The queen stage offered a sumptuous spectacle above Méribel. The Slovenian consolidated his yellow jersey there.
The 7 kilometers hanging above Méribel to reach the top of the Col de la Loze, the roof of this Tour (2,304 m), rose to expectations. The tarred ribbon stretched towards the clouds has, by its difference in level, its whims (some passages at 20%), its bends, its incessant breaks in the slope, its dizzy walls, offered a splendid field of expression for the candidates for the final victory. A test of strength and difficulties which scattered the riders, eliminated one by one the team members, posed the leaders in the face of their ambition and their limits. In this little game, even relieved of his bodyguards, Primoz Roglic comes out of the test reinforced. He took 15 seconds from his compatriot Tadej Pogacar, who did not have the wings to attack him: “I lost seconds, the slope was really very violent. “
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The young climber must camp in the shadow of the yellow jersey which ticks, relieved, another day, surely the most delicate episode to manage, on the road to the Champs-Élysées. The leader of the Jumbo-Visma formation will have to redouble his vigilance, concentration and effort, especially this Thursday during the last alpine stage (Méribel-La Roche-sur-Faucon; 175 km bristling with five climbs), then Saturday during the individual time trial (between Lure and the Planche des Belles Filles) but he successfully passed the Col de la Loze exam: “This hill cannot be compared to anything, I’m happy. may this difficulty be behind me. I don’t think it’s over. There are still tough steps ahead, but this makes one less. “
Encouraged on the road by his family from the Grand Colombier (15th stage), he relishes: “There were a lot of Slovenian flags throughout the day, like in recent days. It gives me something more. ”Second on the stage, he was beaten by Miguel Angel Lopez, nicknamed“ Superman ”, who won the most beautiful victory of his career. The Colombian took advantage of his coup to climb on the podium (he who finished 3rd in the Giro and 3rd in the Vuelta in 2018) and register as the fourth neophyte winner of a stage on this Tour (after the French Nans Peters, Swiss Marc Hirschi and German Lennard Kämna). A group shot forgotten since the 1996 Tour. Lopez, who regretted in recent days the infernal rhythm printed in the race not freeing up the slightest space of freedom, appreciated the final and underlined: “The race changed when it arrived in the Alps, I was hoping that this would evolve in the third week, that certain teams would prove to be weaker and that I would manage to place an attack… ”
The other winner of the day is the Loze pass, destined to become a popular meeting point for cycle tourists. And with which the Tour will take a subscription card. For the panorama, the breathtaking finale and the unpredictable scenario. Julian Alaphilippe, who led a long breakaway, before being caught up in the final climb, summed up: “I climbed difficult passes, but the last kilometers were terrible. I’m glad I took my time to assemble it… ”
“There had been a candidacy from Méribel for a very long time. I was reluctant because Méribel is a renowned and prestigious resort, but the climb is not extraordinarily hard. On the other hand, with the new climb of the Col de la Loze, we said yes right away, it’s simply extraordinary. There is this rare desire to share this pass with others, with the view, Mont-Blanc behind, a 360-degree view. We can see the Méribel of 1973 below where Bernard Thévenet, under the storm, had won in a Tour magnificently won by Luis Ocana. We are captivated. We are blown away by what we see, both what this new road is and the scenery. The desire to bring in the race is a desire to share. With this road, in this setting we are going to have a wonderful day, ”predicted Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour, before the start. Everything went like the blackboard. For the Col de la Loze and for the Yellow Jersey …