Tour de France: Eight riders who helped to light up the race
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 28/07/15 2:26pm
Chris Froome has taken all the plaudits after winning his second Tour de France, but he was not the only star of this year's race.
From breakaway regulars to unexpected stage winners and riders who soldiered on despite crashes, the Tour was littered with unsung heroes.
Here are eight riders who deserve a special pat on the back…
The Slovakian will be remembered at this year’s Tour for having finished second five times and in the top 10 no fewer than 12 times, but despite his lack of a victory, he was arguably the most entertaining rider of the race.
Apart from the mountain days, he was in the thick of the action on almost every other stage and even went on a run of being in four consecutive breakaways from stages 14-17.
The 34-year-old Briton produced arguably the most unexpected and impressive win of the race. And not only that, he did it as his South African team MTN-Qhubeka celebrated Mandela Day.
Stage 14 into Mende finished with a steep climb that didn’t look suited to a bulky rider like Cummings, but he managed to crest the summit just behind climbing specialists Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet and then overtook them on the 1.5km of flat to the finish line.
The Eritrean catapulted himself to worldwide stardom by illuminating the first week of the Tour.
Another rider representing MTN-Qhubeka in their debut Tour, he infiltrated several breakaways in the opening stages and collected enough mountains classification points to claim the polka dot jersey, which he wore for four days.
The Team Sky rider was one of the outstanding performers of the race and had been fourth overall until fatigue finally caught up with him in the final two mountain stages.
However, his most eye-catching contribution to the race was somehow getting back on his bike and finishing stage 16 just 36 seconds behind his rivals after being barged into a telegraph pole head first and then being flung down a ditch.
There were a multitude of broken bones in this year’s Tour, but one of the worst crashes was suffered by Peraud on stage 13.
The Frenchman came down on an innocuous stretch of flat road, but the surface was so rough that his left side was almost entirely covered in either cuts or road rash. Peraud not only continued, but on his way back to the peloton he even collected water bottles for his team-mates.
The Australian’s victory on stage one’s individual time trial seems a long time ago but is unlikely to be forgotten for quite a few years thanks to being the fastest average speed ever recorded in a time trial at the Tour.
Dennis’ speed of 55.446kmh eclipsed Chris Boardman’s previous best of 55.2kmh and was a truly stunning performance.
With Marcel Kittel absent from this year’s Tour, many expected Mark Cavendish to be king of the sprints. However, it was 33-year-old German Greipel who produced some of the best form of his career to rack up four wins and take his career total at the Tour to 10.
The Swiss maestro led the Tour going into stage three but was then involved in a frightening crash on the road to the Mur de Huy that left riders piled up against a lamppost.
Cancellera broke his back in two places in the incident but somehow remounted his bike and rode 55km to the finish line, where he discovered the extent of his injuries and later abandoned.