The race moved back into lumpy territory today, with 159km of ups and downs which smashed and splintered the race like a cheap chair – aside from the yellow jersey group, which stayed together like a sturdy Chesterfield and gave Froome a comfy ride to the finish. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) rode out of the chaos, picking up plenty of polka-points throughout the day, but had to be satisfied with the King of the Mountains jersey as IAM Jarlinson Pantano’s irresistible charge down the second descent of the Colombier to set up a two-man duel for the stage.
Rider of the Race
It was all about Jarlinson Pantano today. In the break all day today, the Colombian found himself with just Rafal Majak as they took on the final circuit and the climb of the Lacets du Grand Colombier. He had to dig deep after Majka dropped him, but his tenacious descent brought him right back into the race and set up a grand finale for the day. It was a difficult descent, with soft tar nearly spelling doom for Majka, which underlines the determination and the quality of Pantano’s ride. Keeping a cool head on a hot day, your team about to fold and you’re riding for your career in the biggest race of the year – well, that’s not easy, but Pantano did it with panache today. Majka tried to outfox him but he was always going to win in a two-man sprint with the Polish rider – and that is exactly what he did. He even had time for an emphatic salute with a smile a mile wide.
Poor Julian Alaphilippe. He could really use a break. Somehow coming out of “that” crash two days ago without any major injury, he would have been forgiven for thinking that today was his day, when he found himself out front on his own, and striking out for the stage win. Fate – also known as his chain – had other ideas, jumping off a reported 10 times before he managed to get hold of a replacement bike. That said, when he did get going again, he engaged Angryphilippe Mode, and tore up the road, spitting the dummy when the team car came alongside him and hunting down (in vain) the stage victory. For us, at least, it added some much needed fire to the race.
Nothing to GC here
Today was another potentially risky day chalked off for Chris Froome and another missed opportunity for his rivals to steal back some time. Sky appeared slightly less dominant setting up for the ascent of the visually striking Lacets du Grand Colombier, and with other GC rivals having good support, you could have been forgiven for hoping that there would be some fireworks. Sadly not. One short-lived attack from Fabio Aru aside (who is surely only slightly more of a threat to the yellow jersey than Mark Cavendish), and a little spurt from Alejandro Valverde (I apologise for the image) there was nothing much to shout about. I may be wrong, but all of the signs are starting to point to Nairo Quintana just not having the legs or the instinct to take the fight to Froome when the opportunity presents itself. That said, we have three big days in the Alps coming up … but will it be too late?
1 Jarlinson Pantano (IAM) 4:24:49
2 Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) s/t
3 Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:06
4 Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ) s/t
5 Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx Quickstep) +0:22
GC top 5
1 Chris Froome (Sky) 68:14:51
2 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +1:47
3 Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) +2:45
4 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:59
5 Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) +3:17
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Chris Froome (Sky)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)
KOM jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff)
Best Young Rider: Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange)
For full stage review: Cycling News
Header image: One happy Pantano ©GETTY/Kenzo Tribouillard