Étape of the Day – Arise King Lemmy!

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This is turning out to be a fantastic 107th edition of the Tour de France. We’re seeing new talent emerging on the biggest stage and today another young gun blew everyone away. The Alps have arrived, the GC race continues – so much to summarise!

Let’s start off with the stage win. A mass break went away including Pierre Rolland and after Egan Bernal’s prospects of defending his title went up in smoke, it wasn’t surprising to see Ineos Grenadiers get in the break too. Giro d’Italia champion Richard Carapaz and Russian Pavel Sivakov went up the road but they were joined by young German star Lennard Kämna, recent stage winner at the Dauphiné, and now at a Grand Tour.

24-years-of-age this is without a doubt Kämna’s biggest moment in his young career with many victories still to come! He had to follow Richard Carapaz’s attack on the penultimate climb and then managed to distance the Ecuadorian to take all the glory. A magnificent ride, a turn up for the books and a huge boost for Bora-Hansgrohe at this Tour. The team have shown some strength in breakaways, they’ve worked hard for Peter Sagan despite he himself not being his best and now Lennard Kämna delivers.

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GC aspirations are gone for Egan Bernal who once again lost time today. You must however take your hats off to the young man who’s been honest that he hasn’t been at his best. It is absolutely the case that this defeat will be a learning curve for Bernal but more importantly it changes the mood of the team. Ineos Grenadiers certainly changed tact today by putting Carapaz and Sivakov in the break – stage wins are now the priority.

One point to make is we’re not seeing the Julian Alaphilippe from both 2018 and 2019. Of course, he has one stage win in the bag after Stage 2 in Nice plus the yellow jersey as an added bonus. Today though he couldn’t follow Richard Carapaz’s attack and Lennard Kämna either. It shouldn’t be too much of a concern it’s just a case of not having the punch to follow attacks.

The race for the green and polka-dot jerseys are enthralling this year. Benoit Cosnefroy’s lead as King of the Mountains is now level with Pierre Rolland, Cosnefroy won’t be keeping the jersey until Paris unless he attacks tomorrow, takes point atop the Col de la Madeliene and wins the stage overall! The Frenchman will have to go deep if he wants to keep the jersey.

Sam Bennett remains in green but he still faces a fight. The terrain doesn’t get any easier and if Peter Sagan can distance Bennett over the coming stages plus the intermediate sprint in Paris as well as the final showpiece – the maillot vert isn’t entirely secure for the Irishman. Add Matteo Trentin going in the break to the equation and that doesn’t make things any easier!

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Two French riders also abandoned today. Lots of respect to Groupama-FDJ’s David Gaudu who suffered from a back injury earlier in the race plus Jérôme Cousin for Team Total Direct Énergie who went solo on Stage 3 and on numerous occasions found himself in a breakaway.

Tomorrow sees the highest point of the Tour at Méribel with an extra paved road, the Col de la Loze at 2,304 metres in altitude. The GC contenders rode conservatively today probably knowing what is to come, Jumbo-Visma in defensive mode. Tadej Pogačar did accelerate towards the end, Primož Roglič followed but the race for the podium will be interesting as Miguel Ángel López did show his wheel today.

Massive stage tomorrow. Jumbo-Visma have it all to do to keep Primož Roglič in yellow, the battle for the podium intensifies and who will be in the polka-dot jersey? Thankfully the race will make it all the way to Paris with no riders testing positive for the virus. Great to see race director Christian Prudhomme return a negative test after self-isolation, he’s back waving his flag – Vive le Tour!

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Dissecting the Dauphiné – Stage 4

Featured image courtesy of @ASO/Criterium du Dauphine

There are moments in sport that can surprise us out of the blue and for today’s stage of the Dauphiné we had surprises in abundance.

Stage 4 from Ugine to Megève with seven categorised climbs including the Montee de Bisanne and right at the start we got a breakaway with Jumbo-Visma doing everything they could to shut it down before letting them have the stage win.

Julian Alaphilippe, Fausto Masnada, Luis León Sánchez, David de la Cruz and other big names were always going to be threats and at one point Primož Roglič was out of the virtual lead.

With Alaphilippe in the break you’d thought it’d be his day but not to be as Lennard Kämna, young German star and one day after he had a go on yesterday’s stage. A bright future ahead and on a difficult day for BORA-Hansgrohe as they lost Emanuel Buchmann to an abandon.

Kämna rightly deserves his day in the spotlight but talking about Julian Alaphilippe, he’ll be pleased to get some more climbing in the legs. It doesn’t look as if he’ll be in the best form going into the Tour and the GC a long way off.

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It is the numerous surprises however that are the big talking points from today’s stage and it came right at the start. Egan Bernal did not start the stage due to a back injury – again throwing up more questions for Team INEOS.

With the defending champion now out of the running, what on earth happens now for the team? Bernal looked out of form yesterday and today Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were not visible, perhaps saving themselves but in Russian Pavel Sivakov he’ll be the new option. It’s maybe not a lot to read into but Bernal suffering from a back injury two weeks before the Tour – doesn’t look good.

For Jumbo-Visma they’ve also suffered from an unlikely setback after looking so solid. A key climber and last year’s third placed rider at the Tour Steven Kruijswijk crashed dislocating his shoulder, for racer leader Primož Roglič he also suffered from a fall.

Kruijswijk now out of the race, now unlikely to make the Tour – that is a blow for the team. Jumbo-Visma also experienced a bit of a test from today as other teams decided to take it to them. Team Bahrain-McLaren rode well for Mikel Landa by putting Dylan Teuns in the break but also riding on the front up the Bisanne.

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Jumbo-Visma and Ineos have both suffered setbacks today and other teams showed their metal.

Thibaut Pinot once again looked good with Reichenbach his domestique looking better but talk about someone who has ridden like an invisible man almost as if he’s not being taken seriously – Nairo Quintana. We keep on saying that he appears to be a refreshed rider but apart from that he doesn’t seem to be putting a foot wrong. Unless anything disastrous happens, Quintana is a pre-race threat when the Tour begins in Nice.

As mentioned we saw Emanuel Buchmann sadly abandon the race. The German rider finished fourth overall at the Tour last year, so we do hope he’ll be back racing for yellow very soon.

Ride of the day of course belongs to Lennard Kämna and team of the goes to Bahrain-McLaren for taking things up on the Montée de Bisanne and doing some decent efforts for Mikel Landa. Credit also to David de la Cruz as he swept up enough KOM mountain points to move into the jersey replacing teammate and yesterday’s stage winner Davide Formolo.

One final stage to go, Primož Roglič on the cusp of taking the Dauphiné overall but knowing that he’s taken a small hit from a crash but also the loss of a key domestique. The Tour isn’t far off now as the Grand Départ gets excitingly closer.

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