A bike race broke out today in France as Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) took victory at Foix to continue France’s success at this year Tour.
The short stage promised to be a thoroughly enthralling spectacle after Fabio Aru (Astana) took the Yellow jersey from a vulnerable looking Chris Froome (Team Sky) yesterday. Today’s stage contained three first category climbs, and the day delivered as there was fireworks on the roads of France as the big names came out to play right from the get-go.
For the French supporters there was more joy as Barguil bagged his first Tour de France stage win as the 25-year-old beat a stellar quartet of Mikel Landa (Team Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) to the line at Foix.
It’s been a good Tour for the French riders so far; Romain Bardet (Ag2r La-Mondiale) won yesterday’s tough finish to Peyragudes and now Barguil added a victory at the Tour to his palmares.
Sky set out stall as they plotted to take back the Yellow Jersey
It’s an unusual sight to see Froome without the Maillot Jaune around his shoulders. But after yesterday’s late collapse the Briton was one that had to force the issue and his team duly obliged as they sent out two top riders out in the breakaway.
Landa joined Contador at the head of the race, whilst Quintana, Barguil and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) decided to bridge the gap.
The plan of attack by Sky was evident, send men up the road in the hope Froome could bridge the gap in the latter part of the stage, but in the end that blueprint didn’t quite happen.
The pace from the two Spaniards at the head of the race ensured the Maillot Jaune group which fielded the likes of Dan Martin (Quickstep-Floors), Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) amongst Froome, Aru and Bardet couldn’t join up with the leaders.
Kwiatkowski’s foray in the counter-attack group meant he dropped back to assist Froome, and when the stage hit the main climb, the Mur de Peguere - the exciting finale that was expected came to fruition.
The punishing climb which was 9.3km long and maxed out an 18% gradient was always going to be the deciding factor in the stage. The climb saw a smattering of attacks from various players, but the descent down into Foix was where the attacks happened.
Froome was the one that initiated them, and what ensued was contender after contender trying to gain some vital seconds. Only Martin and Yates saw their late efforts yield some worthwhile time gains, but for Froome, Aru, Bardet and Uran nothing could separate them.
Stellar quartet contest stage win
Whilst the yellow jersey was being fought for behind, out in front the stellar quartet was lining up for a technical finish.
After what has been a drab Tour so far for former winner Contador, the Spaniard was after a stage win. It looked as though he had it in the final metres to the line, but Barguil took the long way round a bend and with the line just ahead the Frenchman had enough power to sweep past El Pistelero to take a famous victory on Bastille Day.