Rudi Selig sprints for Champs Elysées 9th and Buchmann secures GC 15th on final day of BORA-hansgrohe’s most successful Tour de France yet.
After almost three weeks and 3,437km of racing, there were only 103km of the 2017 Tour de France remaining. It was a race where BORA-hansgrohe fought hard every single day and refused to give up, even after losing the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, on stage 4, and Rafał Majka, who left the race due to injury on the first rest day. In spite of the setbacks, this was the team’s most successful Tour de France, where the it took its first Tour win before following it up with a second on the penultimate day.
The final day of the Tour would be, as is tradition, a procession into Paris. Unwritten rules dictate that there is no racing, and so for much of the 103km route, riders would be taking it easy over the slightly undulating parcours. No breaks would go up the road and there would be no attempts to take extra time in the GC race. However, all this would change when the race hit the Champs Elysées in Paris, where after eight laps of a final circuit, the last day would be decided by a bunch sprint. The run into Paris would give riders the chance to reflect on a Tour that had been exciting and eventful from start to finish.
Over the course of the race, BORA-hansgrohe took two stage wins. The first came on stage 3, where Peter took on a brutal ascent to the finish in Longwy afer being paced up the climb by Rafał Majka, while the second came when Maciej Bodnar took his first Tour victory in the time trial in Marseille after a flawless ride on a challenging course. This was a well-deserved reward for the Polish rider who had worked hard on every single stage, and had come so close to taking the win on stage 11 when his stage-long breakaway was caught with just 242m remaining.
In the GC race, Rafał jumped to 10th overall on stage 5 – a position he held until his retirement from the race after a crash on stage 9 on the descent of the Col de la Biche. After Rafał’s departure, Emanuel Buchmann bravely stepped up to ride the GC race. The young German rider took 15th spot overall on stage 17 – one of the most brutal mountain stages of the Tour – a position he protected to the end.
Looking back over the team’s most successful Tour de France, BORA-hansgrohe’s Team Manager, Ralph Denk, could call upon so many individual achievements throughout the race. ”I am proud that we are one of four teams who won more than one stage, and our team showed great spirit after our two leaders left. The 4th place from Rüdi, the 5th place from Jay, and Bodi, who was caught 200m before the finish line – in all these situations we could see the team spirit. In the end it all paid off and we showed with Bodi’s victory yesterday that we can also win without the big names. 15th place in the overall for Emanuel is a great success. He made a big step forward since last year and is able to stay with the best. After all the setbacks, it was a successful Tour for us.”
In the final stage, having made their way into the centre of Paris and onto the Champs Elysées, it was now that the pace ramped up and the attacks started. The German national champion, Marcus Burghardt, was one of nine riders who were in the lead group leading the race around this historic finishing circuit at speeds approaching 50km/h. While the break was never allowed an advantage of more than twenty seconds on the chasing peloton, this group held its lead until the final 10km where it was all back together for the final sprint. With so few of the pure sprinters remaining, the outcome was uncertain and could be taken by anyone. Fighting with the bunch, Rüdi Selig took 9th on the Champs Elysées, while Emanuel Buchmann finished with the bunch to secure his 15th spot in the GC.
From the finish line, Rudi was pleased with his position and with his performance during the race. “Again a top ten result, and this on the final stage. I am satisfied with that but I knew I could have been better. I felt good but when it came to the sprint I missed one man to be in a perfect position. I was a little bit behind then and could start my sprint. However, I am happy with my results and performance here at the Tour de France.”
Having finished 15th and gained a career best GC position at the Tour, Emanuel was happy with his performance, but was keen to improve on his overall position. “With my 15th place in the overall I am really happy, and my shape is good. I started in this tour as a helper for Rafał and was then the leader. The team supported me so well every day, and I think that after all the things that happened here we can be satisfied with our performance. All in all, I am happy that I am now in Paris and can be really happy with my 15th place, which I want to build on in the upcoming years.”
BORA-hansgrohe and the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, will be back racing next weekend when they arrive at the start of the Tour de Pologne. This challenging seven-stage UCI World Tour race starts in Kraków on the 29th of July before showcasing the best of Poland’s scenery.