Another Tour de France is done and dusted and all that’s left is for fans and pundits alike to dissect the race and give it some context, writes Philip Gomes.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

So what was the 2014 Tour all about? What can we take away from it? Was it any good? My take is that while there was a lot to enjoy, this race was not as good competitively as the Giro d'Italia, but your mileage may vary.

The mountains classification battle was interesting until the final week, but the general and points classifications were settled early on. That said, it allowed us to focus on other riders and their incredible performances, like the heartbreaking metres-only loss by Kiwi Jack Bauer to Alexander Kristoff.

The race was all about one rider, Vincenzo Nibali, who proved himself to be one of the most complete riders in the world today. On a parcours which really did test the limits of the peloton, Nibali mastered the cobbles, weather and himself not only to win, but to do so comprehensively.

You can argue that the abandons of Chris Froome and Alberto Contador played a major part in handing Nibali a relatively easy road to Paris, but that avoids the reality of what we saw on the Stage 5 cobbles. It was there that Nibali won the race, not only establishing a time gap to beat but also a psychological one. It was a stunning performance and may have been the single best performance of the year by any rider.

Once Froome and Contador were removed from the race, Nibali's battle would have been with himself and he was always in control, covering any move or opponent that looked even remotely dangerous, and with four stage wins along the way, he did it with panache.

He truly came of age at the Tour and has left us wondering what else he might be capable of. In an era where there is so much specialisation in racing, Nibali looks like a racer of old, one equally comfortable in the high mountains as he is on the pave. His is a career yet to be completed but I'm prepared to say that he is the best pure bike racer in the world today, always willing to lead.

Like the Giro d'Italia this Tour placed some unfamiliar and young faces in the spotlight, proving that the sport has a bright and interesting future.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), Romain Bardet (AG2R). Leopold Konig (Netapp), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEDGE) all showed there is depth and diversity in professional men's cycling.

Add that group to the cohort of young talent seen at the Giro - Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Fabio Aru (Astana), Wilco Kelderman (Belkin), Sebastián Henao (Sky) and Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) - and you can see that the future is almost now. These are just some of the riders who will shape the future of the sport once Nibali, Froome and Contador pass their peaks.

Of course that future may have actually arrived this year. It may just be that Froome, Contador and Nibali will never win another Tour with that selection of talent chasing them hard.

Each year at the Tour at least one Aussie steps up with a ride to excite us. Last year it was Orica GreenEDGE and Simon Gerrans and this year veteran Michael Rogers who gave us what we wanted.

Rogers has received a new lease on life after a anti-doping scare which could have pushed him out of the sport forever. But justice was served and after a soul-searching wait, the Canberran was back on two wheels in a way that surprised but also confirmed what we know about him. He is tough and talented, and with the benefit of experience, is now in a sweet spot career wise. We can expect to see him at his best for a few years yet.

For Orica-GreenEDGE this Tour was a mess right from the start. Actually even before that, with highly-valued South African Daryl Impey returning an adverse analytical finding for Probenecid. Then, Michael Matthews crashed out on the eve of the race which forced the team to turn to other less prepared riders to fill its ranks.

One of those, Yates, proved that he is a Grand Tour rider to watch. The 21-year-old was pulled from the race after the second rest day, but had shown enough to give the team a silver lining to its cloudy road to Paris.

But one bad Tour does not a season make, and if Rogers's experience is anything to go by, adversity will only make you stronger. The team will no doubt rebound at the Vuelta a Espana after banking a bad Tour experience.

Lastly, we had the inaugural women's La Course, won by the peerless Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv). The victor was as unsurprising as were the performances of the women on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Every rider was willing and able and the racing was hard fought. The event was a good first step in lifting the profile of women's cycling but there is also a lot more to do structurally and politically in making that effort stick. It can be done. The question is: will it?

Once again Cycling Central was pleased to bring you the race and you rewarded us with good viewership and some great fun and conversation and feedback on social media. We will always value your feedback and do listen.

Thank you all for watching and reading during the Tour.