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The Bora-Hansgrohe team looked poised for what would have been its first stage win of this year’s Tour de France on Friday, with Lennard Kämna’s long stint in the break appearing set to pay off.
But having held an advantage of 38 seconds under the “red kite” with one kilometer to go, the German rider was dramatically overhauled just 100 meters from the line when Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) attacked and sped past him, race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) close behind.
It was the first of two big blows for the team, which also saw Aleksandr Vlasov’s goal of taking a podium finish in the general classification suffer a big setback.
“Well, this is a real pity, but there is nothing I could have done better,” Kämna, 25, said after ending up fourth, just ahead of 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers). “I gave it my all until the end and couldn’t have gone a single second faster.
“Max [Schachmann] pulled a lot for me as he didn’t have the best day and we decided quite early to go for me. The bunch didn’t allow us a big gap and therefore we attacked already early from that breakaway to try everything we can to gain time.
“It wasn’t enough in the end on that last 150 meters. But we entertained the fans I think, and I am proud how we presented ourselves as a team.”
- Aleksandr Vlasov relieved to overcome late crash as first Tour de France summit finish looms
- Tour de France stage 7: Tadej Pogačar storms to second win on Super Planches des Belles Filles
- The current overall standings in the Tour de France
Kämna won two years ago at Villard-de-Lans and may well try again during this Tour. Indeed the team may opt to put greater emphasis on hunting for stage wins after GC contender Vlasov finished back in 26th place, losing one minute 39 seconds on the final climb.
He had started the Tour with high hopes, having won both the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Tour de Romandie earlier this season, and having led the Tour de Suisse before having to withdraw due to COVID-19.
— BORA – hansgrohe (@BORAhansgrohe) July 8, 2022
The Russian had crashed on Thursday’s sixth stage but had initially expressed optimism after that.
“I felt good the whole day again and even after the crash I could push hard, so I am confident also about the next days. I have some cuts and scratches but it’s not too bad, I think.”
However, Friday put a different slant on things, with Vlasov saying that his mishap had actually had an effect.
“It was really hard for me today. I had a lot of muscle pain in my lower back and, especially in the second half of the race, I suffered a lot. When I lost contact to the GC group, I tried to find a rhythm to limit the time loss.”
He has slipped five places to 12th overall and is now two minutes 41 seconds behind Pogačar. It’s a considerable blow to his podium aspirations but he implies he will remain focused.
“Of course, this is disappointing, it was a bad day. But I hope to recover and then the Tour is still long.”
He’s correct in that regard; more than two weeks remain in the race, and much could yet still happen.