There was an element of déjÁ  vu in Team Sky's performance on the Planche des Belles Filles climb of Stage 7 of the Tour de France, with a near carbon-copy scenario playing out on the Col du Joux Plane in last month's Criterium du Dauphine.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

With the obvious differences in the lengths of the climbs, the size and qualities of the field, you still can't help but draw parallels. The only marked change in the way Team Sky rode the stage was in having Michael Rogers in front, rather than behind compatriot Richie Porte.

The same devastating attrition as at the Criterium du Dauphine followed, and the same result, Bradley Wiggins in yellow.

Admittedly, it wasn't something I'd predicted ahead of the stage, nor for that matter, BMC and Team Sky's management.

Bradley Wiggins himself noted that with two kilometres to go he actually had to yell at Chris Froome to back the pace off because the damage had already been done.

"The plan was to just ride a good solid tempo, keep our eyes on Cadel and take the jersey at the finish. I never realised, or thought the field would be so decimated the way it was at the finish."

John Lelangue, BMC's sporting director at the Tour made a similar call before the stage citing it as unusual for the first day in the mountains to be decisive in the battle for yellow.

"The climb is too short," said Lelangue. "It's a tough, hard slog, but I don't think any of the top guys will be distanced."

So what happened exactly? For only four riders to get to the top together; Vincenzo Nibali, Cadel Evans, Chris Froome and Wiggins, and some of the time gaps to be considerable came as a major shock.

With the exception of Jurgen van den Broeck who punctured, Samuel Sanchez surprisingly floundered, RadioShack-Nissan looked lost, Menchov cracked, and Levi Leipheimer was below par.

In two days the list of possible contenders slimmed from a handful to just three riders, arguably two.

That call may be premature, but with the Arc-et-Senans time trial only likely to favour the top three, it's hard to see a way back for the also-rans.

The Stage 6 crash that ended Ryder Hesjedal and Tom Danielson's campaigns, sliced a huge chunk of time out of Pierre Rolland, Frank Schleck, Robert Gesink, Alejandro Valverde and Juan Jose Cobo, may well be now looked back on as the decisive day of this year's race.

The consequence of the 'Metz crash' as it is being dubbed, is a clear and dramatic change in the race dynamic. The Tour is suddenly looking all the more like the Criterium du Dauphine, with a very select few light years ahead of the rest.

This has big implications for the tactics that will play out over the next week. Where once controlling the peloton would have seemed an impossible task for Sky - the prospect of keeping Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali alone in check seems hardly that.

Team Sky will play its hand conservatively, but Nibali and Evans can ill-afford to do the same. Exciting racing looms.