After a quiet few days in the Tour de France’s GC battle, the yellow jersey contenders roared back into action on stage 13 Friday.
The constant climbing and heavy roads of the Massif Central dashed the prospects of French pair Guillaume Martin and Romain Bardet, and the super-steep summit finish on the Puy Mary saw Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar grab handfuls of seconds over their rivals. After Ineos Grenadiers did the pace-making through much of the final hours of the race, Egan Bernal couldn’t respond to the move from his Slovenian rivals, losing 38 seconds.
Meanwhile, up ahead of them, Daniel Martínez had taken a stunning stage victory, outfoxing a pair of Bora-Hansgrohe riders on the final climb to reward an aggressive day of racing by the team.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s roundtable!
Did Ineos Grenadiers get it wrong today, or did Bernal just not have the legs?
Fred Dreier (@freddrier): It looks like Bernal just didn’t have the legs on the steepest sections of the climb to follow Roglič. Credit Ineos Grenadiers with having the legs to do some damage on the front in the back half of the stage. But the squad just isn’t as strong as Jumbo-Visma, and Bernal really seems to be a few watts behind Roglič, especially on the steep stuff.
Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): I think it’s mostly the latter. Pogačar was isolated for a long time, but was able to surf the wheels of Ineos Grenadiers first, and Jumbo-Visma after that, and still punch clear with Roglič in the final. Jumbo-Visma turned the screw in the final 10 kilometers but you would expect Bernal would have been able to hide in the wheels and follow Roglič and Pogačar when they broke away from the group. Is this the glimmers of a crack? Let’s see.
Dan Cavallari (@browntiedan): Yes and yes. Now that we’re about halfway through the Tour, it seems clear to me that Ineos Grenadiers doesn’t have the firepower to support Bernal’s defense of his Tour title. Bernal didn’t have the legs today, likely because he’s not getting the support he needs throughout the race. Of course, we’ve seen Sky/Ineos come flying back at the last minute before, so I wouldn’t count them out just yet.
Should EF Pro Cycling go all-in for stages, or continue pushing in the GC for Urán?
Dan: Not yet, but I think if Urán loses time over the next two stages it’s time to hunt stages exclusively. Obviously, there’s plenty of talent on the team completely capable of animating stages, but with Urán about a minute down, GC contention will start creeping away over the weekend if Urán can’t hang with Roglič and Pogačar, particularly if Nairo Quintana continues to ride strong and Egan Bernal continues to fade.
Fred: Urán now sits in fourth place, just 11 seconds off the podium. If he continues his steady riding at the Tour he’s in a perfect place to ride into third place overall, should Bernal continue to falter. I think that EF’s Tour is now a rousing success after Dani Martínez’ stage win. But getting Rigo to land on the podium would be an enormous, year-affirming result for the pink team.
Jim: EF Pro Cycling showed today and in previous stages that they have the talent to go on the front foot and fight in the breakaways. With the high mountains to come, the likes of Higuita, Martínez, and Carthy will be in their element. However, while I don’t see Urán beating Bernal, Roglič, or Pogačar in a mano-a-mano battle, his team certainly doesn’t want to abandon him. All it takes is an unfortunate disaster to occur to one of the top three for him to move up to a podium slot. So, I say the go for a couple of select stages and continue to back Rigo. Best of both.
We saw a shuffle in the GC with Martin and Bardet now both well out of contention – how do you see things by Monday, after two further tough stages this weekend?
Jim: The current top three of Bernal, Roglič, and Pogačar will still hold the top slots, though not necessarily in that order. I think the main difference will be what happens in the group of Urán, Porte, Landa, Lopez, Yates, and Quintana, currently fourth to ninth place. If anyone’s going to make a big move in that bunch, I’d say one or more of Landa, Porte, and Lopez will claw back time on the rest.
Fred: Martin and Bardet are now out of the GC picture, but that means that Landa and Porte are now making a run at the top-5. The question is whether Bernal sticks around in the top-5, or if he falls out completely. On Monday I expect to see Roglič still in yellow with Pogačar in second, then a big gap back to Bernal, who could lose another minute. Meanwhile, I see Landa and Porte moving up from 8-9 into the 5-6 spot.
Dan: The French hopes for a podium seems to have been dashed yet again. Roglič and Pogačar seem to be on a different level than everyone else, so I expect those gaps to open up even more after the weekend is said and done. And never count out Nairo; he looks strong this year and has played it smart so far. It’s looking increasingly likely to me that Quintana has podium-worthy legs this year.