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Friday, July 7, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different. - Peter Drucker

Tour de France: 2020

Bill & Carol McGann's book The Story of the Tour de France, 2020: The Tour During Covid-19, Better Late Than Never is available in both Kindle eBook and Audiobook versions. To get your copy, just click on the Amazon link on the right.

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Tour de France stage six reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

Tadej Pogačar put in a brave ride to take stage 6 of the Tour de France at the summit arrival in Cauteret Cambasque.

After a less than perfect Wednesday, the Slovenian champion reacted in the best possible way, winning in a duel with his main rival Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) for winning his 10th stage in career at the Grand Boucle (first in 2023 edition).

Tadej Pogacar on the podium. He wears the white jersey of the Best Young Rider. Sirotti photo.

The stage (144,9 km), that included the climb of Col d’Aspin after 68 km and the Col du Tourmalet at -47 km to the arrival, was led in the key moments by Jumbo-Visma, which heavily selected the top riders group by setting a high pace thanks to the work by Wout Van Aert.

Pogačar pedalled closely to Vingegaard on Tourmalet, also when the Danish cyclist tried an attack, and he did the same on the final climb (16,2 km at 5,3%), where the Danish rider accelerated at -4,4 km to go.

With the duo leading the race (yellow jersey Jai Hindley was already dropped), Vingegaard could not take advantage on Pogačar, who controlled the rival and then, at -2,6 km, made a single winning acceleration: the Danish rider struggled and so UAE Team Emirates’ captain could pedal towards his success with 24” on his rival. Ninth place for Adam Yates (+2’39”).

Vingegaard is the new yellow jersey, Pogačar is 2nd at 25”.

Pogačar: “I feel a bit relieved and much better now that I won a stage and I took some time back in the general classification.

Yesterday I was a little bit worried, who wouldn’t have been? The display by Jonas yesterday was incredible and, when today he started pulling on the Tourmalet, I thought: ‘oh no, it’s gonna happen like yesterday’, we can pack our bags and go home’. But I managed to keep that pace and so the day turned in a good way.

"This is my tenth stage victory at the Tour, I am coming to for Mark Cavendish! No, I’m joking obviously , but I am so happy.

"Now the gap is almost closed, I feel it will be a big battle until the last stage.”

Stage 7 will give a rest to climbers: 169.9 km from Mont de Marsan to Bordeaux, with only one 4th category Kom.

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Here's the report from new GC leader Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Jonas Vingegaard has taken the lead in the general classification after the sixth stage of the Tour de France. After some fantastic work by Team Jumbo-Visma, Vingegaard finished second to Tadej Pogacar and took the yellow jersey from Jai Hindley.

Jonas Vingegaard in yellow with French president Emmanuel Macron. Sirotti photo

Thursday saw the second mountain stage in the French Pyrenees. The riders faced four categorised climbs, including the Col du Tourmalet. Like the day before, Wout van Aert attacked from the start. The Team Jumbo-Visma rider was invaluable to his team, assisting Vingegaard before and on the final climb, the Cauterets-Cambrasque. Before that, the rest of the team had guided the Danish leader up the challenging climbs all day.

Vingegaard and Pogacar fought a man-to-man battle with five kilometres to go. Ultimately, the Slovenian was the first to cross the line, and Vingegaard had to concede 24 seconds. "I wanted to win the stage, but Pogacar was very strong at the end of the last climb. Just like yesterday, we made the race hard. The goal was to test Pogacar early again. We did that on the Tourmalet, but we couldn't release him.”

Vingegaard gained over two minutes on race leader Hindley today, enough to start in the yellow jersey tomorrow. "I'm thrilled about it. It's a huge honour. The yellow jersey is the most iconic in cycling. I am where I want to be now, but the Tour de France is far from over”, he said.

"I thank the team for all their hard work. The team was great again today. It was fantastic to have Wout ahead of me in the final. Unfortunately, I could not win the stage, but I am happy with the yellow jersey”, the Dane concluded.

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Here's the stage six report from former GC leader Jai Hindley's Team Bora-hansgrohe:

With the famous Tourmalet and a mountaintop finish in Cauterets-Cambasque, the second stage in the Pyrenees was another hard test for the GC riders in the bunch. As Jai Hindley had the yellow jersey on his shoulders, BORA – hansgrohe took responsibility right from the start and when another big break went up the road, the German team pulled in full strength at the head of the bunch. Over the Col d’Aspin the situation seemed to be under control as the gap was stable at around 4 minutes, but on the Col de Tourmalet Jumbo-Visma took control and pushed the pace.

Jai Hindley in yellow on the final climb of stage six. Sirotti photo

First it looked like Jai could follow Vingegaard and Pogacar, but at about 4km to the top, he dropped back to the first chasing group while the two in front bridged across to the remainder of the leading group. After the downhill the gap between Vingegaard and Hindley was 2:30 and Emanuel Buchmann gave his all to keep the gap within striking distance. On the final climb of the day Pogacar dropped Vingegaard while Jai formed a chase group with Rodriguez and Simon Yates. In the end he finished in 6th place today, 2:39 behind Pogacar and dropped to third place overall.

