The attack: It looked like a big misunderstanding. Primoz Roglic slowed down a bit, but his helper Sepp Kuss continued to give full throttle. A gap tore open, Kiss looked back. But the only one who shifted fast enough was Miguel Ángel López. The Colombian caught up with a kiss, sat down and drove alone to the summit on the last kilometers of the brutal Col de la Loze. Shortly before the finish line, he looked around again, pedaled again and then clenched his fist. There it was, his first Tour stage win.
Superman flies: López is one of a group of strong professional cyclists from Colombia. But the 26-year-old is probably the only one who is called more often by his nickname than his birth name. Miguel Ángel López is namely “Superman”. How did he get there? There is the following story: 16-year-old López was training for a youth race when two thieves ambushed him to steal his bike. López struggled, a thief stabbed him in the leg with a knife, but the teenager escaped. Shortly afterwards, López started a race with his bike, which he personally defended, and attacked his competitors. The commentator is said to have said that López flies up the mountain “like Superman”. And there was the new nickname.
Stage result: Superman López flew again on Wednesday. The Astana professional won the 170-kilometer 17th stage from Grenoble to Méribel ahead of Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar. “This is a very special day for me,” said López, who is third in the overall standings. Read the stage report here.
Queen’s stage: It wasn’t just any stage, it was the stage to the top of the tour. After the 2000 meter high Col de la Madeleine, the drivers had to climb the Col de la Loze, a 2304 meter high monster from a mountain with gradients of up to 24 percent. The climb in the village of Méribel was part of the tour for the first time, but someone knew it very well. Tadej Pogacar took over the yellow jersey of the Tour de l’Avenir in 2018, a kind of Tour de France for juniors.
End of the dream? Roglic versus Pogacar – that’s the duel for the yellow jersey. But on the final ascent, the leader showed his only 21-year-old challenger the limits. Roglic escaped Pogacar with a powerful acceleration and extended his lead in the overall standings to 57 seconds. “I didn’t win, but I put seconds out of my toughest opponent,” said the captain of Jumbo-Visma“Everything is fine, I am satisfied.” But Pogacar did not give up. “It’s not over yet,” said the UAE professional.
Das Bergtrikot: Benoît Cosnefroy comes from a cycling family, his father and grandfather organized cycling races. At the age of 16, Benoît won a prize for the first time – the Prix Louis Cosnefroy, named after his great-great-grandfather. He would have been very proud if he had known that one of his descendants would one day call the Tour de France mountain jersey his own. That is what Benoît Cosnefroy carried on his shoulders for 15 days, no one has managed it longer in this millennium. Now the Frenchman had to hand over the dress to the new leader Pogacar.
Overrated: Won with a real show of strength Lennard Kämna on Tuesday his first tour stage. But that was apparently not enough for the 24-year-old. With an escape group, the German said goodbye to the peloton again on Wednesday. The goal: mountain points. “I squint at the mountain jersey”, Kämna had said before the stage. But nothing came of it, his legs were probably too tired after all. At the Col de la Madeleine, Kämna fell back again. Perhaps the last remnants of adrenaline from the day before had driven him to the top.
The keeper: There are athletes who achieve top performances year after year, but hardly attract any attention. The Spaniard Mikel Nieve from Team Mitchelton-Scott is one of them. In his career, the 36-year-old has achieved the goal of 18 Grand Tours in a row, always in the top 25. It was now time for his 19th Grand Tour. Mikel Nieve had to give up for the first time, the queen stage of the Tour of France was too much for him.
And tomorrow? More tasks could follow. It will be really difficult again. On the 175-kilometer route from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron there are a total of five mountain ratings, two of which are in the first and one in the hardest category. For Pogacar it could be the last chance to attack Roglic, because after the 18th stage there is only a slightly flatter day and an individual time trial before Paris. It is unlikely that Pogacar will catch up with the overall leader by a minute. Thursday seems like the last chance.