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The British rider from the Isle of Mann not only took his 34th career Tour stage win, he managed to stay off the ground for yet another stage — a feat which his teammate Tim Declercq could not manage on the stage.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step patrolled the front of the race, never letting a break get too far up the road. Nerves seemed to be what they were in the first three days of the 2021 Tour, and a series of crashes claimed Simon Yates, as well as Declercq, a key rider in the Wolfpack lead out. Declercq eventually rode a solo 60km time trial in order to make the time cut.
Here’s what the stars said after stage 13 of the 2021 Tour de France.
Jasper Philipsen (Fenix-Alpecin): 3rd, at :00
Other than Cavendish’s leadout man — Michael Mørkøv — no other rider has been so close to the “Manx Missile” so many times in the 2021 Tour as has been Jasper Philipsen.
In the early stages of the 2021 Tour, the Alpecin-Fenix trio of Philipsen, Tim Merlier, and Mathieu van der Poel looked to be a threat. But with the abandonment of van der Poel to prepare for the Olympics, and Merlier when he was dropped on stage 9, Philipsen has been left to freelance his podium placing.
“I don’t know what I need to do to beat Cavendish. I have been beaten by stronger, period. I thought I had the legs today but I was not,” Philipsen said. “I have to keep trying and I will but a fifth podium without winning, it’s frustrating. What Cavendish does is unbelievable. To be honest I never thought I would have had to sprint against him on the Tour.”
Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe): 25th, at :00
Wilco Kelderman is the German squad’s GC hopeful. Like other GC contenders, the second consecutive “sprinters’ stage” was another chance for him to recover from Alpine climbing and prepare to take on the Pyrénées. And like the other GC riders, he, too, had to navigate the race-shattering crosswinds, crashes, and, heat.
“It was a long and hard day, not a nice one, which, in the end, it came down to a bunch sprint. There was some nervousness in the finale but we were well-positioned in the front, so there weren’t any problems,” said Kelderman “I felt horrible, it was too hot. It wasn’t a good day for me, I don’t feel well in the heat but that’s what it is. Anyway, this day is over, now on to the next one.”
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates): 26th, at :00
Pogačar held onto his commanding lead in the race’s GC. With more than five minutes between him and the next two riders on the GC, the 22-year-old Slovenian is in defend-the-jersey mode, and not giving his rivals much intel to go on. When asked about Cav’s win, he was quietly congratulatory.
“I felt good on the day,” he said. “I watched him as a kid, sprinting like Rocketman, all respect to him.”
Quentin Pacher (B&B Hotels): 119th, at 4:49
Quentin Pacher was nearly the spoiler for Cavendish when the Frenchman attempted a solo raid some 15km to go, just after the previous break had been brought under control. Seizing the opportunity afforded him when the peloton momentarily eased up, he attacked and got nearly a minute up the road before the sprinters’ teams and GC teams reined him in.
“The goal was not to go alone but I found myself in front,” Pacher said. “We are in the Tour de France, we do not ask questions.”
When asked about how he thinks he’ll recover for stage 14, which presents some climbing, Pacher was optimistic.
“I think I will have fully recovered tomorrow (Saturday),” he said. “I know by heart the next stage — it will be necessary to be strong on the flat at the beginning when the breakaway will leave without doubt. Physically, I don’t really know where I am, I am feeling a little ragged.”
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis): 39th, at :00
Guillaume Martin, a natural climber, was not aggressive on the stage. Happy for another relatively flat stage to sit in, and recover from the double assault on Mont Ventoux, as well as prepare for a weekend of climbing in the Pyrénées, the cyclist-philosopher was circumspect about his position on the GC, and his team responsibilities for the coming stages.
“A lot of teams were afraid of the wind, we felt the latent tension. It was necessary to be vigilant. But, ultimately, a carefree day,” Marin said. “For my part, I felt rather good. It is encouraging for the weekend. Tomorrow (Saturday), we have a stage that can suit us, no doubt. Not for me but for my teammates. Sunday will be mine.”