“Be careful, the Colombians have not said their last word. “ Failing to have been able to follow the best in the ascent of the terrible pass of Loze, Wednesday, September 16, Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) will be able to take the winner’s gain in the forecasts. Because it is indeed a beetle (“Beetle”), nickname of climbers of the Andes, who crossed the finish line first, at 2,304 meters above sea level. Behind Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), the 17e stage of the Tour de France has, as expected, delivered lessons that could be definitive.
The main one: in 2020, the Tour speaks Slovenian, and its boss is called Primoz Roglic. If “Superman” is the nickname of the Colombian winner of the day, the irremovable leader of the Jumbo-Visma has sat down – definitely? – its hold on the general classification. And more than reinforced his yellow jersey, four days before the arrival on the Champs-Elysées.
Second on the stage, he took advantage of the steep slopes and incessant changes in percentage of the last ascent to outrun his shadow, his compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Emirates), who yields 15 seconds to his elder – and finds himself at 57 seconds overall, in the bonus game.
Pogacar pays for the weakness of his team
Unable to catch Roglic, making the elastic with the yellow jersey in the important percentages (beyond 20%) of the Loze pass, the young Slovenian has ” made of [son] better on these very hard slopes ”. But he partly pays for the weakness of his team when the road rises, even if in this “Arrival of pure climbers, where no one can hide behind a teammate”, as Thibaut Pinot turned it, the fate of the Tour was also regulated with the pedal. Up there on the mountain, no one is waiting for you, and yet Primoz Roglic took advantage of the help of Sepp Kuss, his last teammate, to unleash his attack.
“I told him to go if he could, explained the yellow jersey at the end of the stage. Because the others would have to chase him away, and that allowed me to see that they were also in difficulty. His attack gave me the signal to produce my effort. ” At 2 km from the finish, only Miguel Angel Lopez responded to the American’s acceleration, and the yellow jersey took advantage of it to grab precious seconds.
They were only a handful of survivors trying to catch their breath in the last kilometers of this old forest path, which crunches the lines of zigzag drop to the peaks, paved a little over a year ago. . One by one, the candidates for the general classification dropped, rosary beads on the heights of Méribel. But for once, their executioner was not the Dutch team.
For once, the Jumbo-Visma did not roll
Jumbo-Visma did not take the race on its own from the first ascent, the formidable Col de la Madeleine. On Wednesday, the team, whose iron glove has marked the rhythm of the race since the start from Nice, decided to give up. As Julien Jurdie anticipated on Monday: “The Jumbo is going to run a little differently, because they are going to be fed up with showing up at the finish line with Pogacar in the rack ready to pounce on the bonuses,” warned the sporting director of AG2R La Mondiale. The steamroller may be softer at times this week, so others have to work. “
It was the Bahrain-McLaren – of Mikel Landa, seventh at the start of the stage – which got its hands on the mess from the start of the Col de la Madeleine. And their pace reminded that of the Jumbo Sunday, in the ascent of the Grand Colombier. “They imposed a big tempo from the foot of the Madeleine, it made a skimming, could only see Guillaume Martin (Cofidis). And in the final climb, it rolled faster and faster. “ Like many others, including Mikel Landa, the French could not follow the yellow jersey group, and finished more than three minutes from the winner.
“You feel like at home beyond 2000 m altitude”, Miguel Angel Lopez
One by one, the teammates of the favorites stalled, leaving the leaders to explain themselves on the vertiginous slopes of the Loze. In this game, once again, the Jumbo-Visma proved to be the strongest. Not having had to do the train, Sepp Kuss turned into a weight relay for the yellow jersey in the last kilometers. “In this very hard climb, every meter counts, and if we can have a little help, it’s better”, greeted Roglic on arrival.
A few hours after the announced retirement of Egan Bernal, the defending champion, failing in the Grand Colombier on Sunday, his teammate Richard Carapaz again distinguished himself at the head of the race. First Ecuadorian to compete in the Tour de France, the rider of the Ineos-Grenadiers formation has long resisted the return of the yellow jersey group for a long time, after having ejected from his wheel his companions of breakaway, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Gorka Izagirre (Astana).
An impressive burst of energy, but insufficient to raise the arms at the finish. Another rookie, Miguel Angel Lopez, did well. More aerial, the leader of Astana wins the stage, and climbs on the podium in place of Rigoberto Uran (Education First). “We knew this final ascent, we feel like at home beyond the 2000 m altitude”, smiled the Colombian after his victory, happy to have found a more unbridled race in the Alps, leaving more room for attacks.
If the Col de la Loze was not a firework display, the unprecedented arrival revealed, as expected, a new giant of the Alps. For the rest, the queen stage of the Tour de France 2020 has undoubtedly confirmed its winner.