We decided to take a moment to shed a little light on the often-overlooked domestique. These are the five most underrated riders in Tour de France history.
Geraint Thomas1 of 6
The 2018 champion of the Criterium du Dauphine, an eight-stage race that's considered a warm-up for the Tour, Geraint Thomas has been Chris Froome's wingman since 2010, helping the Brit don the maillot jaune four times in Paris. This year, Thomas might have his sights set on something more than being a helping hand for Froome. After getting a taste of wearing yellow last year—he held the race lead for the first four stages—the Welshman might be looking to capture his first Tour title.
Photo/ Marc Poppleton, Flickr
Joseph Bruyere2 of 6
During the height of Eddy Merckx's illustrious career—rightly considered by many to be the greatest in cycling history—the five-time Tour champion leaned heavily on his teammates. And none felt that weight more than Joseph Buyere. Buyere protected Merckx on every chaotic sprint finish, paced him up every climb and supplied him with food and tools when necessary for four of Merckx's five Tour titles from 1970 to 1976.
Yet, could Bruyere have been every bit as good as his master? He placed third in the opening prologue and eventually wore yellow for four days during the 1974 Tour. He also won the mountainous 19th stage of the 1972 iteration. When he was finally able to race as a team's GC contender in 1978, he finished a respectable fourth after spending eight days in yellow. He would never race in the Tour again, having given his best years to the service of his teammate.
Jens Voigt3 of 6
If the Tour had an award for Mr. Congeniality, Jens Voigt would have won it for each of the 14 years he finished the race. But Voigt was more than just a big personality, he was also one of the most respected riders in the peloton. Consistently in breaks and routinely beside his GC-contending teammates up climbs, Voigt received more on-screen time than any other rider because he was always in the thick of things. He served as a domestique for podium finishers Ivan Basso and Frank Schleck, as well as for eventual winner Andy Schleck. Fortunately, all his hard work didn't go unrewarded. Through 17 years of riding the Tour, Voigt captured two stages and donned yellow himself for a day in 2005.
Andreas Kloden4 of 6
In 2004, Andreas Kloden road in support of teammate Jan Ullrich. Yet, Kloden's legs proved to be stronger than the man he was riding in support of and finished second overall behind Lance Armstrong. Rumors then circulated that Kloden would move teams, giving himself a greater opportunity to claim the maillot jaune in Paris. Kloden declined other teams' offers and returned to support Ullrich in 2005. Kloden would go on to finish second again in 2006 and eventually became the domestique for Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong in 2009 when he finished fifth. Though he never donned yellow, he was the ultimate team player.
Photo/Andrew Sides, Flickr
George Hincapie5 of 6
It can't be a coincidence that one man was the teammate of three different Tour de France champions who accumulated nine maillot jaunes (subsequent UCI penalties aside). George Hincapie was a key contributor to Lance Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories and, later, helped Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans capture yellow. Hincapie also holds the record for most number of Tour de France finishes with 16. While his skills might not have ever carried him to a podium finish, his glory lies with his teammates' successes.
Photo/Ray Krebs, Flickr