Warren Barguil nailed his line around the last corner to perfection. Took it wide and exited with all the momentum to hold off his three breakaway companions Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa. The Sunweb man they nickname Wawa claimed the first French victory on Bastille Day since 2005 after a day spent on the attack, more than making up for his Stage 9 disappointment The top three on GC remain exactly the same with Fabio Aru still holding a 6sec advantage over Chris Froome despite fierce skirmishes all over the Pyrenean parcours. Mikel Landa moves into 5th after joining Contador in a Spanish raid on the Col d’Agnes. The shortest stage in the Tour produced a rip-roaring day of racing – who would have thought that eh?
Rider of the Race
At only 101kms and packing in three Cat 1 climbs this stage had every cycling fan breathless with anticipation and it did not disappoint. I said on twitter after the stage that I had a shortlist of three, I’ve whittled it down to two and neither are either Danish or French!!! In the best traditions of the award, they are chosen for battling through adversity and pulling something out of the hat to make us stand up and cheer to the rafters. Step right up to to the podium Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) and Dan Martin (Quick Step Floors).
It has been hard at times to watch the beleaguered, bruised and battered Trek- Segafredo captain look so out of sorts in his favoured terrain. Just a few days ago he said the Tour was testing his resilience to the limit, but the man never gives up while there is a fight to be had. Today he attacked with Landa on the first climb of the day and stayed away to contest for the sprint win, a feat that sealed him a trip to the podium for most combative rider. What a joy to see him dancing on the pedals. Sure, it may not have been with quite the same lightness of touch, but he still has all the capability and instinct to have a say in the destiny of the maillot jaune yet.
I woke up this morning with very bad feelings. But I had a good talk and a good look at the different climbs with my sport director Steven de Jongh on the way to the start and I said I’d attack in the first climb if possible. I’m hoping to keep getting better and better with all the injuries I have. I still want to fight till the end and repay Trek-Segafredo for the confidence they have in me.
Quickstepper Dan is also battered and bruised – still recovering from his horrendous crash on Stage 9. With the lead four gaining time on him in GC, the Irishman took to the front of the fractured yellow jersey group and gave it everything he had on the goat-track ascent of the Mur de Péguère. He paid for the effort near the summit, but fearless descending finally snapped the elastic and he rode away with Simon Yates (ORICA-Scott) to gain 9secs on Aru and Froome.
Conspiracies from the front
When Mikel Landa joined forces with Alberto Contador, twitter lit up with gleeful conspiracy theories and several minutes were spent scanning the images to see if his earpiece was still in place (it was). He’s climbed up to 5th overall only +1:09 adrift and he looked cool as a cucumber while doing so. Was this a deliberate ploy by Sky to gain a great one-two strategic advantage? Or was Landa sent on a watching brief to mark the moves and then went that little bit further? Certainly his captain seemed eager to chase him down on the run in to Foix leading to many further questions on Sky’s tactics, they could have had Landa in yellow and Froome in waiting. Time will tell, but I’m rooting for FULL ROGUE LANDA!!!
As expected Aru was isolated very early in the chaotic stage. However, the yellow jersey stayed calm and didn’t look to be in trouble as he resisted attack after attack by Froome and Romain Bardet. He did find allies in the unlikeliest of places though, with UAE-Emirates doing a lot of pace setting to help peg Landa back from virtual-leader status. Twitter loved that too.
One thing is for sure, as sanguine as Aru rode today he needs more time between himself and Froome before that final time trial on stage 20. He’s no Tom Dumoulin and will not be able to just follow wheels until Paris.
News from the back
The Tour is a cruel mistress and it was a particularly hard stage for #MidgeFavs. Today saw Arthur Vichot abandon leaving FDJ with just four riders left in the race. Astana’s bid to carry the yellow jersey to Paris took a blow as Jakob Fuglsang finally succumbed to his fractured wrist and elbow. Anyone who witnessed his struggle today, barely able to hold the handlebars, would salute his courage and also be relieved he climbed off after nearly two hours. Many might also question why he was on the start line at all. More details can be found in this TV2 report. It’s in Danish but the usual translate apps work well enough – it’s a hard read.
The last word
You won’t find a more popular victory on Bastille day… or any day for that matter. Thrilled for Warren #WAWAPOWA
Top 5 stage
1 Warren Barguil (Sunweb) 2:36:29
2 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) same time
3 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) s/t
4 Mikel Landa (Sky) +0:02
5 Simon Yates (ORICA-Scott) +1:39
Top 5 GC
1 Fabio Aru (Astana) 53:30:06
2 Chris Froome (Sky) +0:06
3 Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:25
4 Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) +0:35
5 Mikel Landa (Sky) +1:39
All the jerseys
Leader: Fabio Aru (Astana)
Points: Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors)
KOM: Warren Barguil (Sunweb)
Best Young Rider: Simon Yates (Orica-Scott)
Team Classification: Sky
Most Aggressive Rider: Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo)
Header image: Warren Barguil Team Sunweb © Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images