Konrad fills talent with biggest win of career
Another day, another victory from a spectacular solo attack. Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) was inspired by the many riders who won stages of this Tour de France with distance attacks by setting off alone nearly 40 km from the finish, and holding until bout to claim the biggest victory of his career.
In what was a tactically intriguing fight in the breakaway, Konrad stole a step over other breakaway top climber David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) by jumping out of the group into a breakaway top trio earlier. The lead he was given was enough to prepare him for the stage victory, because despite sufficient power to knock down all the other riders except one, Gaudu’s attack on the penultimate climb failed. not enough to bring Konrad back.It still required considerable effort, and the way Konrad winced as he tackled the following climbs suggested he was in pain. But if he was, it didn’t seem to affect his pace, and he never showed any signs of slowing down as he approached the finish.
Surprisingly for a runner who has long established himself as a top climber, Konrad’s only previous victories had come at the Austrian national championships; despite a few top ten rankings in the overall Grand Tours standings and in some of the most prestigious classics, it lacked something more needed to win more races.
Finally, at 29, he has a track record to match his talent.
Colbrelli still amazes us with his climbing
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) once again amazed us with his new climbing ability to finish second on the stage.
Even if he is not quite at the level of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Colbrelli certainly shares some of the abilities of the Belgian at all levels, and makes a good place on this Tour by climbing remarkably well for a sprinter.
After causing a big shock last week in the Alps to finish as high as third place on the first finish at the top of the race, the Italian once again made today’s climbs better than alleged climbers senior by being the only man able to stay with David Gaudu accelerations.
2021 has arguably been the best season of the 31-year-old’s career, scoring a few WorldTour victories and crowning Italian national champion, and has largely relied on improved climbing.
The way he runs this Tour deserves a stage victory, but he has been badly served by a route which does not highlight his strengths; stages here tend to be reserved for pure climbers, pure sprinters or breakaway specialists, not ending with the kind of small tuck sprints he won stages in at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour de Romandie earlier this year. .
Instead, fighting for the breakaway was his best chance for a stage victory, and he tried again valiantly today, and did well to still have the legs to sprint for the. second place in the chasing group.
The remaining stages appear to be too flat or too mountainous for him to win, but his race is not over yet – his efforts today were enough to lift him to third in the points standings, and he has not yet given on the green jersey.
Cavendish’s grip on the green jersey loosens
The green jersey competition is still alive and well, as Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) made great efforts to enter the break of the day and reduce their deficit against Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step )
Despite the numerous climbs of the course, the two riders managed to accumulate points both in the intermediate sprint and at the finish, 36 for Colbrelli and 35 for Matthews.
In the green jersey, Cavendish instead focused on preserving as much energy as possible, drifting early in a bus with teammates Michael Mørkoov, Davide Ballerini and Tim Declercq for company.
The biggest hurdle between him and his victory in Paris seemed to be whether or not he could finish in the allotted time on Wednesday and Thursday during the huge mountaintop finishes, and while that remains a considerable danger, Colbrelli and especially Matthews are now a little too close for more comfort in the points classification.
If something were to go wrong for Cavendish in the Friday or Sunday sprints, whether in the form of a fall or poor positioning, an opportunity could open up for Matthews, who is now down 37 points behind him, to take the jersey. It could be a tense and exciting end to the competition.
No GC action
There are only two stages left in the mountains for the climbers to save time on the overall standings, as everyone at the top of the standings has chosen to take today’s stage gently and wait for both. next arrivals at the top of the mountain.
In truth, this course never seemed particularly conducive to the attacks of the favorites. Only one of the four climbs tackled was classified in category 1, and it occurred at the start of the stage. And most of the last 30km were either downhill or flat, with the exception of a short 1km Category four climb near the finish.
Despite the relaxed atmosphere in the peloton, this last climb sparked some surprise attacks, first from the ninth Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), who was trying to regain some of the few minutes he had lost yesterday, then from Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), for more oblique reasons.
It was an entertaining storm, but to no avail, as the GC riders all crossed the line together.
It was an anti-climax for anyone hopefully hoping for GC action, but there will be no such disappointment tomorrow – on a climb as daunting as the Col du Portet, at the top of which the stage will end, there is nowhere to hide.
Ineos Grenadiers among the teams running out of time
With Patrick Konrad giving his Bora-Hansgrohe team a second stage victory after Nils Politt’s success last week, there are 15 teams still without a win on this Tour, including some of the most important in the race.
Among these teams are Ineos Grenadiers, who are still struggling to adapt so as not to be the team defending the yellow jersey for once. Rather than repeat their doomed tactic of riding ahead on the climbs, today they showed some intention to win a stage, with Michał Kwiatkowski spending time at the start of the stage in the break.
But when that group was caught, they didn’t put anyone in the final group that escaped, meaning another stage passed without the team achieving any success.
Astana-Premier Tech and Groupama-FDJ at least managed to get riders in the breakaway in the form of Alex Aranburu and David Gaudu respectively, but their failure to win the stage means that both teams are running out of time to save. their shopping.
Expect all of these teams, along with Movistar, DSM and Lotto-Soudal, to do their utmost to put the riders in position to win on the next Pyrenean stages.