The GC battle at the 2020 Tour de France exploded on Friday’s 13th stage, as the peloton rumbled up the steep slopes of Puy Mary in France’s Massif Central. Tadej Pogačar attacked, Egan Bernal faltered, and France’s collective hopes for a Tour de France melted in the September sunshine.
There was a major GC shakeup, and the Tour has a completely new storyline to follow as it heads in the soaring Alpine climbs this weekend.
So, how did the rest of the GC favorites fare? Let’s break down the action:
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)
The good news: Not a ton of good news for Egan Bernal today. He was dropped by Primož Roglič, lost 38 seconds to the yellow jersey, and slipped from second to third place in the overall standings. He now sits in third, 59 seconds down.
The bad news: Hooboy, where do we begin? The above comments are bad enough (lost time, dropped, now behind Pogačar), but the action of the day paints a more dismal picture for Bernal and his Ineos Grenadiers teammates. Ineos Grenadiers adopted a curious strategy on the day, placing Pavel Sivakov in the early move, and then trying at one point to outmuscle Jumbo-Visma on the Pas de Peyrol. In the end, the whole operation blew up stupendously, and Ineos Grenadiers ended up looking like a bumbling mess, and not the seven-time Tour de France champs we know them to be. The team’s aggression on the Peyrol succeeded in angering all of France, as Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) were the two big casualties. The move also dropped all of Ineos! Only Richard Carapaz and Bernal remained in the group. Carapaz then attacked which shed nobody at all. When Tom Dumoulin rode back to the front, he gave Carapaz a curious look, as if to say ‘Hey man, we still have 10 kilometers left!’ It was a look that echoed how all of us likely felt about Bernal and Ineos Grenadiers today. Wow, we did not expect that.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
The good news: Dare I say it: Primož Roglič may have won the Tour de France today. OK, OK, I’m going to pour some cold water on myself because we still have two summit finishes, an individual time trial, and four mountain stages to go. But you gotta admit that Roglič looked calm and collected and oh so smooth on the climb to Puy Mary. He dropped Bernal, marked Tadej Pogačar, and consolidated his lead in the GC. He has a 44-second gap on Pogačar, and Bernal is at 59 seconds. Like Bernal, the final result only tells part of the story here. Jumbo-Visma looked extremely strong on the final climb, with Sepp Kuss, George Bennett, and Tom Dumoulin all riding alongside Roglič on the final climb, while most other GC riders were either isolated or left with just one gasping teammate (Bernal, Mikel Landa). The real positive, in my opinion, comes from the way Roglič looked on that climb. He appeared to be so comfortable. His legs spun around in that metronomic, high-cadence style, as if he were winding up a clock. Everyone else, at some point, was out of the saddle and straining to turn over the pedals on the steep grade, while Roglič just whirred on by. Of all of the GC stars — even Pogačar — Primož Roglič looked the most composed. He was silky smooth. He made climbing that steep, awful volcano look easy.
The bad news: No real bad news, other than that Bernal seems to be getting stronger with every stage. Sure, Roglič was isolated when the big blows began to fly, but that’s expected.
Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic)
The good news: Quintana bid ‘au revoir’ to the two Frenchman that sat in front of him in GC (Bardet and Martin). Of course, he’s said ‘Hola! ¿Cómo estás?’ to Rigoberto Urán and ‘Živjo kako si!’ to Pogačar, both of whom leapfrogged him in the standings. Thus, Quintana still sits in 5th place, but his gap to yellow went up from 32 seconds on Thursday to 1:12 today.
The bad news: Quintana is very clearly not the best climber in the race. In fact, he’s probably only the 6th or 7th best climber in the race, as Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren), and even Urán are all climbing better than he is at the moment. Will that continue in the Alps? We just don’t know. For whatever reason Quintana was riding pretty far back in the group of contenders when Pogačar made his big move and drew out Roglič. It didn’t seem that Quintana even tried to go with the two, and he simply had to climb at his own pace up the big mountain. He lost time, and yellow really seems an impossibility for him at this moment.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
The good news: Man, what a great ride by Adam Yates! I didn’t expect Yates to continue to follow the leaders after he lost the yellow jersey on stage 9, but on Friday he looked quite strong on the final push up Puy Mary. He was initially dropped on the lower slopes but fought his way back to finish alongside Bernal and Urán. He even moved up a spot on GC, and now sits in 7th place overall at 1:42. My old prediction was that he would be hunting stages at this point, but that’s not the case.
