my hands [in the air] on the top. It’s still a nice victory but it’s not Mont Ventoux.”
Well, Thomas, you now have pictures of yourself, hands in the air, in Saint-Etienne. And that is not to be sniffed at, unlike our Top Banana.
Rock on, Tommy, rock on.
Rouleur Top Bananas 2019:
Stage 7 – Wout van Aert