Although it is theoretically possible to win the Tour without winning a stage, conventional wisdom is that the Tour’s true champions always stamp their personal seal of authority on the race by winning at least one stage. It is often said that to do any less is to fail to show proper respect to the Maillot jaune. Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Lemond, Indurain, He Who Shall Not Be Named, Contador, Froome; all did this. And now, to this list of true Tour champions, we can now write the name Arielle Jean.
Arielle toed the stage 3 start line with a big fat target on her back; she’d built a steady and commanding lead on GC and word is her competitors had been drilling the course all week, trying to eke out any advantage they could use to overtake her. Once the gun went off several riders surged ahead of her with apparently just that in mind. Rather than force herself to try to match their initial pace she just kept her cool and let them go, churning her legs at the same steady pace that she’d demonstrated in stages one and two, Her patience paid off as her opponents began to fade and she gradually began to pick them off one by one.
She’s never not been on the stage podium this Tour but this time, it was to be the top step. She came in over the line 41 seconds ahead of her Hagerty teammate Peter B. Worden, III, also known as “P3.” She now sits with a comfortable lead of almost two and a half minutes on GC, and her consistent performances also have her firmly in control of the Green jersey points competition as well; barring some catastrophe it will be tough for her competitors to overtake her in either contest. The Tour is likely hers as it heads into Paris.
P3, no doubt fueled by adrenaline and blind rage over his discovery earlier in the day that his mother had hidden all of his DS games, uncorked a personal best performance for a second place finish at 0:23:45. This put him on the podium for the first time this Tour and also moved him into first place in the Most Improved Rider competition with a narrow edge over Norte’s Porter Kochis.
Despite the hopefully temporary loss of teammate Little Belt, Team MBS22stein came ready to play. Hunter Frank turned himself inside out trying to keep the Jean sisters firmly in his rear view mirror, taking the lead on the road at one point. The effort cost him dearly as P3 and Arielle Jean were able to overtake him, but he dug deep and kept P3 in sight and was close to overtaking him at the end, finishing only 4 seconds down. The heroic effort left him with his first podium finish this Tour, in third place. Maximus Jordan put in another steady performance, keeping himself ahead of the sudden hordes of Norte riders.
Yes, I said “hordes of Norte riders.” After two stages where the orange brigade was content to put their entire Tour aspirations on the shoulders of the Kochis siblings, Norte sent in the inestimable duo of Colin Miller and Jameson Schmidt to double the squad’s numbers. Technically Jameson came to help his mom sweep the race, but he practically oozed laid back cool as he zipped ahead on his own in his blue Norte t-shirt, so we’re gonna count him as being in the race anyway.
Hagerty has a pretty good lead going int he team competition, sitting with a virtually insurmountable 24 minute advantage over Team MBS22stein, who in turn have a definitely insurmountable lead of almost two hours over third place Norte. Absent an asteroid hitting the planet, that is likely to be the finishing order in Paris.
Abigail Jean and Noah Zalinski again put in strong rides for Hagerty, Abigail finishing just off the podium this time in 4th place; Noah, we’ve got to get you a jersey, talk to Uncle Josh. Catch him when the baby’s had him up all night, he’ll give you anything. Brennan Peterson came out to try his hand as an independent, no doubt hoping he’ll be noticed by one of the teams and picked up in time for the Vuelta. The Kochis siblings, Sophia and Porter, continued to impress everyone with their can-do attitude and they still sit third and second, respectively, in the Most Improved Rider Contest.
Next week, it’s the Queen Stage, Paris . . . and ice cream!
And a special note of thanks to Heather and Chad Jordan for rounding up the troops and getting them to the start line after the General Director of the miniSol was unexpectedly sidelined by a mechanical while attempting a solo effort on the BigSol route. Antipathy toward rear derailleurs is a part of Tour history — the founder of the Tour, Henri Desgrange, once asked “Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur?” — but still our Director probably went a bit too far when he ripped his off with a giant stick. At any rate many thanks to the Jordans for getting the kids where they needed to be, and kudos also for the kids who rode a flawless race despite lacking a lead out.