Michał Kwiatkowski put in a sterling climbing performance on the massive Grand Colombier climb to win stage 13 of the Tour de France. The Polish rider, who in recent years has raced mostly in a support role to his Ineos Grenadiers team’s GC ambitions, went clear of the breakaway low down on the climb to solo to the win. Tadej Pogačar attacked inside the final 500 meters to gain back a few seconds on Jonas Vingegaard. The Danish rider still holds yellow, but with a slim and slowly dwindling gap.
- Kwiatkowski joined the day’s main breakaway, a 19-rider move that went off the front more than 100 km from the finish. Behind, UAE Team Emirates set a hard pace on the front, never letting the group get more than a few minutes’ advantage on what they clearly intended to be a day for the GC.
- “When I entered the break I thought it was just a free ticket to the bottom of the climb but I never thought that this group would fight for the stage win because UAE were pulling pretty hard in the back, but I guess it’s not easy to chase 19 guys on the flat for more than 100k,” said Kwiatkowski at the finish in the TV interview.
- Despite UAE’s apparent intentions, the Grand Colombier climb itself was mostly a stalemate. Marc Soler set a hard early tempo, but hardly managed to chip away at Kwiatkowski’s advantage. While Vingegaard’s teammates were steadily dropped, the yellow jersey still had Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss at his side and seemed relatively comfortable for most of the climb.
- Pogačar waited to attack until just under 500 meters to go. Vingegaard was able to match the initial acceleration, but Pogačar kept the pressure on and gradually pulled away for a four-second advantage at the finish. Crucially, he finished third on the stage, and picked up another four seconds in time bonuses. He’s now just nine seconds behind Vingegaard on the overall classification.
- Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) 3:17:33
- Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) @ :47
- Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) @ :50
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) @ :54
- Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 1:03
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 53:48:50
- Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) @ :09
- Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) 2:51
- Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers) @ 4:48
- Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) @ 5:03
Brief notes and analysis
- The victory is Kwiatkowski’s second career Tour stage win, but came in a much different fashion than his first. In 2020, he joined a 150 km breakaway and then went clear with then-teammate Richard Carapaz, and the pair crossed the line together. Today, Kwiatkowski went solo with 11 km to go and rode what he called “the hardest effort of my life” to hold on for the win.
- While Kwiatkowski is mostly known for his talents as one of the best support riders in the sport, early in his career he showed signs of possible GC abilities himself, finishing 11th overall in his first Tour in 2013. He’s also won on climbing-heavy one-day courses like Amstel Gold Race (twice), Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa, and the 2014 World Road Championships. His personal results have often taken a backseat to his teamwork, but today was a reminder that he’s among the most talented racers in the sport on any given day.
- Pogačar appears to be showing a new approach to taking time on Vingegaard. Last year, the Slovenian had the advantage in explosivity, while Vingegaard was better in the long Alpine climbs. So this year, Pogačar has tempered his aggressive, attacking nature and is using his team to set a high tempo before attacking late on the climb. Stage 13 marks the third time he’s tried it, and all have been successful, gaining anywhere from four to 24 seconds.
- The General Classification remained relatively stable. After his jump up the standings yesterday, Thibaut Pinot slipped back slightly again, and Groupama-FDJ teammate David Gaudu also lost contact when Adam Yates lifted the pace. Tom Pidcock had the strongest ride of his Tour so far.
What’s next: stage 14 preview
There’s no rest for the weary now that we’re in the Alps. Saturday’s 159 km ride from Annemasse to Morzine les Portes du Soleil features five categorized climbs, including two Cat. 1s and an ascent of the hors categorie Col de Joux Plane (11.7 km at 8.5% average) to cap it off before a rollicking descent to Morzine. With so many climbs on order, it’s likely a day for a breakaway, especially for EF Education-EasyPost’s Neilson Powless to defend his KOM lead from challengers. The descent – which is as technical as it is fast – will possibly complicate things for the GC, but with just a kilometer or so of flat terrain before the finish, we may see some aggressive racing over the top of the Joux Plane. GC teams may try to seed the break with top descenders – your Wout van Aerts, for instance – as a way to help team leaders. It will make for a nervous, high-stakes day of racing.
Notable on social
Speaking of the Joux Plane descent, CPA head Adam Hansen promised several weeks ago to do what he could to ensure its safety, including working with the ASO to fix the road surface where necessary and reconning the route himself to post video. Here’s his ride down:
- There’s apparently a new Specialized Tarmac coming soon, and Ronan Mc Laughlin has decidedly mixed feelings about it.
- The Chris Froome-Sylvan Adams honeymoon appears to be very much over, with dueling statements suggesting an impending split.
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