Ninja of the Tour (simplified version)

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Louis Meintjes was back at his best. Finished 14th in the GC. Only three stages in the top 20. The breakaway attempt and 9th place on stage 14 ruined a perfect ninja performance but in a way that is even more impressive because I did not even realize that he was in the break.
He made a few mistakes and couldn´t avoid TV exposure when he was dropped next to Gaudu or Martin. I expect some adjustments and a a flawless ninja performance next year.
 
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Even Meurisse was in a few breaks in the last week. The only one I can’t remember seeing much of is Rodriguez, but 46th on gc explains that.

Is the art of the ninja dying?

OTOH, I barely remember hearing Kelderman’s name in commentary , and he barely missed the podium. Is that a truer ninja?
That's the exact definition of ninja. I seem to have to say it each year but this is art, not science and Wilco somehow finished seconds off 4th with close to zero TV time outside the ITTs. I'm not even sure Zubeldia at his peak could have done that.
 
I came here to mention my countryfellow Wilco Kelderman and call him this year's Zubeldia... and I see I am not the first to do this. Well done, Wilco!
I forgot he rides for Bora now and that Majka is on UAE, and then a few times I thought hm, Buchmann's going OK this year... I think it was only in the Pyrénées that I sorted it out in my mind that it was actually Kelderman yo-yoing in and out of the lead group...
 
I forgot he rides for Bora now and that Majka is on UAE, and then a few times I thought hm, Buchmann's going OK this year... I think it was only in the Pyrénées that I sorted it out in my mind that it was actually Kelderman yo-yoing in and out of the lead group...
Every time I saw Wilco’s name on the gc I thought “hey, DSM aren’t having such a bad Tour after all…” I don’t remember seeing a Bora jersey in the GC group at all.
 
Wilco would have had the Zubeldia Ninja award in the bag in a runaway -- with 5th on GC and almost zero camera time, except . . . those pesky crashes. More camera time with the crashes put his Ninja status in jeopardy. But I think he had become so invisible anyway that he was still the best of the lesser-seen but strong GC guys. O'Connor would have been in the running (4th on GC), but that stage 9 win ruined it, (too much camera time) lol. Of course, without the gifted minutes on the stage he won, O'Connor's overall GC position would have been further down in the top 10.
 
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The problem with calling Kelderman a ninja for me is not just the crahses, but mainly the Andorra stage where I saw him get dropped by the first attacks on Beixallis, him coming back when the others eased off, him setting the pace and even closing down an attack from O'Connor, him being dropped a few times more, but still being able to make his way back, and lastly him finishing inside the group of favourites.

So IMO Bilbao was a bigger ninja than Kelderman, but I still wouldn't really call him that, because I definitely noticed him throughout the race, though granted, I was also looking out for him.
 
So IMO Bilbao was a bigger ninja than Kelderman, but I still wouldn't really call him that, because I definitely noticed him throughout the race, though granted, I was also looking out for him.
The biggest ninja of the Tour to me was Lutsenko, especially considering the kind of rider he normally is.
The only times I remember watching him on TV was when he very slowly dropped from the main contenders group.
 
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It depends on your definition of ninja.

Riders who weren't on screen (or very little time)... I can think of Hollenstein, Nieuwenhuis, Eekhoff, Oss, Gruzdev, Boivin, Gautier (impressive for someone who was always on the attack in mid 2010s TDF).
 
Lusenko was my Nija

I knew he was there some where but where ?

He would have been better to go for breaks...might have won one
Never going to hack it as a GC rider in the high mountains
You can’t really criticise a rider for giving the GC thing a real try one time to see if they can get big results or if they would have a more productive career shifting to stage hunting like Mollema has.
 
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I would pick Lutsenko as the biggest ninja too.

It took me 10+ stages to realize it was him and not Vlasov the Astana GC guy in the front group. I was confused as noone seemed to take him seriously and even the team din't stop Izagirre to help him once he was out of stage contention in Andorra.
 
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You can’t really criticise a rider for giving the GC thing a real try one time to see if they can get big results or if they would have a more productive career shifting to stage hunting like Mollema has.
Em yes..when he Luskeno's age and experience

There is a reason he was never a GC riders plus you dont try these things out at the Tour
Of course he can do what he wants but he is possibly missing another stage win and for what ?
 
Em yes..when he Luskeno's age and experience

There is a reason he was never a GC riders plus you dont try these things out at the Tour
Of course he can do what he wants but he is possibly missing another stage win and for what ?
It's very cool these days to dismiss finishing 7th at the Tour de France as a bit of a nothing effort, but he's never ridden a GT for GC before, and a TdF top 10 is not a light career achievement, even in this day and age. If not trying it out at the Tour, then where?

Besides, he got his stage win last year, and the year before that he finished top 20 while riding as a breakaway/stage hunter, plus he has a few 1-week GC wins/podiums and a couple of semi-classics. He's clearly a good climber and TTer who can finish high up in a challenging GT, and if things had gone a little different, he was only 5ish minutes off a podium. I think it would be a shame for a talented rider to never at least once in their career push themselves to see how high up on GC they can go in a GT. If he decides that 7th was his limit and switch back to stage hunting, good for him, but I'm glad he tried.
 
I would pick Lutsenko as the biggest ninja too.

It took me 10+ stages to realize it was him and not Vlasov the Astana GC guy in the front group. I was confused as noone seemed to take him seriously and even the team din't stop Izagirre to help him once he was out of stage contention in Andorra.
His ultimate ninja-move came at the National Championships, when he was smart enough to not win!
 
Em yes..when he Luskeno's age and experience

There is a reason he was never a GC riders plus you dont try these things out at the Tour
Of course he can do what he wants but he is possibly missing another stage win and for what ?
I would not suggest he should go down the GC route again but his top 10 is still a strong addition to his palmares especially compared to someone like Ion Izagirre who has a similar one week stage race pedigree
 
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