But what kind of shape is Pinot in? He said ‘it hurts everywhere’ after his stage one crash. Personally, I think he will lick his wounds for a while longer, and look to make inroads in weeks two and three.
19km to go: It looks as if Ineos, and the rest of them, may have accepted that they are not going to bring the break back. So the stage winner should be one of the front five riders: Roche, Van Avermaet, Herrada, Lutsenko and Powless.
It’s Powless’s 24th birthday, if you missed that little fact earlier. What a birthday present this would be for the EF Pro Cycling man.
20km to go: Herrada managed to bridge across to the front group so now we have five up there. The gap is back up to 3’00”. Fabio Aru attacks off the front of the main group, riding away from the Ineos riders at the front.
22km to go: This, from Richard Hirst re: Horner’s tweet about Ineos, is spot on.
“He said down three riders, not down to three riders. Very different.”
Now, we are on the final climb. The break is about 9km from the summit. They have less than three minutes, the gap is down to 2’43”. Powless, Lutsenko, Roche and Van Avermaet have gone off the front together so we have four riders in front.
24km to go: Breakaway rider Nico Roche of Team Sunweb is still 14 points behind Benoît Cosnefroy in the KOM standings. So even if he takes maximum KOM points on the final climb, he still can’t take the jersey today. Bennett in green and Roche in polka-dots would no doubt have seen dancing in the streets of Dublin tonight. Still, maybe it will happen soon … The gap is 2’41”.
25km to go: It’s not true to say Ineos are down to three riders, actually. Five if not six are still up there and putting the rest of the peloton under pressure.
26km to go: Chris Horner – the winner of the 2013 Vuelta – isn’t impressed with Ineos right now. We shall see …
The gap is down to 2’48”.
28km to go: Don’t forget, in addition to stage win glory at the end, there are also bonus seconds on offer atop the final climb: eight, five and two bonus seconds available for the first three riders across the line at the summit of the Col de la Lusette, after which, we still have nearly 14km of racing to go.
Andrey Amador of Team Ineos has dropped back after a big effort to up the pace on that climb. Up ahead, Roche takes the two points again at the second categorised climb of the day.
29km to go: We now have three groups on the road, with loads of riders having been dropped by that big acceleration by Team Ineos, Jumbo-Visma et al. So there’s a gruppetto, a peloton and an eight-man break.
30km to go: Six Ineos riders are stretched out at the front of the peloton as they attack the second climb of the day. The gap has held steady at 3’22” for the past couple of minutes, but soon, Van Avermaet will no longer be our virtual GC leader …
32km to go: The pace has gone up considerably at the front of the peloton, with Team Ineos massed at the front. The gap between peloton and break is down to 3’22”. The breakaway is on the second climb of the day, the Col des Mourèzes, which is 6.1km long with an average gradient of 4.8%.
“Team Ineos want this to be a hard stage, it’s an interesting play by them,” says Millar on ITV.
As stated earlier, Bernal has looked happier and more relaxed today than at any point so far in this race. There was clearly some anxiety about the back injury that he carried into the Tour, but perhaps now he is feeling pain-free, in good form and in position to attack. Roglic v Bernal on the final climb?
32km to go: Roland Marshall, on email, has had an idea!
“Hi there Luke, The vague similarity of bidon chucking with firing of tortoise shells makes me think back to a mis-spent youth playing mario karts tanked up after coming home from the pub. Perhaps they could incorporate bidon-chucking à la Mario Karts shell-firing in order to spice up dull stages like yesterday’s (apart from that end bit…)?”
33km to go: Thanks to Paddy Delaney for the heads up on this tweet from Bennett, last night:
So if you held a gun to his head and asked – ‘stage win or green jersey in Paris?’ – you reckon he’d say stage win? You are probably right.
41km to go: Jumbo-Visma take control of proceedings on the climb. Mitchelton-Scott are right there too. The gap between peloton and break is now 4’15” and rather more manageable – the difference in speed on the climb is immediately noticeable, and it’s looking more likely that we see a battle royale among the GC guys on that final climb.
44km to go: Roche takes the two points on offer atop the Cap de Coste, Van Avermaet follows him across the line, and takes a single KOM point.
45km to go: Now, the eight-man break is on the first climb of the day, the Cap de Coste. Nico Roche looks keen – he can go fourth in the KOM classification – and as Kennaugh points out on ITV, he is presumably in the market for taking the points on offer atop the category-one climb later on.
45km to go: Some Lance-trivia from Daniel Friebe on Twitter:
49km to go: Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett has extended his green-jersey lead slightly. He took six points at today’s intermediate sprint, and now has 129 points overall. Sagan, in second has 117 points, with Norwegian Alexander Kristoff in third, on 93.
As Bennett said, it is tough to go for the green jersey and for stage wins, especially if they’ve got Alaphilippe gunning for GC too. I wonder where, on his list of priorities, he puts the overall green jersey battle vs. a stage win?
