It was almost a fairytale ending to his final Tour de France for local hero Thibaut Pinot, but Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates kept control of the time gaps in the peloton, and perfectly set up their leader for a deserved and confident stage win three days after the GC slipped from his grasp.
Jonas Vingegaard tried to add a mountain stage to his TT victory, but third place in the sprint for the line was plenty to maintain his vice-like grip on the yellow jersey.
- Of the various breakaway iterations that found a small advantage in the first hour, the strongest and strangest included none other than Jonas Vingegaard, however, that was soon brought to an end by the GC teams left wanting. Lidl-Trek was ultimately responsible for forging the day’s move with Mattias Skjelmose once again instrumental in manoeuvring Giulio Ciccone, head to toe in polka-dots, to the front of the race. Their efforts were successful, creating the 10-rider selection that led the way over the last few climbs of the Tour, mathematically sealing the Mountains Classification jersey along the way.
- Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot was the stand-out participant in the day’s move, his last chance at glory on the last mountain stage of his last Tour de France. With the peloton barely 90 seconds behind them, Pinot did not wait around before accelerating away from his remaining rivals on the Petit Ballon, the veteran Frenchman going solo just outside 30 km to go, a huge party waiting for him higher up the climb. Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Warren Barguil (Arkéa Samsic) and Chris Harper (Jayco-AlUla) formed the reduced chase behind.
- Pinot still had about 20 seconds at the foot of the Col du Platzerwasel, but he was soon caught by Pidcock and Barguil. However, not far behind them – official time gaps were iffy to say the least – Pogačar was ready to fire, and with 13 km to go, the Slovenian accelerated hard. The yellow jersey was, as ever, right on his wheel, and the top two happily awaited best-of-the-rest Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroën) who towed them up to the head of the race, where they caught and passed the surviving attackers.
- It was stalemate over the final summit and onto the plateau as Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) went in pursuit of his brother Simon’s (Jayco-AlUla) GC-climbing attack, conveniently hitching a ride back up to his leader who could sit up and do no work as Vingegaard imitated a track sprinter with repeated over-the-shoulder glances. With 5 km to go, the Yates twins joined the leading trio and Adam went straight to the front to lead out Pogačar for a redemptive stage win.
- The efforts of the brothers Yates – combined with the misfortune of Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos Grenadiers) who crashed early in the stage – meant that Adam cemented the first Grand Tour podium finish of his career, while Simon jumped up to fourth. Further down, Sepp Kuss’s (Jumbo-Visma) involvement in the same early crash as the young Spaniard saw the bloodied American slip out of the top 10, making room for David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) to slide into 9th and 10th respectively.
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Thibaut Pinot had a monumental cheering section on the penultimate climb of the Tour, and though it wasn’t the start of the ultimate fairytale finale, he was the first of the riders to arrive at the party in a moment that will live long in the memory.
Many of Pinot’s fans, including a large crowd from the endearingly intentioned FFL (Fédé de la Lose) – “together celebrating the French who lose” – have been preparing since last night. And yes, that is former French national champion and former FDJ teammate Arthur Vichot screaming into the megaphone.
- Another stage win is good news not just for Tadej Pogačar, but also for Netflix which has managed to get UAE Team Emirates involved in the next series of Unchained – in a manner of speaking, at least…
- The moving parts that keep a WorldTeam going at the Tour de France are far-reaching and nearly always invisible. Iain Treloar takes you onto the DSM-Firmenich team bus for some insight into the life of the all-important bus driver.
- Kate Wagner wrote on Matej Mohorič’s close stage 19 victory and the rider’s inspiring and touching reaction to his third career Tour stage win, a scene that broke beyond the borders of our little sport on Friday evening.
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