Tour de France 2019
In a stage that always promised breakaway success, it was inevitably going to come down to who had the strongest legs after a gruelling four-hour stint in the French sunshine. On the Côte de Saint-Just, it was Impey who proved himself the toughest by bridging the gap between his chasing group and the two leaders, Benoot and Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb).
Benoot did his best to sandbag the faster-finishing South African on the final straight, after the pair left Roche for dead on the run-in. Impey, however, proved to be the man with the most in the tank, comfortably overhauling the Belgian classics specialist in the last 200m. It is Impey’s first Tour de France stage win in seven participations at Le Grand Boucle. It is also his team, Mitchelton-Scott’s first victory in three years at the Tour.
Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Merida) took third in the sprint against Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), fourth, and Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo), fifth. Roche finished a further four seconds down.
With an enormous time gap between the peloton and the leaders, which ballooned out to 14 minutes at its largest, the yellow jersey of Julian Alaphilippe was never really in danger. Nico Roche being the best-placed escapee at 23 minutes down. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider put his team to work policing the escape, but they never looked interested in actually bringing the race back together for the finale.
With the stage finishing in his hometown, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) put in a half-hearted attack inside the last 10km. He was brought back by the peloton in short order, however, along with Richie Porte (Trek Segafredo) and George Bennett (Jumbo Visma) who snuck out of the bunch on the Frenchman’s coat tails.
Peter Sagan’s green jersey lead was also left intact, with all the intermediate sprint points taken out by members of the breakaway. The King of the Mountains competition also remains largely unchanged, with Tim Wellens secure in the polka dots for at least three more days. Trek Segafredo’s Giulio Ciccone remains in the white jersey.
While the peloton crossed the line in relaxed fashion, it was not a day without casualties. Alessandro De Marchi crashed heavily in the opening kilometres and was stretchered into an ambulance. A disappointing end to the combative Italian’s campaign, particularly after being a key protagonist in yesterday’s epic to St Etienne. Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) was also involved in the crash, but managed to battle on. Yoann Offredo (Wanty Groupe Gobert), who barely made the time cut yesterday, was also in trouble early doors but benefited from the very subdued pace in the peloton.
Tomorrow’s stage features a negative elevation gain as the peloton thunders 217.5km down from Saint-Flour to Albi. It looks certain to be fast, furious and fought for by the sprinters.