Never before has the Puy Mary hosted a summit finish at the Tour de France – no doubt that organisers ASO will use the finish again after an incredible day on Stage 13. The GC has been shaken up, the fight for the stage win was enthralling and we’ve seen some heroic rides.
Focusing on the stage win, today was all about the early break. There was a huge fight to form a breakaway with a category one climb right at the start, a day that wasn’t going to be comfortable with 4,400 vertical metres to climb into the Massif Central. We saw the like of Dan Martin, Thibaut Pinot and Julian Alaphilippe try to instigate a move and, in the end, they did get away, the peloton happy.
The fight for stage win came down to tactics from EF Pro Cycling sending British rider Hugh Carthy up the road alongside Daniel Martínez and Neilson Powless plus Bora-Hansgrohe releasing Max Schachmann who tried yesterday and recent star at the Dauphiné Lennard Kämna. Powless did amazing work by attacking before the penultimate climb along with Schachmann. Meanwhile Martínez and Kämna caught up with Schachmann on the final climb to duke it out for the stage glory.
After winning the Dauphiné overall, huge expectations have been placed on Dani Martínez’s shoulders, a rider who can seriously climb and deliver. His first Grand Tour stage win has been secured on the steep slopes of the Puy Mary, a great day for Jonathan Vaughters and EF Pro Cycling.
For Bora-Hansgrohe that was the first stage at this Tour where we saw them in full attack mode in the mountains. Stage 7 to Lavaur was an active day to distance the sprinters, Peter Sagan hasn’t been himself but in the past two days they’ve improved to come within a chance of taking a stage. Winner of Paris-Nice Max Schachmann deserves ride of the day, one stage after giving his all and in Lennard Kämna we have two German riders who are still in with a shout of taking a stage at this year’s race.
Stage win sorted; Stage 13 saw an enormous shake-up for the general classification. The big talking point is Egan Bernal losing 38 seconds to Primož Roglič and dropping to third place overall. Ineos Grenadiers chose to attack the stage today but came out with nothing to show. Richard Carapaz attacked on the Neronne but that went nowhere in helping Bernal on the final gruelling slope of the Puy Mary. Dave Brailsford and the team won’t be running out of ideas just yet but it’s not looking good for the defending champion.
The only crumb of comfort for Ineos will be what happened last year when by thirteen stages Egan Bernal was 2mins 52secs behind Julian Alaphilippe and then excelled in the third week. There has been lots of talk that because of last year’s Giro d’Italia collapse Primož Roglič might falter – there cannot surely be a way that will happen at this year’s Tour. Primož Roglič is incredible. Jumbo-Visma despite some struggles along the way are the dominant team, the team that look unbeatable. The way Roglič ascended today’s climb hardly out of the saddle was like watching Chris Froome of years gone by.
Another solid ride by Sepp Kuss, Tom Dumoulin isn’t falling away even though he isn’t the strongest man – Jumbo-Visma have dealt a massive blow in their fight to end Team Ineos’s hold of the yellow jersey for the past decade. Primož Roglič though might yet have a genuine threat to his lead and it’s a fellow countryman – Tadej Pogačar. How is this man only 21-years-old? He’s riding as though the Tour de France is second nature to him – he reminds us of Nairo Quintana in 2013, making his Tour debut, winning the white jersey and finishing second overall. Friends and from Slovenia they may be but Pogačar and Roglič could yet be fighting it out together for the top step.
It’s turning into Slovenia versus Colombia at this year’s race. While Roglič and Pogačar moving up to second place, we have four Colombians in the chasing pack – Egan Bernal, Rigoberto Urán, Nairo Quintana and Miguel Ángel López. All four lost time to the yellow jersey, López 16 seconds, Bernal and Urán 38 seconds plus Quintana conceding 40 seconds exactly. Urán was seriously struggling today so not an entirely pleasing day for EF and for Quintana today was the first day he fell backwards.
Good ride by Adam Yates who still has ambitions to take his first Tour de France stage win and what about Richie Porte – he’s riding slowly but surely to possibly rise up the pecking order but has lost a key domestique Bauke Mollema to a fractured wrist. Bahrain-McLaren will also be satisfied with Mikel Landa continuing to climb consistently.
It was however not a great day for the French. Thibaut Pinot is already out of the GC race, Julian Alaphilippe has missed two opportunities in the last few days but the big disappointment comes from Guillaume Martin losing considerable chunks of time plus Romain Bardet who suffered from a crash. Never nice to see riders fall from grace and there are now no French riders in the top ten on GC. AG2R La Mondiale now have a clear objective – target the polka-dot jersey with Benoit Cosnefroy to carry it onwards, maybe help Nans Peters earn points and hope that Bardet recovers for a stage win to claim some KOM points.
The yellow jersey is now Primož Roglič’s to lose. Egan Bernal is out of the white jersey as Tadej Pogačar moves into it as best young rider. Sam Bennett remains in the green jersey and great to see him making the time cut day after day.
Tomorrow will see another tactical day as the Tour rides from Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon. It shouldn’t be a day for the pure sprinters but should be a stage for the all-rounder. After starting in Nice, tomorrow will be the biggest major city the Tour passes through before Paris.
The Alps are ever closer, the Tour is far from over but after today we now have a new structure to who is on form and who’s not in the race to yellow. Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar – this year’s Tour looks set to be a battle royale between two Slovenians who are showing their strength ahead of everyone else.