First of all, Happy Bastille Day to all my French friends. I am in Paris today too, saw the whole city decorated and the planes fly by and even saw Emmanuel Macron’s convoy go past on my run.
Vive la France.
Bastille day commences with lovely fireworks, though I’m not sure i’ll be able to say up that late(11 pm is VERY late in the night for me and I am almost 2 hours into my sleep by then).
But hey, if you saw today’s stage it was no less than a fireworks show. (I struggled to watch it, because of a very poor internet connection, but I did manage to follow most of it and can write a review).
Today stage was short. And punchy. And hard. REALLY hard. MIND BOGGLINGLY HARD.
After the horrid day of climbing yesterday, ASO thought it was appropriate to have the toughest climb in France, “Mur De Pegure” on today’s stage.
Yeah, this is what it looks like. If i’m honest I have done 1 climb which was 16% for 1k and then 22% for another k, but at the 22% I had turned back because my bike didn’t have enough gears. This thing is 9.3 kms long.
And well, as you can see, the rest of the stage wasn’t flat either. And it was short, which means people were going to attack. A LOT.
As soon as the stage started, just like Lance Armstrong had predicted yesterday, 2 Frenchmen Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) and King of the Mountains Warren Barguil (Sunweb), went on the offensive.
Jakob Fuglsang(Astana) was suffering badly and honestly, it takes guts to even sit on the bike with a broken wrist, let alone trying to navigate a stage like this.
Barguil and Voeckler couldn’t get that far, 13 seconds at max and then were reeled in by the Peloton by the 10th KM.
Another frenchman, Tour legend, Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) took the intermediate sprint closely followed by Philipe Gilbert (Quickstep Floors)
Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) went solo after 28 kms even as Gilbert and Chavanel were reeled in by the Peloton.
Barguil attacked behind De Marchi trying to keep his Polka Dot jersey and as a pleasant surpise, Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) also attacked behind him!
De Marchi took the 1st Cat 1 climb at Col De Latrape.
The best part however, was seeing Team Sky’s Mikel Landa attack. Froome’s main domestique after Thomas and lying himself at 7th, Landa joined Contador and Barguil.
The group was reunited with De Marchi as they pressed forward.
Meanwhile, finally Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked from the peloton along with his teammate Carlos Bentacaur, Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2R La Mondaile) and Barguil.
Soon, Quintana, Michal Kwiatkowski(Team Sky), Barguil, Vuillermoz were 25 seconds behind Landa and Contador.
It was vintage Alberto Contador today, attacking and leading. The 21-man yellow jersey group was led by Diego Ulissi (UAE) and Alberto Bettiol(Cannondale).
Contador and Landa pushed like anything with Contador summiting the Col D’Agnes first. During the downhill, Romain Bardet and Chris Froome sped up to reduce their deficit to the two leaders while Quintana, Barguil and Kwiatkowski almost caught Contador and Landa, being just 10 seconds behind.
Quintana, Kwiatkowski and Barguil were about to catch Contador and Landa but Contador was on the offensive again with 38km to go.
Contador and Landa started the climb to Mur de Péguère with the Yellow jersey group at 2.10 behind.
Fuglsang meanwhile pulled out of the Tour de France with an injured wrist.
Barguil and Quintana rejoined Contador and Landa with less than 500m to go to the top of Mur de Péguère and Barguil then took the ascent at Peguere.
Kwiatkowski was asked to rejoin Froome and they played the Old school game of suffer, as they tried to attack and increase the pace for Aru and then slowed down making him uncomfortable.
Quintana, Contador, Barguil and Landa had a 2 minutes lead over the 8-man yellow jersey group with 12km to go.
Rigberto Uran(Cannondale Drapac) attacked on the downhill but was caught.
Froomey attacked to again make Aru uncomfortable, but didn’t go too far. Dan Martin (Quickstep Floors) attacked and was followed by White jersey, Simon Yates (Orica Scott).
Landa, Contador, Quintana and Barguil went under the Flame Rouge (1k to go) and after last time’s embarrassment on Stage 9, Barguil was the winner.
Frenchman winning on Bastille Day!
Jersey wearers after Stage 13:
Honestly, it was one of the most exciting days of racing today.
What will tomorrow bring?