It wasn’t easy picking a Supreme Banana for the 2017 Tour de France. There have been a lot of unsung heroes and under-the-radar valiant performances. Ultimately, one man stands out.
Chris Froome owes a lot to every single Sky team-mate for his fourth victory, but arguably most to Michal Kwiatkowski. He has helped him every step of the way, so it was fitting that when the champion crossed the line on the Champs-Elysées, his Polish domestique de luxe was by his side, getting some pats on the back.
As well he might. He kept Froome out of trouble in the race’s flatter first week and came into his own in the hills and mountains.
When Froome broke a spoke in his wheel on the road to Le-Puy-en-Velay, he gave up his own and showing rapid mechanical skills on the road, even pushing him off. Tour-losing crisis averted.
Imperceptibly, he ended the Tour at seemingly his highest ebb, pulling on the front until four kilometres to go on the Col d’Izoard and – after all that exhausting work – coming one measly second from winning the time-trial around Marseille.
For the here and now, he was the ultimate Tour team-mate. There’s no official jersey or symbol recognising that, so he was a shoo-in for our overall Supreme Banana award.
For the future, it makes you wonder what he could do in his own right at a Grand Tour…
Our editor Ian caught with mighty Michal at the Marseille time-trial and gave him a bunch of bananas.
Ian: Michal, you are awarded the Supreme Banana by Rouleur for your unwavering support and hard work for Chris Froome to secure this victory. You have won a few things in your time [Ed – did you seriously say that to him?] but this one must be pretty special, yes?
Michal: Yeah, yeah, I was always aiming for the yellow banana on this Tour. Chris has only one yellow jersey, so I’m happy to have the yellow banana. It is yellow, yes?
Well, yes. It’s a banana. In fact, you get a whole bunch. The other guys only got one. You get five.
Oh, that’s amazing. I’m very happy that people enjoyed my style of racing at this year’s Tour, and that I was able to support the team and support Chris all the way to Paris.
The main competition for this title came from Thomas de Gendt from Lotto-Soudal, but he was up the road and you were the guy reeling him in all the time.
Maybe he can get in the break again in Paris, so I just have to hope the Top Banana will stay with me…
And are you going share your prize with the team or keep them all for yourself?
I’m going to make a smoothie, I guess.
Enjoy. Thank you, Michal.
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. Here’s the roll call from this year’s edition.
Tour de France 2017: Rouleur Top Bananas
Stage 1 – Taylor Phinney
Stage 2 – Tony Gallopin
Stage 3 – Juraj Sagan
Stage 4 – Guillaume Van Keirsbulck
Stage 5 – Stefan Küng
Stage 6 – Frederik Backaert
Stage 7 – Reinardt Rense van Rensburg
Stage 8 – Lilian Calmejane
Stage 9 – Dan Martin
Stage 10 – Julien Vermote
Stage 11 – Maciej Bodnar
Stage 12 – Steve Cummings
Stage 13 – Alberto Contador
Stage 14 – Warren Barguil
Stage 15 – Michal Kwiatkowski
Stage 16 – Simon Geschke
Stage 17 – Jarlinson Pantano
Stage 18 – Darwin Atapuma
Stage 19 – Thomas De Gendt
Stage 20 – Romain Bardet
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