The bad news: I don’t think there’s much bad news today. Adam Yates is having the consistent and steady Tour de France ride that we have wanted to see since 2016. While his 1:42 deficit means the leaders will never let him escape in a breakaway for a stage win, his strong ride Friday is a sign that the top-5 is doable.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates)
The good news: Pogačar’s Brad Pitt-in-Thelma-and-Louise Tour breakout continues to roll along, and on Friday we got yet more confirmation that he’s pro cycling’s blockbuster star of the very near future. Pogačar’s big attack on Puy Mary dropped everyone except Roglič, and the Slovenian duo played off of each other’s speed to drop everyone on the final push to the line. Pogačar leapfrogged five riders on the day to slot into second place overall, just 44 seconds down. Had he not languished in the crosswinds on stage 7, Pogačar, in theory, would be winning the Tour de France. Pogačar may not win this year’s Tour de France. The ease at which he dropped Bernal, his closest contemporary in age, is a sign that the Slovenian ace may have the upper hand in the big Tour battles to come. Could he be the one to win multiple yellow jerseys, and not Bernal?
The bad news: Zero bad news. None.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis Solutions Crédits)
The good news: Alas, no good news for Guillaume Martin (or French fans) today.
The bad news: C’est Mauvais! The race’s only participant with a master’s degree received a D-minus on the test up Puy Mary! Martin was dropped on the Col de Neronne, and he just never caught back on. He finished 2:46 behind Roglič and slipped from third place overall to 12th, making him the biggest loser of the day. Bah, this one bums me out. Martin’s run at the podium was such a positive story to follow, so I’m sad to see him lose out before the race got to the Alps.
Riche Porte (Trek-Segafredo)
The good news: Porte just might be the third-best climber in the race. At the very least, Porte was the third-best climber (of the GC crew) on Friday, and he rode much of the final two kilometers of the climb within spittin’ distance of Roglič and Pogačar. He finished just 13 seconds behind the Slovenian duo and jumped up two spots on GC into 9th place overall. And guess what: The top-5 is less than a minute away. While Porte is unlikely to make the podium, the top-5 is now very doable for Porte. The positivity of such a situation cannot be underestimated, as Porte is likely to surrender his place as a GC rider after this season to become a worker bee for a younger star as he’s set to leave Trek-Segafredo.
The bad news: Porte lost valuable teammate Bauke Mollema to a crash on Friday. Mollema crashed and reportedly broke his wrist, and is now out of the race. This is a major setback for Porte, as Mollema was among the strongest superdomestiques in the bunch.
Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling)
The good news: Rigo! Rigo! Rigo! Urán’s awesome Tour de France continues, and on Friday he climbed his way into fourth place overall, leaping ahead two spots on GC. He’s now just 11 seconds off the podium. And Urán’s EF Pro Cycling teammate Dani Martínez won the stage, giving the pink squad a much-needed boost of positive vibes for the final push into the Alps. Another podium place at the Tour de France would cap off what’s already been a superb career for Urán.
The bad news: There’s no bad news for Rigoberto Urán. Venga!
Miguel Ángel López (Team Astana)
The good news: López rebounded from his dismal showing in the Pyrénées to finish as the fifth-best GC rider on the road. He even finished ahead of Bernal. This ride should equate to a boost of confidence for López after that bad ride up Marie-Blanque. He moved up three spots in the standings, and now sits in 6th place on GC, 1:31 down.
The bad news: López had a good day. No real bad news for him, other than he’s climbing out of the hole from Marie-Blanque.
Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale)
The good news: Like Martin, no good news for Romain Bardet today.
The bad news: Bardet’s run at the Tour de France podium ended on the climb up to the Col de Maronne, before the final push to Puy Mary. When Ineos Grenadiers went on the front, Bardet simply couldn’t hang, and he got dropped. He lost 2:33 to Roglič and slipped seven spots on GC to 11th place overall, 3:00 down. All of France shed a tear for Bardet.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren)
The good news: Landa again showed that he’s amongst the best climbers in the race. No, he couldn’t follow Pogačar’s explosive jump on Puy Mary, but he made a major push to finish alongside Porte, just behind the Slovenian duo. He was stronger than even Bernal on the big climb. Remember the #freelanda twitter campaign that was funny for five minutes a few years ago? Hey, Landa looks truly free on these climbs, and he’s now making a big push for the top-five. He moved up two spots and is now in 8th place on GC, just 45 seconds from fifth.
The bad news: Landa is very strong! But he’s not strong enough to win the Tour de France.