Distance grows again
The remaining quartet is now gaining ground again. In the peloton, of course, you still don’t see the need to catch the breakaways.
Politt lets it be
While Nils Politt puts his feet up, Mikkel Honoré defends himself. The Dane doesn’t want to give up. Three of his companions drive a few meters behind. The peloton has the boys in view.
Escape almost complete
In the main field, the sprinter teams keep the speed at least high enough that the fugitives have no chance of success. The quintet noticed that a long time ago. So the distance gets smaller and smaller. A merger is imminent.
So we look at the very end of the overall ranking. Caleb Ewan can be found there. After Enric Mas left, that means 139th place. The Australian is more than five and a half hours behind the yellow jersey. Incidentally, the last-placed team in the team classification is Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, trailing a whopping ten and a half hours.
The breakaway group’s lead is currently melting down to 40 seconds. The speed is just slowing down. Not much else is happening at the moment.
Almost 52 kilometers per hour
In the first hour of racing, the pros covered 51.8 kilometers. That puts us well ahead of the fastest average on the marching table, which aims to finish at 5:16 p.m.
Department of Gers
Incidentally, the stage today mainly leads in a north-northeast direction. The drivers are currently rolling through the Gers department. In the further course we will come to Tarn-et-Garonne. The destination is in the Lot department.
Far too little lead
Furthermore, the lead of the breakaways ranges between one and one and a half minutes. That doesn’t sound very promising. In the peloton you stay in control and will be able to bring the group back easily in these circumstances.
Philipsen is aiming for 2nd place
Certainly a professional cyclist has to think one step further in these times. Suppose one of the shirt holders is still out due to a positive corona test… There are certainly better triumphs than inheriting something in this way, but of course the rating has to be awarded. Jasper Philipsen is working to position himself just in case. In terms of the green jersey, which Wout Van Aert is sure to have, the Alpecin pro is still 13 points short of Tadej Pogačar, who is still second here.
The other points
Jasper Philipsen gets ten points from the peloton – in front of Wout Van Aert (9), Christopher Juul-Jensen (8), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (7), Christopher Hamilton (6), Philippe Gilbert (5), Mathieu Burgaudeau (4) , Nathan Van Hooydonck (3), Michael Storer (2) and Jonas Vingegaard (1).
Intermediate sprint in Auch
Now the escape group rolls through in the sprint classification in Auch. Quinn Simmons takes the 20 points and €1,500 for the Trek – Segafredo team treasury. Behind them are Nils Politt (17 points, 1,000 euros), Taco van der Hoorn (15, 500), Mikkel Honoré (13) and Matej Mohorič (11).
Four teams left
After today’s retirement by Enric Mas, there are now 37 professional cyclists who had to leave the race for various reasons. We still have four teams that all have eight men: Ineos Grenadiers, Groupama – FDJ, Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Materiaux and B&B Hostels – KTM. Only three drivers are left in the AG2R Citroën team.
After a few minutes the road is free again. The leading group rolls off. Now the peloton has to hold out for a moment until the original distance is restored. That was 1:20 minutes.
Because of a protest, the cyclists are blocked from continuing their journey. The race must be stopped. It is not clear what the activists are about.
The other outliers
Incidentally, the other three escapees are each taking part in the tour for the first time. Taco van der Hoorn can at least point to a stage win at the Giro d’Italia 2021. At 25, Mikkel Frølich Honoré is still missing major successes. Quinn Simmons (21) is even younger. The American recently won the mountain jersey at the Tour des Suisse.
The Green Wout
In addition to Vingegaard and Pogačar, who dominated the difficult stages, took five stage wins together and shared the general classification, Wout Van Aert was the third major protagonist of this Tour. The Belgian won two stages, rode yellow for four days, has had the green since day two and fought for it in an outstanding manner. His triumph in the sprint classification amounts to a historically large lead. 232 points is currently large. And as if that weren’t enough, the Olympic bronze medalist was also a regular helper for teammate Jonas Vingegaard. The 27-year-old shot the bird yesterday, proved to be the decisive figure in the difficult mountain stage – and that up to his sensational 3rd place at the end. Van Aert almost got into the textile of the best climber. This has only happened once in the history of the tour. Eddy Merckx achieved this feat in 1969. As a reward for this splendid achievement, the Belgian is now wearing the red starting number.
Distance is limited
The outliers don’t get that far away. A little over a minute – you wouldn’t begrudge the quintet much more. In the peloton, a constant high speed is ensured, you keep everything under control.
