The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 14
1st – Omar Fraile (Astana Pro Team)
2nd – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
3rd – Jasper Stuyven (Trek- Segafredo)
The first half of the 188km Stage 14 was more or less flat, but after going up the Category 4 Cote de Grand Chatagnier, the peloton then headed upwards till the finish in Mende. The back end of the stage was like shark teeth, looking at the profile. A Category 2 Cote de la Croix de Berthel, the Category 3 Col du Pont sans Eau and some other rolling, tricky unclassified climbs, the riders then made a descent into the valley road before the finishing climb to Mende, The Cote de la Croix Neuve.
The final climb was 3km at 10%, including ramps at 18%. It topped out with 1.5km remaining in the stage, it was then a slight downhill run to the airport runway at Mende.
Yellow – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Green – Peter Sagan (Bora – hansgrohe)
Polka Dot – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
White – Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale)
After early crosswind drama, it all settled and the breakaway was released. Thomas De Gent and Sylvain Chavanel were the early attackers and their group became four, then seven, then eventually the final break swelled to 32 riders. The breakaway harboured big names including Sagan, Alaphilippe, Gilbert, Lampaert, Impey, Caruso and Van Avermaet. With Sky not interested in the stage win, the break was let out to over 10 minutes, at this point, the attacks started between the break.
Gorka Izagirre started the attacks 62kms from home. No real alarm bells were raised until he was joined by Jasper Stuyven and Tom- Jelte Slagter over the top of the Cat 2 climb. With the chasing left solely to Quickstep, the gap balloned out to over a minute. Slagter became deadweight in the front trio, as a result Izagirre started playing games and let the wheel of Stuyven go, a decision that will haunt his dreams this evening. The Trek rider pushed on solo and he got out to a 1.50min advantage and arrived at the bottom of the final climb with 1.40min up his sleeve to the remainder of the break away.
De Gent started the attacks but faded early with Omar Fraile going straight over the top of him never to be seen again. He caught Stuyven with 2km to go and pushed on solo. Julian Alaphilippe "played the waiting game" (Sean Kelly voice) and left his attack too late catching Stuyven at the top of the climb with only 1.4km to go. It was all too late with Fraile taking his biggest win to date by 6 seconds to the French- Belgian duo.
In the GC fight, 18 minutes back, Roglic lead home the favourites with Romain Bardet loosing 14 seconds, the only thing to write home about.
The Next Stage
181km from Millau to Carcassonne. A stage that not unlike today to Mende, looks that it will favour those who roll the dice in the breakaway. In terms of climbing there is a Cat 3 early doors, a Cat 2 midway through the stage and a Cat 1 (12.3km @6%) that tops out 41.5km from the finish. The Cat 1 will act as the launching pad for those looking to put their keys in the bowl for the stage win.
A breakaway win is a likely result here. Plenty of teams have yet to yield any fruit from this Tour so expect to see another large break go clear. Like mentioned above, the action will come on the final climb of the day and the descent into the 20km valley that the riders will need to navigate on their way to Carcassonne. A. Yates, De Gent, Majka, and Fraile are all a good chance for the win, but the tip here is Warren Barguil. He will be hunting the KOM points but that will be a by-product of stage success. Not only is Barguil a super climber but he can go downhill with the best. A potential weapon of destruction, if he needed.
See you back at the social club,