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The GC battle at the 2020 Tour de France took a huge turn on Sunday’s 15th stage as the steep slopes of the Grand Colombier bit into the legs of the yellow jersey contenders.
Eagn Bernal broke, Richie Porte looked punchy, but Primoz Roglič and Tadej Pogačar again proved the men to beat in the relentless mountains of the Jura Massif.
Sunday marked one heck of a GC shakeup, and the Tour has a completely new storyline to follow as it heads in the soaring Alpine climbs next week.
So, how did the rest of the GC favorites fare? Let’s break down the action:
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers)
The good news: Alas, there was no good news for Egan Bernal on Sunday.
The bad news: Egan Bernal’s ambitions to win the 2020 Tour de France crashed in spectacular fashion on the slopes of the Grand Colombier, and he entirely tumbled from the group of top contenders before the climb even got hard. The time gap on the day tells a bummer of a story. Bernal finished 7:22 down and tumbled from 3rd on GC to 13th on GC, 8:25 minutes in arrears. There’s no way for him to close that gap this year, and Bernal’s explosion marks one of the darker Tour de France moments in the 10-year dominance of Sky/Ineos at the race. The worst part of the scenario is that Bernal was dropped before the action really even started. Classics man Wout van Aert was pulling on the front at the base of the climb, with 13 kilometers to go. Suddenly, cameras caught images of Ineos Grenadiers riders abruptly pulling to the side of the road. And it was then that reality struck: Bernal had been dropped, a long way from the finish.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
The good news: Roglič finally torpedoed his biggest pre-Tour rival for good, and the HMS Bernal/Ineos has finally sunk to the bottom of the lake. Roglič and his Jumbo-Visma teammates again looked bulletproof in the mountains, and the yellow train pulled all the way up the Grand Colombier. He looked so strong, in fact, that he was finally treated to Tour de France rite of passage of being asked if he was doping! (“You can definitely trust me,” he said.) Roglič was second in the sprint to the line, with only countryman Tadej Pogačar able to beat him. He now has only one true rival for yellow in Pogačar, as the rest of the pack is more than 1:30 in arrears.
The bad news: Roglič isn’t out of the woods by any means, as Tadej Pogačar is strong, confident, and willing to attack. Pogačar gained some bonus seconds with his stage victory on Sunday and narrowed the gap to Roglič; Roglič’s advantage is now just 40 seconds to go. And, with three mountain stages still remaining, that’s a narrow margin that just isn’t safe.
Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic)
The good news: Like Bernal, not a ton of great news for Nairo Quintana today. The silver lining is that he didn’t completely explode like Bernal, but rather he just lost a ton of time.
The bad news: Quintana lost big time on Sunday, finishing in 18th place, 3:50 down. He started to slip off the back off of the peloton with 13km to go, and he was dislodged right about the time that Bernal went kapow. Unlike Bernal, Quintana mounted a comeback, and clawed back some time on the final push to the line. Still, he slipped from 5th place overall to 9th place, and he’s now 5:08 behind Roglič. His run at the Tour de France podium is toast, and Quintana really does seem to be either injured or really uncomfortable on the bike after a recent crash.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
The good news: Adam Yates’ impressive GC ride continues, and on Sunday he not only made it into the front group, he attacked! Yates was the only guy with the moxie to attack out of the main field as Jumbo-Visma stomped on the race’s neck up the Grand Colombier. For a moment, it looked like Yates might make the move stick before he was brought back. At the very least, Yates made Tom Dumoulin hurt. He finished in 8th place on the day, 15 seconds back. Yates bumped up two places on GC as is now in 5th place overall. If he moves up one position he’d tie his 4th place from 2016.
The bad news: Yates should have saved that attack for the final kilometer, because 4th place is only 18 seconds away. Had Yates marked Miguel Ángel López, he’d only be 8 seconds out of 4th.
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates)
The good news: Pogačar won his second stage of the 2020 Tour de France, took back 4 seconds from Primož Roglič, and solidified his place in second place overall in his debut Tour. Pogačar continued to be a beacon of hubris for all of the 21-year-olds out there who think you can jump into a new job or major project and surpass seasoned veterans off of talent, will, and luck. Bah, stop being so good, Tadej Pogačar!
The bad news: No bad news here, except that your annoying nephew will really ignore your life advice now.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis Solutions Crédits)
The good news: This is a tough one. Martin suffered a mechanical at the base of the Grand Colombier and had to drop out of the main field of contenders. He fought back to limit his losses, but he still slipped another 3:25 behind Roglič. The silver lining here is that Martin was strong enough to not lose more time, and he fought admirably to keep himself within sight of the top-10.
The bad news: Guillaume Martin continues his snakebitten second half of the Tour. After such a strong opening half, poor Martin just can’t buy an ounce of good luck. He’s gone from 3rd place overall to 11th, down 6:45, in a week. And 10th place is a full 1:30 ahead of him. The top-10 isn’t out of the question for Martin, but his luck really does need to turn around.
Riche Porte (Trek-Segafredo)
The good news: Great news! Richie Porte is perhaps the third-strongest rider in the Tour de France, as proven by his impressive ride on stage 15. Porte hung tough with the front group and then followed Pogačar and Roglič in the explosive finale. He finished third place, just 5 seconds back, and jumped up three spaces on GC into 6th place overall. He’s now only 39 seconds off of the podium. Scoring a podium would be a career high for Porte.
The bad news: No bad news today, other than Porte undoubtedly continues to curse those crosswinds from stage 7.
Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling)
The good news: Urán leapfrogged Bernal into third place in the overall standings, 1:34 behind Roglič. He lost 18 seconds in the final push to the overall, but the strong ride should be seen as a huge positive. Urán seems to be capable of following the hard tempo set by Jumbo-Visma in the high mountains, as he’s done it now in the Pyrenees and Massif Central. He just lacks a little bit of oomph in the final push to the line. The gap to 4th place is 11 seconds, so if Urán can keep fighting in the finales, he should be able to get back some seconds in the time trial.
The bad news: Urán’s fade in the final meters of Sunday’s stage could be a sign that his legs are melting in the mountains. Or, it could just be a sign that he lacks the explosiveness. I hope it’s the latter. Also, Urán lost valuable teammate Sergio Higuita today due to crashes. Higuita was a strong ally for the climbs.
Miguel Ángel López (Team Astana)
The good news: López has mounted an impressive comeback campaign after his disappointing ride up the Col de Marie-Blanque on stage 9. On that stage, López appeared to be more than a few watts slower than the top climbers in the race. Since then, López has been right there alongside the strongest riders. On Sunday he had his best ride of the race, finishing 4th on the day, just behind Porte. He leapfrogged two places in GC and now sits in 4th place overall, 1:45 down (and just 11 seconds from the podium). It’s been a remarkable comeback for López, who was a dark horse favorite for this Tour, due to the lack of flat TT miles. And, he seems to have more explosive accelerations in his legs than Urán, which could help him vault into third place overall before the individual time trial.
The bad news: No bad news today. MAL looked awesome.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren)
The good news: Landa continues to methodically claw back that 1:31 that he lost in the crosswinds way back on stage 7, which at this point feels like it was in 2012. He continued the slow chip chip chipping on Sunday by finishing 7th place on the road — alongside birthday boy Sepp Kuss — and his efforts leapfrogged him one more place in GC. He’s now in 7th place overall, 2:16 down. The podium, more importantly, is just 42 seconds away. Plus, he has teammates in Pello Bilbao and Damiano Caruso who are capable of riding in the high mountains. Among the riders lower than the top-two, Landa may have the strongest team.
The bad news: No bad news for Landa. Venga!