A brutal stage before the rest day

Before heading to a second rest day, which many riders really looked forward to, the Tour de France concluded its second week of racing on Sunday with a very hard stage towards the Grand Colombier. As expected, a lot of damage was done, including in the fight for the general classification. Primoz Roglic retained the yellow jersey but got outsprinted for the stage win by his fellow countryman Tadej Pogacar. Sébastien Reichenbach secured a solid 16th place at the top of the final climb.

With many teams still looking for a victory in the 2020 Tour de France, another fierce fight for the breakaway was expected at the start of stage 15 on Sunday. This is therefore what happened for more than 30 kilometers. The attacks came one after the other on a completely flat terrain and those interested in the last three climbs of the day were not really favoured by the first half of the course. The group that went away after less than an hour did not include real climbers, except for Pierre Rolland. “The plan was the same as the last few days, namely to take the breakaway but we didn’t succeed,” noted Yvon Madiot. “We then waited to see how it would unfold and we quickly realized that the leader’s team wanted the stage win. We had a little less regrets regarding the breakaway”. In front of the peloton, the Jumbo-Visma never let a too big gap create, even though no member of the breakaway was a threat for the overall. “They don’t leave anything, it’s a shame for the breakaway, we can be sorry about it, but that’s how it is”, said Swiss champion Sébastien Reichenbach. It’s racing, and it’s just part of the sport”.

“Seb did a good climb”, Yvon Madiot

Entering a terrifying second part of the stage, with the Montée de la Selle de Fromentel (11 km at 8%), the Col de la Biche (7km at 8.7%) and the Grand Colombier (18 km at 7%), the peloton was just four minutes behind the leading group. The tempo gradually picked up and at the top of the first ascent, there were only about fifty riders remaining in the yellow jersey group, including Sébastien Reichenbach, David Gaudu but also Thibaut Pinot. Although he never seemed in trouble in the first climb, the team’s leader happened to struggle in the following one, being forced to let the peloton go halfway from the top. “It’s always a bit the same thing,” said Yvon. “The pain goes away and returns. At the moment, it’s not great physically speaking, and we hope that the rest day will enable us to turn the situation around”. His two usual mountain lieutenants, however, held on in the Col de la Biche and stayed in the peloton until the bottom of the Grand Colombier, when Primoz Roglic’s teammates made the race even harder. David Gaudu was dropped after a few minutes and Sébastien Reichenbach had to let the yellow jersey group go with 10 kilometers remaining.

Nevertheless, the Swiss champion fought well to finish the stage with a good 16th position. “The riders also need to be reassured a little about their condition after a few difficult days”, said Yvon. “This kind of day can be good for morale. That’s why they pushed, and Seb actually did a good climb, he finished with Quintana. David did a decent climb and finished with Egan Bernal”. “It was a hard day,” added the young Frenchman. “Physically, I did not feel super great. I hung on the first climbs and took my one pace on the last climb. I paced myself but I finished seven minutes behind, so it’s not fantastic, but I still don’t have the best feelings. In front, they’re just going too fast for us, so there’s not much to do. We will try to recover tomorrow and then we will see in the third week”. “It’s going a little better for some, and I think that if we can take the breakaway with riders like Valentin, David, Seb or even Thibaut, it can be interesting”, concluded Yvon. “There will be two or three more opportunities in the last week and we will have to seize them”.