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Sunday, July 16, 2023

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2022 Tour de France | 2023 Giro d'Italia

It always seems impossible until it's done. - Nelson Mandela

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 14 reports

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

Here’s the report from stage winner Carlos Rodriguez's Team INEOS Grenadiers:

A phenomenal performance from Carlos Rodriguez saw him win his first Grand Tour stage in Morzine.

Dropped by lead duo Tadej Pogacar and yellow jersey Jonas VIngegaard on the final climb, Rodriguez dug deep, bridged back to the leaders before attacking them on the descent.

Rodriguez then out in a tremendous descending display, stretching his gap to the chasers in a high-speed run to the line, holding them at bay to record a remarkable stage win.

Carlos Rodriguez wins stage 14. Sirotti photo

The performance puts him third overall, one second ahead of Jai Hindley (Bora Hansgrohe) who finished in a chase group behind the former Spanish national champion.

Earlier, the stage had started with a large crash after six kilometres, with three Grenadiers affected. Tom Pidcock, Dani Martinez and Omar Fraile all went down, but were able to continue after the race was neutralised to allow for everyone to receive medical attention.

The crash did not affect Martinez too much as he was the first Grenadier in a large 20-rider break, before stage 13 winner Michal Kwiatkowski joined him.

However, the peloton behind was keen to make the stage as difficult as possible with Jumbo Visma setting a tough pace that restricted the breakaway's advantage. The duo were reeled in on the penultimate climb as the peloton thinned significantly.

Rodriguez, Tom Pidcock and Jonathan Castroviejo then worked well together to stay in the GC group as several rivals dropped back. Just before the summit, Pidcock also dropped but fought to catch the leaders on the descent and flat run into the final climb, the Joux Plane.

Pidcock was not able to bridge the gap, but was able to limit losses on a brutal finale for all the GC riders. Ahead, Rodriguez was alone with Vingegaard and Pogacar for company until the pair accelerated as they neared the summit.

Undeterred, the Grenadier kept a strong pace behind, bided his time, then capitalised on the duelling top two by first catching them on the descent, before attacking immediately and gaining a small advantage.

Rodriguez then put in a masterclass in descending to extend his lead and to finish the stage solo and celebrate his first Grand Tour stage win in style.

Carlos Rodriguez:
“It’s incredible. I have no words. Just being here was a dream. Getting a victory in the best race in the world is something I’ve always wanted to achieve. Now I’ve got a victory. I’m super happy and super grateful to the team for all their work and for believing in me. It wouldn’t have been possible without them. I just have to thank them.

“I just focussed on doing the best climb I could, going at my own rhythm, and then doing the descent as fast as possible. They started looking at each other and I thought about going full gas to the finish. I can descend well more or less so I wanted to take advantage of it. I took some risks without going to the absolute limits because I didn’t want to crash – although I was close in a couple of corners that I thought weren’t so sharp. I’m super happy with this victory!

“Not only [Michal Kwiatkowski’s] victory [was inspiring], also his work and all the team. For example today he was in the break and he dropped to come back. He went to the car three times to get us bottles, all in 10 minutes. It was incredible, and it’s details like that which make the difference. I think that helped me accomplish this victory and that is part of the work for sure.

“That was a goal of the day to gain some time and we accomplished it. I’m very happy on that side. I just have to be happy, enjoy this victory and think about recovering a little for tomorrow. That is going to be a big day also.”

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Here's the stage 14 report from GC leader Jonas Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma:

Jonas Vingegaard has finished third in the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France. The first Alpine stage was a spectacle, with the leader of Team Jumbo-Visma holding off an attack by Tadej Pogacar. Vingegaard grabbed the bonus seconds at the top of the final climb, increasing his lead in the general classification by one second. He also took the lead in the mountain classification.

Vingegaard remains in yellow. Sirotti photo

The stage to Morzine les Portes du Soleil was rocked by a big crash early on. Wilco Kelderman and Nathan Van Hooydonck were involved but could continue without many problems. After a short neutralisation, the race broke wide open. Team Jumbo-Visma set a high tempo in the peloton. This ensured that a large breakaway was caught on the penultimate climb before the Col de Joux Plane.

Wout van Aert and Sepp Kuss took the lead for the first few kilometres before Adam Yates put his teammate Pogacar in the lead. Vingegaard kept his own pace and came back after a good effort. After that, the pace was much slower until the summit. Vingegaard surprised Pogacar in the climb’s final metres and took the bonus seconds. The Dane eventually lost out to Pogacar in the final sprint but still finished one second ahead of his opponent, thanks to the bonification seconds.

