I have been a bit bemused by all the articles and commentaries in which people moan about ‘the TdF that wasn’t’ because Froome and Contador crashed out. They all say, either explicitly or implicitly, that Nibali and everyone else who achieved a good GC standing at this year’s Tour had it easier because Froome and Contador abandoned.
They all make it sound like Froome and Contador didn’t even turn up at the Tour. The fact is that they turned up, crashed and abandoned the race.
So, I am left wondering why anyone thinks that it was less of a race because of people who were unable to finish the race.
Yes, it would have been a different race if Froome and Contador were able to finish. Likewise, it would have been different without a cobblestone stage, with more time trial stages, with different climbs, with different route, with different weather, etc., etc.
To state the obvious once again, Froome and Contador were not able to finish. Nibali et al, including Ji Cheng, managed to finish. Nibali survived the race that Froome and Contador couldn’t. And won.
I think the Sicilian deserves to be recognised for his win without the hoi polloi trying to devalue his achievement by confusing correlation with causation.
Chapeau, Vincenzo. Bravo.