54km to go: This is a very fair point from the Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White via Orla Chennaoui on Twitter, which occurred to me last night. Yates may say he didn’t want to take the jersey via a time penalty, but he and the team have worked hard to put themselves in the position to do so. Alaphilippe accepted his punishment, and Yates is surely a very worthy maillot jaune, even if he didn’t take the jersey on the road.
Meanwhile, the gap between peloton and break is 5’46”. The sun is out and the wind does not seem to be a factor. Is there the time, and the motivation from the peloton to bring this breakaway back? Either way, we are going to see the GC favourites duking it out on those climbs, even if the stage win is not up for grabs.
59km to go: Dayer Quintana, of Arkea-Samsic, hits a stray discarded bidon which was rolling in the road and goes down. Quintana was looking back over his left shoulder, back down the road, and hence missed the bottle which was in front of him. He looks OK though and is back on the bike.
Shouldn’t bidon-chucking be punishable with a time penalty, if taking one inside the final 20km is worthy? It can clearly endanger other riders in the peloton. There was an example in Milan-Sanremo recently, I believe, when the eventual race winner chucked a bidon on the final descent, which might have caused a problem for someone chasing him down the hill.
61km to go: The Irishman Sam Bennett, resplendent in his green jersey, wins the ‘Best of the rest’ sprint at the intermediate. Peter Sagan is there or thereabouts – but can’t keep pace with Bennett or a few other rivals.
“It looks like that was a full sprint by Sagan, but he was still only fourth or fifth,” says David Millar on commentary.
62km to go: As the peloton nears the intermediate sprint point, the pace has slackened off noticeably, with the gap to the break stretching slightly to 5’42”.
65km to go: The break reaches the intermediate sprint. Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling) and Oss (Bora-Hangrohe) are the two riders to compete for it, and Boasson Hagen wins it fairly easily. Van Avermaet showed a vague interest, and took third place, with the other five escapees riding tempo behind them.
Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal), meanwhile, has attacked off the front of the peloton, with seven points up for grabs at the intermediate sprint, which he will reach in three or four minutes. “Maybe he just fancies a stretch of the legs,” says Ned Boulting on ITV, because there is no obvious reason why Kluge would want those intermediate sprint points.
71km to go: The New Zealander Sam Bewley, riding the first Tour de France of his career, is continuing to get through plenty of work at the front of the peloton. His compatriot Jack Bauer is working hard too, along with Chris Juul-Jensen. The peloton is strung out, with Team Ineos still right behind Mitchelton-Scott. There is no let-up in the pace, that’s for sure. The gap is down to 5’36”.
77km to go: The intermediate sprint is coming up in about 12km.
84km to go: The gap is hovering at around six minutes. It’s going to be tough, at this rate, for the peloton to bring the breakaway back. But Mitchelton-Scott will of course be aiming to narrow the gap sufficiently for Adam Yates to stay in yellow. Will Van Avermaet, the best-placed rider on GC in the breakaway, be harbouring ambitions of wearing yellow this evening?
Vincent Clay tweets in:
95km to go: Speaking on ITV, Peter Kennaugh thinks the breakaway is perfectly balanced to stay away, with the powerhouses like Oss and Cavagna for the flat, and handy climbers like Roche who will come to the fore when the road kicks up. The gap is 6’28”.
100km to go: Happier times for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, before those pesky commissaires spotted the bidon infringement last night.
Alaphilippe is clearly in flying form, though. Do you think he’ll get back into yellow during this race? Do you think he stands any chance of winning the whole thing?
The gap is 6’36”.
105km to go: The gap between peloton and eight-man breakaway is 6’27”.
John O’Gorman emails: “I was under the impression that Roche, Powless, Boasson Hagen, Oss, Cavagna, Van Avermaet, Herrada and Lutsenko were the runners-up in the Nobel Physics prize from 1961 to 1968. Unfortunately, as Churchill said, history is written by the victors so there is no way of confirming whether I am correct or not.”
110km to go: Breakaway rider Boasson Hagen, now with NTT Pro Cycling, has won three stages of the Tour de France in his career – including two for Team Sky during the 2011 Tour. His victory on stage six in 2011 was the first ever stage win for a British-registered team at the race.
“He has massive ability, massive talent,” Brailsford told William Fotheringham at the time. “He is so tenacious, he just never gives up. But that is what road racing is all about. You keep knocking on the door, you keep on trying and eventually you get it.”
The gap, right now, is 6’19”.
116km to go: A reminder of the eight-man breakaway: Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb), Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling), Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team). The gap is 6’11”.
Powless turns 24 today, by the way. So anyone who put a fiver on him to win today’s stage, purely on that basis, has an exciting few hours in store …
117km to go: Read some reaction to yesterday’s drama from Adam Yates, the new race leader, and Julian Alaphilippe, who lost the jersey but took his punishment with equanimity: