This is no normal Tour de France. We didn’t have a bunch of flat stages to get things started; instead we had a couple of hard, hilly days in the Basque Country. The overall contenders haven’t been waiting until the third week to make their moves; they’ve been attacking each other since the very first stage. And we’ve already seen the two big favourites get the better of each other at different times.
On Wednesday and Thursday, stages 5 and 6, the riders took to the winding roads of the Pyrenees for the first proper mountain stages of the race. And across those two days we saw a whole heap of action.
On stage 5, we saw GC contender Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) infiltrate the breakaway, win the stage, and move into the overall lead. That same day, two-time Tour champ Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) lost over a minute to his arch-rival, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).
The following stage, Jumbo-Visma were on the move, forcing Hindley out of the maillot jaune and setting up another battle between Vingegaard and Pogačar on the day’s final climb. In a reversal of fortunes, Pogačar dropped Vingegaard, but the latter did enough to take the overall lead.
With the amount of action that’s happened already, it’s hard to believe the race is only six stages old. With 15(!) stages still to go, the race is intriguingly poised. The three riders most expected to reach the final podium – Vingegaard, Pogačar, and Hindley – are already there. But so much can still happen before Paris.
In the meantime, let’s look back on two dramatic days in the Pyrenees, courtesy of photographers Kristof Ramon and Ashley & Jered Gruber.