The German Emanuel Buchmann takes fourth place after a great ride. On the 14th stage the French cheer again.
Emanuel Buchmann has awakened German hopes for a top place in the Tour de France with an outstanding climbing show up to the legendary Tourmalet – but the glowing man in yellow remains Julian Alaphilippe. Buchmann drove on Saturday on the 14th stage to the mountain giant of the Pyrenees up to an impressive fourth place and brought with a sharp attack even defending champion Geraint Thomas in bad hardships. But once again the French were able to cheer: Thibaut Pinot won 117.5 kilometres ahead of Alaphilippe, who even extended his lead in the overall standings ahead of Thomas.
“I felt great and had good legs,” said Buchmann, adding 1.1 kilometres from the finish in view of his attack: “We didn’t drive that fast. So I thought I’d just give it a try. I heard that Thomas had problems. That’s nice to hear. I’m optimistic for the next few days.”
President Emanuel Macrons followed the stage in the support vehicle
Before the eyes of French President Emanuel Macron, who took a seat in Tour boss Christian Prudhomme’s car, the decision was made shortly before the finish line of the 2115-metre Tourmalet, when Buchmann ensured the decisive speed increase. That was too much for Thomas, who lost 36 seconds in the end.
But the big surprise was once again Alaphilippe, who outgrew himself and even sprinted to second place on the day. The day before, the world number one had already won the individual time trial and let his fellow countrymen dream on. Alaphilippe is now 2:02 minutes ahead of Thomas and 2:14 minutes ahead of Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk. Buchmann follows 3:12 minutes back to fifth place.
“This will be one of the decisive stages of the tour”, Buchmann had announced and was right. With high speed the group of favourites went into the climb to the Tourmalet, which was in the program for the 83rd time. The race resembled a qualifying race, with prominent names gradually saying goodbye to the group. Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, World Champion Alejandro Valverde, Jakob Fuglsang, Rigoberto Uran and finally Thomas – only Buchmann showed no weaknesses.
Already at the first obstacle of the day some highly traded players got into trouble. Former Tour runner-up Romain Bardet was forced to pull off the 1474-metre Col du Soulor early on and missed all chances of a top place in the overall standings. Also co-favourite Adam Yates had problems before he was finally shaken off at the Tourmalet.
Maximilian Schachmann, on the other hand, went to Berlin instead of the Tourmalet after he had suffered a break of three bones in his left middle hand during a crash in the time trial the day before. The 25-year-old is scheduled to return to the competition in late autumn. “I slept quite well, but once I made a full braking in my dream with my hand. I’m doing well under the circumstances,” the 25-year-old professional cyclist reported on Saturday morning at the Bora-hansgrohe team hotel in Pau.
Climbing continues on Sunday
Three-time Cross World Champion Wout van Aert had also been badly hit. The Belgian had to be operated for one hour on Friday. Tony Martin’s Belgian teammate did not suffer any fractures, but the deep flesh wound went right into the muscle. “It was a terrible sight. Wout will have to stay in hospital for a few days,” said Mathieu Heijboer, performance manager of Jumbo-Visma. Van Aert was stuck in a bend on a barrier. His thigh was slit open.
On Sunday the climbing continues in the Pyrenees. On the 185.5 kilometres from Limoux to Foix Prat d’Albis the pro cyclists have to climb three mountains of the first category. The last climb was a tough one with 11.8 kilometres and a gradient of 6.8 percent.