Remarkable victory Ineos, Primoz Roglic retains yellow

Primoz Roglic‘s yellow has not been endangered for a moment in the last Alpine journey either. In the 175 kilometre journey from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron, Ineos was finally able to cheer again. With Michal Kwiatkowski as the winner of the stage in a separate slot with teammate Richard Carapaz.

Just before the happy couple crossed the line, a spectator was rushed off the road by the organisation. The man had jumped over the fences. Moments later the two of Ineos crossed the line with a smile on their faces.

Prior to the 18th Tour stage of 2020 the classification men had the knowledge that they could attack Roglic’s yellow jersey twice more. Thursday, during the last Alpine stage, or Saturday during the individual time trial over 36 kilometres with finish uphill.

Leading group & special finish

The first group that escaped from the peloton consisted of no less than 32 riders, with Carapaz as the best classified driver (13th). At the Cormet de Roselend (1st category), the first of five cols, the group soon fell apart. In the end it was Carapaz and Marc Hirshi who escaped the rest. Then Pello Bilbao, Kwiatkowski and Nicolas Edet joined the duo.

Edet went through first and Hirshi, winner of the 12th stage, slid down in a descent and also had to make a pass in place. Three riders, two of them from Ineos Grenadiers (Carapaz and Kwiatkowski) and one from Bahrain-McLaren (Bilbao) remained. Bilbao let himself down a little later, to lend a hand to his approaching leader.

The failed Tour de France for Ineos, with the loss of leader and reigning champion Egan Bernal, still got a bit of colour thanks to Carapaz and Kwiatkowski. However, it became a separate end of the stage. Together they rode towards the finish line, gave each other an encouraging pat on the back and with a smile from ear to ear they rode ‘together’ over the finish line. In the end Kwiatkowski crossed the line just a little earlier than his team mate.

“I have had many great moments in cycling. This was a new experience”, said the Pole. “I can’t describe how grateful I am to Richard. It is an incredible day for our team. I will never forget this. We have ridden together for so long. At one point we knew we would make it. We really enjoyed the last few kilometres. It was a collective achievement of the team. A reward for the hard work over the last few days,” says Kwiatkowski, who saw his team leader Egan Bernal leave the Tour the day before. “I hope Egan enjoyed it on television. He was very sad when we said goodbye to him on Wednesday, but wished us good luck. We are going to celebrate this success”

Battle for yellow

The Montée du Plateau des Glières. The highlight of the day, a climb from the ‘hors’ category. That‘s where the differences between the classification riders were made. Mikel Landa (7th in the general classification at 3:27) was the first rider from the peloton to dare to break away. The leader of Bahrain-McLaren went full on the pedals, because after Wednesday’s blunder – his team dictated the previous stage, but without result – the Spaniard had something to make up for.

By the way, the Jumbo-Visma train did not react to Landa’s demarrage. That turned out to be unnecessary as Landa was swallowed up by Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Roglic, among others, just before the summit. Adam Yates, Rigoberto Úran and Alejandro Valverde, however, had to unload.

What followed was a special descent, on gravel. A leak on a sharp stone was lurking. In fact, that happened to Richie Porte. Roglic, on the other hand, felt like a fish in the water on the French gravel and increased the pace. What remained: Roglic, Pogacar, Miguel Ángel López (Astana), Landa, Enric Mas (Movistar) and later again Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma).

In the meantime Porte, together with Tom Dumoulin, had rejoined the ranking men. A heavy climb was no longer on the programme, but it was certainly not flat and the pace was high in the Alps. The classification men did not hurt each other in the battle for the yellow.

Click here to see the results, the stage schedule and the positions in various classifications in the Tour de France.