28 Sep TOUR DE FRANCE GAME – THE RACE FOR THE SIGNED POLKA DOT JERSEY
The biggest race in the year certainly draws a lot of excitement. To capitalise on the hype, we held an engaging game over the three-week race period, asking contestants to choose the team that would win each stage, the general classification and team classification. Promoted via eDM’s and social media to our Tour de Bintan database, we captured the imagination of the cycling fraternity and witnessed a fierce battle for the top prize which was a Julian Alaphilippe signed polka dot jersey, courtesy of our partner Specialized.
The race opened in dramatic fashion with a crash-marred stage in Nice and an unexpected win for UAE Team Emirates in stage 1. Julian Alaphilippe’s signature aggressive racing bagged a stage win and yellow jersey for Deceuninck Quick-Step in stage 2. And Peter Bennett (under the pseudonym “Kendoddsdadsdogsdead”) was the first leader in the game.
Stage 4 and 5 was for Team Jumbo – Visma with Roglic offering a glimpse of his super-form and Van Aert continuing his winning streak. After Strade Bianchi, Milan-San Remo and a stage at the Dauphine Libere, this was Van Aert’s fourth major win after the re-start of the cycling season in August. Due to a clumsy time penalty Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Adam Yates. Bto (Bastian Touzeau) was the new game leader.
With an Astana Pro Team stage win interlude, Van Aert captured his 2nd stage victory and Jumbo Visma’s third! Thom Thrall took the game lead as his bet on Team Jumbo – Visma paid off, earning all of his 150 points from their wins.
On Pyrenees stages 8 and 9 it was Pogacar’s time to shine. He gained 40 seconds on the GC contenders on stage 8 (that he had lost on windy stage 6) and won stage 9. The UAE Team Emirates cyclist beat Roglic and Hirschi in a sprint-a-trois. Roglic could still celebrate taking the race lead, but it was heartbreak for Marc Hirschi who was caught with 1km to go after having led the race for 90km. Thom Thrall kept the game lead.
The Sprinters were up next. Deceuninck – Quickstep’s Sam Bennett scored his first Tour de France win on stage 10 and Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan won his 2nd on stage 11, both in mass sprints. The bigger story was the fight for the green jersey. Bennett captured it from Peter Sagan with his win and Sagan did himself a disservice by getting relegated and penalised on the following stage. John Watts sprinted to the lead of the game by having predicted both stage winners correctly.
Adventurers led the charge in the next stages. It was three-times-is-a-charm for Team Sunweb’s Hirshi as he finally got his win on Stage 12, after having already missed out on Stage 2 (2nd) and Stage 9 (3rd). It was the first professional win for the 22-year old. He was also awarded with the combativity award at the end of the Tour. Daniel Martinez from EF Pro Cycling won the longest and hardest stage of the Tour. After 7 cols and over 200km of racing, he beat the only other survivor Kaemna in a sprint over the 15% incline to the summit. Only DF Coaching got that one right and joined John Watts in the lead of the game.
The final stage of week 2 was a summit finish, with all eyes peeled on the GC contenders. Despite another dominant display from Team Jumbo – Visma, it was UAE Team Emirates’ Pogacar who pipped Roglic to the finish for his 2nd stage win. Last year’s winner, Egan Bernal, cracked and lost his chances for a Tour win repeat. Kendoddsdadsdogsdead was the only one predicting UAE Team Emirates to win, but it was John Watts who edged ahead again in the game for Team Jumbo – Visma placing second.
The mountainous last week started with a win for Bora – Hans Grohe’s Kaemna. His revenge for a close defeat three days earlier. Next, “Superman” Lopez captured another win for Astana Pro Team, while the GC contenders fought off each other just behind him. In a direct duel Roglic dropped Pogacar and extended his GC lead to 57 seconds, silencing some of the doubters if he could hold off his young countryman.
The game started to look like a 5-horse race with John Watts still in the lead, Kendoddsdadsdogsdead, DF Coaching and Thom Thrall in close pursuit, and Rebecca likes hill a bit further off. That was until Team Ineos sent its riders on a stage hunt now their GC quest had failed. Kwiatkowski and Carapaz crossed the finish in an embrace, placing 1st and 2nd on stage 18. The 75 points earned for a bet on Team Ineos propelled Thom Thrall to the lead and Haikal and MPH2 into the Top-5.
Stage 19 was Sagan’s last chance to get back into the race for the green jersey. Bora Hans Grohe’s plans were foiled and it was Team Sunweb’s Kragh Anderson that scored his second, and his team’s third win with a well-timed break. As much as Stage 19 had decided the sprint competition in favour of Deceuninck Quicksteps’ Sam Bennett, Stage 20 was going to decide the overall GC winner of the Tour. With almost a minute’s lead, a dominant display on the last summit finish, and an excellent time-trial palmares, Roglic was set to capture the Tour win. Pogacar caused a major upset when he delivered the time trial of his life, snatching the GC lead from Roglic and becoming the youngest Tour de France winner in almost 100 years!
With so much drama the day prior, the final parade into Paris could only be an underwhelming affair.
Despite a few valiant efforts, break-aways were not given much leeway and the sprinters contested the win at the Champs Elysees, as has been the case for the past 15 years. The “World Championships of sprinting” was won by green jersey champion Bennett, followed by (the real world champion) Pedersen and (old TdF sprint ace) Sagan.
And the game winner is ……. Thom Thrall!
With one day left there was only the final stage win to contest at the Tour. For the game, however, it was a big day with potentially 150 points to be won. In theory, 8 players were still in the running for the major prize. Team Lantern Rouge won the sprint to the finish with a correct prediction for both the final stage winner (DeCeuninck – Quickstep) and the Team Classification winner (Movistar Team), but no one predicted correctly that Pogacar / UAE Team Emirates would win the Tour de France.
Big congratulations to Thom Thrall. We hope you enjoy your Julian Alaphilippe signed jersey. Thank you to Specialized for donating the prize, and to all the contestants for being part of the game.