Tour de France: Romain Bardet down, Aleksandr Vlasov up in major GC shakeups in top-10
Six of the top-10 placings changed in the first of three climbing stages in the Pyrénées.
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Jonas Vingegaard is living up to his new Tour de France nickname as the “Iceman” as he cooly fended off a string of searing attacks from yellow jersey rival Tadej Pogačar in Tuesday’s 16th stage.
Pogačar attacked three times on the first major climb but was stifled by a superior Jumbo-Visma on the final climb.
“Tomorrow and the day after, there will be more chances than today to attack,” Pogačar said. “We will see how the legs feel. I will continue to fight and I hope that I gain some time, but I will always try.
“The tactics changed with Majka, he should do the pace right there. The chain broke, and anyway, Kuss was strong, and Vingegaard, too. They had Van Aert on the front so it didn’t make sense to attack on the final climb, but it will be interesting tomorrow and the next day.”
The Jumbo-Visma leader defended his 2:22 lead to the two-time Tour champion, but there were some significant shakeups among the top-10.
Six of the t0p-10 placings changed in the first of three climbing stages in the Pyrénées.
Romain Bardet (Team DSM) tumbled out of the top-5 while Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora Hansgrohe) clawed his way from 11th to eighth.
“I didn’t really have great legs today,” Bardet said. “When I tried to accelerate I really struggled. It was a hard day for me, there’s no other way to describe it. Losing time is quite disconcerting. I will try to rebound. Today just didn’t work out for me, and I was unable to push the pedals.”
Bardet lost the wheel on the first of two first-category climbs, and regained contact on the descent, only to lose contact for good on the Mur de Pérguère.
The Frenchman finished 36th at 9:30 back, and tumbled from fourth to ninth, now at 6:37 behind Vingegaard.
Nairo Quintana moves closer to podium
Profiting from his losses was Colombian veteran Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), who jumped up two spots from sixth to fourth at 4:15 back.
Geraint Thomas defended his third place podium spot at 2:43 and did not cede time on the stage. Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) retained his grip on seventh.
Ineos Grenadiers’ Adam Yates, however, slipped from fifth to sixth, with David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) leap-frogging from eighth to fifth. Tom Pidcock also suffered, dropping from ninth to 10th. Enric Mas (Movistar) fell out of the top-10, slipping from 10th to 11th.
The move into top-10 is a salve for Vlasov, who crashed early in this Tour and struggled through the Alps.
“I was 11th and I had nothing to lose. I can risk a bit and we decided to try to go into the break and take the risk, why not?” Vlasov said. “It was a good move. Van Aert was also in the break so it was a good situation for Jumbo-Visma. That’s why I went into the breakaway. I feel already much better, already I can move a bit.”
With Vingegaard and Pogačar looking strong at the top of the leaderboard, it’s likely the others in the top-10 will start trying to attack Thomas to see if they wrestle away the final podium spot in Paris.