"It was a good day”, the 26-year-old Vingegaard said. "I still have the yellow jersey, and I am enjoying it. I have to thank my teammates because they rode great today. We wanted to make the race hard, and we did that. Ultimately, I am happy to have finished one second ahead of Pogacar.”

Vingegaard quickly realised that he could not respond to Pogacar's attack. "He is incredibly explosive. I couldn't follow his attack and ride at my own pace. Luckily I was able to come back. Our level is incredibly close, and that makes it a great fight. We are both super strong.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann agreed with Vingegaard. "The team rode an excellent stage. We wanted to make it a gruelling race, and we succeeded. Of course, we hoped to get rid of Pogacar on the final climb, but he and Jonas were evenly matched. If they continue to race at this level, it will be a battle of seconds to Paris. The positive thing for us is that Jonas managed to get the bonus seconds. Satisfaction prevails today, but there are still some tough days ahead.”

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

The outstanding duel between Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) in the Tour de France again provided cycling fans another thrilling chapter that ended with a draw.

Pogacar and Vingegaard descend the Joux Plane together. Sirotti photo

At the end of stage 14 (Annemasse-Morzine les Portes du Soleil, 151,8 km with 5 mountain passes), UAE Team Emirates’ captain was 2nd and Vingegaard was 3rd, both at 5” to the winner Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos-Grenadiers). With that situation, the general classification changed very little: thanks to the time bonuses assigned on the top of the last climb of the course (Joux Plane, Vingegaard 1st, Pogačar 2nd) and at the arrival, the Danish cyclist increased by 1” his advantage on the Slovenian rival and now the gap between 1st and the 2nd of the general classification is 10”.

As expected, the climb of the Joux Plane was the key moment of the race: at 3,5 km to the summit Adam Yates raised the pace and Pogačar attacked and built an advantage of 6” on Vingegaard, but the Danish rider managed to close the gap in a couple of kilometers.

Pogačar was forced to abort his attempt of anticipating the action because of two motorbikes that were too close to the cyclists which meant both riders had to break and allowing the comeback of Carlos Rodriguez, who then covered the downhill to Morzine at full speed and managed to keep a small but important advantage on Pogačar (2nd), Vingegaard (3rd) and Adam Yates (4th).

Pogačar: “I think it was a really good day for us, we were really strong, okay we didn’t win but we pushed hard and go in the next stages with a positive mind.
Where this Tour de France can be decided? Tomorrow a really hard stage is coming, then the time trial, stage 17 with the Col de la Loze close to the arrival and also stage 20 could be a key moment. It’s gonna be really tight, but I am going in with a good mindset and good legs for these stages”.

Stage 15 will be very demanding too: after the start from Les Gets les Portes du Soleil, the riders will cover 179 km climbing on two 1st category Kom, one 3rd category Kom and one 2nd category Kom, before reaching the arrival in Saint Gervais Mont Blanc at the top of a 1st category climb (7,7 km at 7%).

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And here's the report from Romain Bardet's Team dsm-firmenich:

After some good riding in the opening half of the race, sitting just outside the top ten overall and with ambitions to chase stages in the upcoming period, Romain Bardet unfortunately had to abandon the Tour de France on stage 14 this afternoon.

Romain Bardet before the stage start. Sirotti photo

Involved in a crash on the descent, Bardet hit the ground around a slippy corner. He was immediately checked over by the doctor but in pain and with a suspected concussion, the decision was made that he would step out of the race. After further medical examinations, a concussion was confirmed alongside several abrasions.

Team dsm-firmenich coach Matt Winston added: “It’s a real shame to lose Romain in this way, as he is a fighter and really wanted to give the race a go; not only today but also in the coming week. It’s always difficult to make this decision during the race but when there is even a small bit of doubt then there is no discussion and Romain had to step off the bike for his own safety. We all wish him the best in his recovery, and for the guys left at the Tour, we will regroup and hunt day success throughout the remainder of the race.”

Team dsm-firmenich doctor Laurens Kappelle continued: “Romain suffered multiple skin abrasions on his hip, shoulder and knee, plus a concussion in the crash today. It is important for him to take complete rest now and we’ll monitor him closely in the coming days, following our concussion procedure closely, before we take any further steps.”

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