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The Tour de France never disappoints, never stops providing drama and is never be an easy day for all involved. Before each stage every team has an objective, a plan and tactics to try and gain the glory. That was exactly what Team Sunweb did today, Danish rider Søren Kragh Andersen attacking at the perfect time after his team-mates did the same.
It was always going to be a tough day for the sprinters. Caleb Ewan managed to make the time cut but it is the fight for the green jersey that continues to shape up. Bora-Hansgrohe did all they need to do to distance Sam Bennett – putting him into difficulty, Peter Sagan taking points at the intermediate sprint and scoring more at the finish line. Bennett’s lead is now 43 points over Sagan so the race for the maillot vert is far from over.
The stage win and the day belongs to Søren Kragh Andersen though. Sunweb played the finale of the stage perfectly after Tiesj Benoot attacked on the penultimate climb, winner of Stage 12 Marc Hirschi did the same on the final climb and then on the descent Kragh Andersen went on a move to leave everyone for dead. The finale in Lyon was full gas bike racing at its finest and the Dane gets his first stage victory at a Grand Tour.
Team Sunweb are in form, have two stage wins and who knows they could go further. After early disappointment with lead-outs for Cees Bol not going well, the German team have lit up the race after Hirschi winning in Sarran and now Kragh Andersen in Lyon. Ireland’s Nico Roche has never won a stage at the Tour de France so could he complete the set?
Once again, we have questions about Peter Sagan. It has turned out to be a good day for Sagan as he clawed back points to reclaim the green jersey but again Bora-Hansgrohe did all the work on the front to distance Sam Bennett kept on going before Sagan couldn’t deliver the final result. Today was all about tactics and Bora got everything right except being caught out by Team Sunweb. Lennard Kämna went away on the penultimate summit to chase down Tiesj Benoot, went away solo but that was in vain.
Sagan isn’t the only rider who’s not quite finding his mojo. He already has a remarkable stage win and stint in the yellow in the bag but Julian Alaphlippe just can’t find that final kick. On Stage 12 he couldn’t bring back Marc Hirschi as he left it too late and today, he let fly to catch Kämna but was brought back. It goes unexplained as to why Alaphilippe isn’t getting the rub of the green at the moment but opportunities are still there in the stages to come.
On paper Stage 14 looked easy for the GC but with two category 4 climbs in the final 20 kilometres it was always going to be a nervy day for the contenders. You just never know what could happen on a stage like today and in Egan Bernal he epitomised the unpredictable beast as he did accelerate at one point to follow Julian Alaphilippe’s attack. Was yesterday’s shedding of time to Primož Roglič not a fair reflection of Bernal? He still says he feels good but that will depend on the upcoming Alpine stages.
Tomorrow could be a crucial stage in the race for yellow. The Grand Colombier has never hosted a summit finish until Stage 15 of the 2020 Tour de France. Primož Roglič will look to defend or perhaps strengthen his hold of the maillot jaune but tomorrow does look a suitable finish for Egan Bernal to go on the offensive.
No changes in the other jersey’s after today. Benoit Cosnefroy could seek to extend his lead in the polka-dot jersey and Tadej Pogačar keeps his white jersey for another day too. Cosnefroy will look to do all he can to keep the title of King of the Mountains as somewhat of a moral booster for AG2R La Mondiale. The team lost Romain Bardet to concussion this morning despite Bardet riding to the finish yesterday. There are lingering questions as to why he stayed on the race yesterday despite crashing and now we know that Romain Bardet from scans has suffered a ‘small haemorrhage’. Speedy recoveries to Bardet on what is a sad conclusion to his final Tour de France riding for AG2R.
No easy days at the Tour de France and they don’t get any easier.