From the finish line:
“It was just an epic day to ride in the yellow jersey and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to ride my own race. Of course, I tried to hang on to the two big guys, I did my best, but it wasn’t enough. Basically, that was it for the day when I lost contact on the Tourmalet. I mean everybody did a great job in supporting me and especially Emu gave his all in the final part, but the jersey was gone already on the Tourmalet. Anyway, also on the last climb my legs were quite good and I finished best of the rest let’s say. So, for now I think we are in good position and I will never forget this special day wearing that yellow jersey.”  – Jai Hindley

“Of course, we were committed to defending the jersey, but I think we did a little too much in the beginning. We could have waited a little and let the gap grow even more, but I know when you have the jersey and start riding, it is easy to get overexcited. But the boys did a good job and all of them tried their best to keep Jai in the jersey. Anyway, on the Tourmalet Jumbo went all in. Jai was there first but couldn’t hang on. After that it was important to have Emu at his side and he did a great job. In the end Jai lost the jersey, but we knew we are not here to fight for winning the Tour, for us it’s about getting on the podium, and I think also today we made another step towards this goal. It is still a long way to go, and we have to stay focused, but we are in a very good spot right now.” – Rolf Aldag, Sports Director

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And here's the Tour de france stage six report from David Gaudu's Team Groupama-FDJ:

The second and last Pyrenean stage of the 110th Tour de France led to another fight among the favorites, on Thursday, at the top of Cauterets-Cambasque. The general classification further evolved, Jonas Vingegaard took the lead, and David Gaudu fought hard to remain in the fight for the podium. Slightly distanced in the final of stage 6, the Frenchman took thirteenth place of the day, almost three minutes behind the two big favourites, but just thirty seconds from his main rivals. After the Pyrenees, he sits in seventh place overall before two stages for the sprinters/punchers.

David Gaudu on the day's final climb to the finish. Sirotti photo

On Thursday, the riders had a tough menu ahead to complete the first proper massif of the 2023 Tour. Nearly 4000 meters of elevation gain featured throughout the 145 kilometres of stage 6. More importantly, the peloton had to tackle a myth of the event: the Col du Tourmalet (17 km at 7.4%), climbed after the Col d’Aspin (12 km at 6.6%) but before the irregular, final ascent towards Cauterets-Cambasque (16 km at 5.3%).

On this terrifying day, the breakaway was formed from kilometre 0, in the wake of Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe. However, the gap remained rather small before starting the big climbs. “We wanted to have someone in front, but we didn’t succeed,” said Philippe Mauduit. “From there on, the guys were focused around David and tried to support him the best they could all day.” A first skimming occurred both in front and in the back on the Col d’Aspin, but the big moves only started on the col du Tourmalet.

Within the yellow jersey group, the pace gradually increased, before the Jumbo-Visma shattered what was left from the bunch three kilometres from the summit. Soon enough, Vingegaard and Pogacar broke away from the rest of the favorites, who regrouped behind. “We knew that Jumbo wanted to put the boot in”, said Thibaut Pinot. “We weren’t surprised by their move, but no one was really able to follow. The yellow jersey Jai Hindley tried but he exploded. They are going too fast for us, so we do our own race, for the podium”.

With more than fifty kilometres from the finish, the two big favourites of the race took off then joined the breakaway. In the meantime, a yellow jersey group of about fifteen men was established with the other GC contenders, including David Gaudu, who still had Thibaut Pinot alongside him at the top of the Tourmalet. In the following descent then in the valley, the group lost some more time and tackled the final climb three minutes behind the head of the race.

In the lead, Pogacar was able to get rid of Vingegaard and take the stage victory. Within the GC group, David Gaudu was forced to let go three rivals, but still reached the line in thirteenth position at Cauterets-Cambasque, more than three minutes from the winner, but thirty seconds from Jai Hindley, Simon Yates, and Carlos Rodriguez. “I felt rather good on the final climb, but I exploded suddenly, 2.5 kilometres from the summit”, said the climber. “That’s how it is. It was a very hard day. Unfortunately, it was not my best one, but the Tour is an endurance race. Sometimes you feel great, sometimes it’s more complicated. Anyway, it was important to still be there and limit the losses”. Still next to his leader until the final climb, Thibaut Pinot took twentieth place of the day, thirty seconds behind the man from Brittany.

In the general classification, David Gaudu moved up from tenth to seventh place on Thursday. He is 4’03 behind the new leader Jonas Vingegaard and about 2’30 away from third place, taken by Jai Hindley. “The positive part is that we are getting closer to the podium in terms of positions. On the other hand, we lost time on those who fight for it”, analysed Philippe. “But once again, the Tour is going to be long, hard and full of surprises”. A point of view shared by the whole team.

“If you turn the roadbook’s pages, you realize that we have done almost nothing”, added Marc Madiot. “We’re still in the mix, and it will be an elimination race”. “On the col de la Loze, the gaps will be counted in minutes”, recalled Thibaut, now 18th overall. “The Tour is very long. Above all, we can’t have a bad day, and if others have one, we’ll need to take advantage of it. We don’t feel like we’re on day 5 of the Tour, but rather at the end of the second week because the fatigue is already there and so are the gaps. It’s quite promising for the third week”.

David Gaudu concluded: “There are still a lot of mountains to come. We continue to fight, and the Alps will be decisive for sure. The Tour is still very, very, very long. We’re not going to lose our course. Actually, we slowly but surely improve on the general classification. The team is motivated, we need to keep fighting, and cope with the harder days. There may be difficult days for others too, and that is when we will need to seize the opportunity”.

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