Tour de France: No joy for the sprinters
After four interminable days in the Alps, where the riders had to face some of France’s hardest climbs – Granon, Galibier, Croix de Fer or Alpe d’Huez – the race began its journey towards the Pyrenees with a stage between Bourg d’Oisans and Saint-Étienne, the city where just three years ago Julian Alaphilippe recaptured the yellow jersey which he went on to carry for a total of fourteen days.
Attacks kicked off immediately after the start, but none of these managed to stick as the bunch travelled at over 50km/h, nullifying every move. Some 20 kilometers into the stage, a large group where Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was represented by Mattia Cattaneo and Mikkel Honoré took off and began hoping, as they didn’t need too much to put 40 seconds between them and the peloton. Despite many teams having at least a man there, the group soon crumbled and they were reabsorbed by the chasers, who only later allowed seven men to go clear on this stage at the end of which many were expecting to see the sprinters in action, despite the hilly profile
This move had a gap of just three minutes, but took advantage of the peloton’s heavy legs after the mountains and went all the way to the finish, where Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segrafredo) outsprinted his companions. French Champion Florian Sénéchal ended the day as the team’s best rider, taking eighth place for his first Tour de France top 10.
“We knew the stage was going to be very hard, that’s why we tried to place two guys in the breakaway, but unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we didn’t make it. At the same time, we tried to protect Fabio, after four tough days in the mountains and ahead of two other challenging stages. In the finale, Florian was there and did a good sprint with some help from Mikkel”, said Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels.
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