Behind him, keeping their last reserves of strength for a time trial on Saturday that will decide the podium of the Tour, race leader Primoz Roglic and his rivals preferred to go to the race while Andersen fought for the prestige of stage victory.
He left 11 other riders with whom he had been in a breakaway for the dead with acceleration 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the finish at Champagnole in eastern France.
He held up two fingers on the line – one for each of his stage wins.
The focus is now on the time trial, in which Roglic will aim to clinch his first Tour title, which would also be the first by a Slovenian.
” So far, so good. I feel good, ”Roglic said. “It’s all for me. ”
And if he suffers an accident, Slovenia will still have a second chance, in the form of Tadej Pogacar, second overall.
Only 57 seconds separate the compatriots. This lead should be enough for Roglic, winner of the time trial last year at the Spanish Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia. But it could fade with a fall, a bad breakdown or any other accident on the difficult course in the Vosges, the last of the five mountain ranges climbed by this Tour.
At the Slovenian National Championships in June, Pogacar beat Roglic by nine seconds in a time trial which had a similar elevation gain, around 700 meters, but was much shorter, just under 10 miles.
Saturday’s route is more than double, 36.2 kilometers. It will take a nuanced effort, with a first flat part followed by a first ascent then a sinuous descent before a strong climb in hairpin bends leading to a small ski resort, La Planche des Belles Filles. The finishing ramp is a very steep 20% incline, with other sections before the more than 10% one.
Behind Roglic and Pogacar – nicknamed by some Rog and Pog – the third overall, Miguel Angel Lopez of Colombia will try to secure his place on the podium. He is 1 minute and 27 seconds behind the lead, which should put Roglic out of reach for him.