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Tour de France

Roglič tightens grip on Tour de France

Ineos can’t crack Jumbo-Visma as Roglič establishes himself as strongest in race.

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No one can say Primož Roglič‘s lead on the yellow jersey at the Tour de France is built on time bonuses anymore.

The Slovenian spinned his legs like pistons Friday up the brutally steep final two kilometers of Puy Mary to widen his lead to 44 seconds and tighten his grip on the yellow jersey.


The seconds were won on the road, not with a bike throw to the line.

“It was a hard day and a hard climb,” said Roglič after doubling his GC lead. “I saw from the beginning right up where you need to go.”

Coming into Friday’s 13th stage, Roglič’s 21-second lead to Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) was built entirely on finish-line and mid-stage time bonuses.

All that changed in a painfully steep 2km ramp up the side of a dormant volcano that upended yellow jersey dreams for more than a few riders.

The image of defending Tour champion Bernal collapsing onto his handlebars at the top of the sharp climb, ceding 38 seconds and dipping to third overall, confirmed Roglič’s stoic superiority.

“You suffer on those 2 kilometers,” Roglič said. “I was really happy to go with the best one to the finish and make some gaps.”

Bernal slipped from second to third, now 59 seconds back. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Emirates) attacked again and though he couldn’t drop Roglič, his efforts were paid back by moving up to second, now 44 seconds to Roglič.

Romain Bardet lost seven places Friday, his GC over.
Romain Bardet lost seven places Friday, his GC over. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The short climb shook the Tour’s GC tree. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who started third and fourth, respectively, both tumbled out of the top-10.

With the Tour nearing the end of its second week, Roglič is confirming his spot at the top of the Tour hierarchy. Behind compatriot Pogačar, there are four Colombians now stacked up on GC at nearly a minute behind or more.

Jumbo-Visma stared down its most direct threat from Ineos Grenadiers so far in this Tour during the up-and-down, seven-climb stage across the volcanoes of the Massif Central.

Ineos Grenadiers put riders on the front going into the closing 30km, perhaps hoping to soften up Roglič on the upper reaches of the Puy Mary.

Jumbo-Visma refused to buckle, sending Tom Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss at the front to quickly shed Bernal of any helpers before Roglič revved up his final punch.

Jumbo Visma dominates

“This is a good day for us,” Dumoulin said at the line. “Ineos is here to try to win the Tour, so they have to try something.

“In the end, Primoz and us as a team turned out to be stronger,” Dumoulin told Dutch TV. Dumoulin, whose own GC ambitions faded in the Pyrénées, swarmed a surge from Ineos Grenadiers’ Richard Carapaz before Kuss took the final pulls to spring Roglič.

Dumoulin thinks Ineos Grenadiers went so hard they might have blown up their own team.

“I think Carapaz wanted to continue the pace, but [Michał] Kwiatkowski and [Jonathan] Castroviejo had already made it so hard for him that he could not do much anymore,” he said.

The payback is especially sweet for Dumoulin, who finished second in the 2018 Tour behind Geraint Thomas and ahead of third-place Chris Froome.

“Primoz said he was good and wanted to try something in the last kilometer,” Dumoulin said. “Normally I’m the last man, but Sepp was slightly better today. We turned that around today.”

With Roglič now in the driver’s seat going into Sunday’s battle on the Grand Colombier, the others will start squabbling over the places of honor behind him.

Will he attack even more?

“We will see,” Roglič said. “It is still quite a long way to go, and it’s just stage 13. Every day is closer and closer to the end. We just have to see what we can do and manage the best with the team. I think we will still be exciting racing to come.”

Tadej Pogacar.
Tadej Pogačar now sits in second overall, 44 seconds behind countryman Primož Roglič. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Roglič finds himself in an ideal position heading into the Tour’s final week.

Pogačar emerges as a new threat, but a hobbled UAE-Team Emirates is racing without Davide Formolo or Fabio Aru, who’ve abandoned with injuries. Ineos Grenadiers now has a fight on its hands to keep Bernal where he is. The clutch of Colombians will start squabbling for the podium.

And with the final time trial waiting in the Vosges to his advantage, Roglic is firmly in control of his destiny.

“The Tour is not finished,” Roglič said. “I think a lot of different scenarios and riders to be there. I don’t want to bother myself with the names or who is better. I just need to focus myself and try to do my best, and we are then happy with whatever place we can do.”

Jumbo-Visma came into the Tour intent on victory. Nearly two weeks out of Nice, and Roglič is clearly the strongest rider in the race.