Étape of the Day – A Puy Mary GC shake-up

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dissecting the Dauphiné – Stage 5

Featured image courtesy of @ASO/Criterium du Dauphine

The 72nd edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné, shortened as it was, will go down as one entertaining showdown before a Tour de France where we have no idea who will win the yellow jersey in Paris.

Despite the pandemic causing mischief, a five stage Dauphiné has brought drama, surprises and individual glory. Every year this race acts as the best indicator of who’s in form before the biggest stage in world cycling.

EF Pro Cycling’s Daniel Martínez wins the 2020 overall after Jumbo-Visma took their 17th victory of the year with Sepp Kuss. A mixed day for the Dutch team after Primož Roglič abandoned after a crash on Stage 4.

The Tour is now two weeks away, lots to dissect from this year’s Dauphiné.

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First up, the stage winner and another win for Team Jumbo-Visma. We saw attacks everywhere across the 157 km stage, the finish on exactly the same terrain as yesterday in Megève.

Julian Alaphilippe and Pavel Sivakov found themselves caught by the main pack before the race came to life with the likes of Miguel Ángel López, Tadej Pogačar and even Sivakov, who suffered from a crash, trying his best for Team Ineos.

After leader of the race Primož Roglič didn’t start this morning, you’d think that Jumbo-Visma might rest up easy and save their legs. Forget it! Tom Dumoulin attacked on the Col de Romme and in Sepp Kuss he now adds a stage victory from the Vuelta last year. The American has not put a foot wrong over the five days – a loyal domestique, got a free hit today and delivered! Should he be off to the Tour? On this evidence absolutely!

One final climb, one final push to finish this Dauphiné on a high after some disappointment along the way – Jumbo-Visma are fully prepared for the Tour. Despite losing Steven Kruijswijk, losing Primož Roglič to rest easy – they should be satisfied.

The big question is what condition will Roglič be in for the Tour? A question that we’ll ask but three stage wins out of five at this Dauphiné – lots to smile about.

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Second, let’s look at the overall winner of the 72nd Dauphiné – Daniel Martínez. Stage winner at Paris-Nice in 2019, he’s a new talent and a worthy win, the best of his career to date. Martínez found himself isolated but that didn’t matter – EF Pro Cycling and Jonathan Vaughters will be delighted!

Credit must go to Thibaut Pinot who finishes second overall. He did look quiet in the first few days of this race but did start to pick it up – climbing quietly not attacking too much before the final two stages not necessarily a bad thing.

Pinot goes into the Tour as the big French hope. After suffering from an unfortunate knee injury last year – now is the time for redemption. He could have taken the overall today, he gave everything by attacking the race – Pinot deserves credit for having a go.

The French wait for a Dauphiné victory let alone a Tour de France goes on. Not since Christophe Moreau in 2007 has their been a French winner of the Dauphiné but there were even moments today where fellow French riders were trying to help Pinot – some might find that annoying but others might have different opinions. To make things more important for the French they’ll be pleased to see not only Pinot make the podium but also Guillaume Martin, who’s ridden consistently too.

We say it every year that not since 1985 have we had a French Tour de France champion. 35 years since Bernard Hinault in yellow – Thibaut Pinot could end the wait.

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Other names who deserve a mention include Miguel Ángel López, who rode better today and also Julian Alaphilippe seems to be getting stronger day after day.

Ride of the day belongs to Pavel Sivakov. An unfortunate crash on a descent (we’ve had a few!) but he kept going. The Russian even attacked on the final climb, great to see while nursing nasty road rash and a ripped jersey.

So what can we take overall from this year’s Dauphiné?

We’ve seen a head-to-head between Jumbo-Visma and Team Ineos where both their riders in form abandoned the race. Jumbo-Visma will come away the slightly happier and Ineos will wonder where they got some things wrong.

Youth shone brightly at this Dauphiné as we saw huge glimpses into who will be riding and targeting future Grand Tours. Lennard Kämna, Tadej Pogačar, Daniel Martínez, Pavel Sivakov and even key domestiques such as Sepp Kuss are the ones to watch in future.

On a sad note we saw some favourites crash out. Egan Bernal, Emanuel Buchmann, Steven Kruijswijk and Primož Roglič were four big casualties of the race – their prospects before the Tour has begun will be interesting to predict especially as three of the four names above were the fourth placed, third placed and defending champion from last year’s Tour.

Today’s stage also saw a slow ride protest after Kruijswijk himself suffered from a dislocated shoulder on a descent described as having a horrendous road surface. Fabio Jakobsen’s crash in Poland after a downhill sprint, both Remco Evenepoel falling off a bridge and Max Schachmann colliding with a car in Lombardy – rider safety is in an unwelcome spotlight at the moment, something to ponder.

The Tour de France is now so close. All the preparation is complete. We cannot wait until Saturday 29th August in Nice…

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