Of course, Matej Mohorič should also be mentioned. The Slovenian already has two stages under his belt – both won as a soloist on last year’s tour. And this season, the 27-year-old won Milan – San Remo. Mohorič has also had a day’s success at the Giro and Vuelta.
The outliers are now building up a credit of a good minute. And there are a few strong guys – predestined for such a ride. That would of course be Nils Politt. The German champions already won a tour stage from a breakaway group last year and was already successful on the Germany tour – also in the overall classification. This year, the man from Bora won – Hansgrohe Rund um Köln.
No threat to the overall classification
By the way, Nils Politt is the best in the overall standings – more than three hours behind. In this respect, there is nothing wrong with letting the group do as it pleases.
Obviously everyone got used to the situation very early on. The five fugitives are allowed to drive first. Now the question arises, how far are they let off the leash. Are the sprint teams keeping the option open of being able to catch the quintet again?
For now, the lead of the outliers is increasing. That’s 40 seconds now. Other riders don’t follow suit at first, the peloton builds on a constant pace.
Jonas Vingegaard increased his cushion at the top of the overall standings yesterday to a comfortable three and a half minutes after the Dane had parried numerous attacks by his opponent Tadej Pogačar. As far as we can judge, nothing burns in the time trial on Saturday. Vingegaard just has to get back to Paris safe and sound. Incidentally, for all other decisions, the podium is already a foregone conclusion. Third in the group is Geraint Thomas, who has a good three-minute lead over fourth-placed David Gaudu and thus also seems to be on the safe side.
group of five
Meanwhile, five men are cycling in front. Nils Politt is one of them. At his side are Matej Mohorič, Quinn Simmons, Mikkel Honoré and Taco van der Hoorn.
After four kilometers of relaxed rolling, movement comes in for the first time. Three professionals try to gain land. Other drivers will certainly try to catch up.
Geschke still in mountain jersey
Simon Geschke had the mountain jersey very close in mind, would have been the first German winner. But yesterday’s terrific fight for the points failed at the Col d’Aubisque. The 36-year-old left the stage empty-handed, but initially remained virtually at the top of the mountain classification. Only on the very last climb did Jonas Vingegaard catch him by eight points. However, since the Dane drives in yellow, Geschke has the dubious honor of being able to wear the dotted jewel as a representative to Paris. In his disappointment, the Cofidis professional was not very enthusiastic yesterday and said he was “not in the mood for it at all”. It was “the worst” to have to continue wearing the jersey.
Tour director Christian Prudhomme now gives the go-ahead for the race, waving the yellow flag. At first there are no attacks.
We have to do without another driver today. Enric Mas from Movistar is no longer at the start. The Mallorcan was eleventh overall. A positive corona test was his undoing.
The field rolls
The peloton of the 139 remaining riders has just started moving. You roll leisurely through the streets of Castelnau-Magnoac. The small community in southern France is the first stop on the Grande Boucle.
Three more days
Most of the professional cyclists will certainly welcome the fact that after the hardships of the past 3,000 kilometers, there is not so much at stake. Nevertheless, enough work awaits the pedallers over the next three days. And of course everyone now wants to reach Paris and be celebrated by hundreds of thousands on the Champs-Élysées.
On the last days of the tour, we only get excitement from the fight for the day’s victories, everything else is practically decided. Jonas Vingegaard defended the yellow jersey yesterday with the stage success thanks to the excellent tactics and performance of his team Jumbo – Visma and will not let that go. In addition, no one can mathematically dispute the Dane’s mountain jersey. Wout Van Aert has already secured the green jersey since the day before yesterday. In the junior classification for the white jersey, Tadej Pogačar leads by almost 50 minutes (!). And in the team classification, Ineos Grenadiers is building on a cushion of well over half an hour. In addition to the stage victories, the only incentive left is the red start numbers, which are given out every day for the most aggressive driver.
Of course that would be something for the sprinters today, who could strike again like they did on Sunday. But how much energy do the remaining drivers from their teams still have after the exhausting days? There will definitely be another group that might even make it through. The intermediate classifications – the sprint after a good 38 kilometers in Auch and the two small mountain classifications in the last third of today’s route – are only interesting in terms of the cash prizes. The points don’t matter anymore.
Welcome to the 19th stage of the Tour de France! After almost three weeks of the Tour of France, the topographical difficulties are behind the drivers. From then on, the route to Paris is largely flat – this is also the case today on the 188.3 kilometers between Castelnau-Magnoac and Cahors. The sharp start should take place at around 1:10 p.m.