Tour de France 2017
Team Sunweb’s Barguil showed maturity beyond his 25 years to outfox resurgent Colombian Quintana (Movistar) and Spaniards Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Landa (Team Sky), sprinting clear in a four-man break to win a short and sharp 101km stage in the Ariege.
Barguil’s victory – five days after the Frenchman was reduced to tears after losing to Rigoberto Uran in a photo finish at Chambery – was a first for the host nation on Bastille Day since David Moncoutie in 2005.
“It completely makes up for it,” Barguil said. “This just felt so good today. I was really on top of it. Eight-hundred metres from the end, I felt like I was on top of it. Alberto Contador went on the attack. I went on the outside of him and then back in and I knew that I would be the fastest.”
A near-perfect day in the saddle also saw Barguil extend his lead in the polka dot mountain classification, in which he now leads Landa by 61 points.
Italian race leader Fabio Aru (Astana) endured a challenging first day in yellow after Team Sky piled on the pressure through Landa, defending champion Chris Froome and Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski.
Having weathered the storm in a frenetic stage that lasted little over two-and-a-half-hours, Aru finished in a select group of general classification favourites to retain his six-second lead over Froome in an increasingly intriguing battle for yellow.
But the coup of the day came from Landa and Contador, who rose into the top five and top ten respectively. The Spanish duo rode clear on the first of three first-category climbs in the Pyrenees before being joined by Barguil and Quintana on the third climb, the infamous Mur de Peguere, inside the final 30km.
Landa rose to fifth place, 1:09 down on Aru, while Contador returned into the top ten, 5:22 in arrears. Runner-up in May’s Giro d’Italia, the jaded Quintana also slashed his deficit by almost half: still eighth, he now trails Aru by 2:07 with mountain stages of both the Massif Central and Alps still to come.
Ireland’s Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) and British youngster Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) broke clear from the group of race favourites on the final descent to Foix to steal back nine seconds. Landa’s ride, however, means Martin drops to sixth in the GC, while seventh-place Yates extended his lead over South Africa’s Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) in the white jersey youth standings.
With three steep climbs, some narrow descents and a short parcours of just 101km, Stage 13 was prime ambush territory for an isolated Aru experiencing his first hours in the maillot jaune.
Distanced before the Col de Latrape, Aru’s Danish team-mate Jakob Fuglsang struggled with broken bones in his wrist and elbow and withdrew half way through the stage – with his leader left to fend for himself in the group of favourites.
After a series of early skirmishes – most notably by Barguil himself, alongside compatriot Thomas Voeckler – Contador made the first major move from the big-name riders, the Spaniard’s attack was covered by compatriot Landa. They were joined by Barguil – and the trio passed over the summit with lone leader, Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), just ahead.
De Marchi and Barguil were dropped on the Col d’Agnes as Landa and Contador rode clear. Behind, Movistar’s Colombian duo Quintana and Betancur attacked from the yellow jersey group in a move tracked by another Sky rider, this time Kwiatkowski.
Quintana and Kwiatkowski soon joined forces with Barguil and the trio crested the summit within touching distance of the leaders. When the two groups came together on the Mur de Peguere, the steep 18% section saw Kwiatkowski fall back and wait for Froome, who tested his legs with a series of attacks near the summit.
Barguil took maximum points over the summit before Romain Bardet (Ag2R-La Mondiale) and Froome both attacked on the descent. Cannondale-Drapac’s Uran opened up a small gap before being pegged back – opening the door for Martin and Yates to try their luck as Aru, Froome and Bardet marked each other out.
While the leading quartet saw their advantage drop below the two-minute mark, there was never any question of them being caught. With their positions on the GC perhaps playing on their mind, Barguil entered Foix the most serene – and after the Frenchman countered Contador’s attack in the final 500m, he took the best line around the final sweeping bend before taking the biggest win of his career.
Team Sky may rue leaving the day empty handed after fighting multiple battles on all fronts. But with Froome still very much knocking on Aru’s door, and Landa now an effective foil, the British team are in a good position entering an exciting weekend of racing that ends up in the Massif Central on Sunday.
Before that, the Tour continues with the scenic 181.5km Stage 14 through the Tarn valley, which includes two lower-category climbs ahead of a slightly ramped finish in Rodez.
Stage 13 results: 1 Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) 2:36:29, 2 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) same time, 3 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) s/t, 4 Mikel Landa (Team Sky) +2, 5 Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) +1:39, 6 Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors), 7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) +1:48, 8 Chris Froome (Team Sky) s/t, 9 Fabio Aru (Astana Pro) s/t, 10 Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) s/t.
General classification after stage 13: 1 Fabio Aru (Astana Pro) 55:30:06, 2 Chris Froome (Team Sky) +6, 3 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) +25, 4 Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) +35, 5 Mikel Landa (Team Sky) +1:09, 6 Daniel Martin (Quick-Step) +1:32, 7 Simon Yates (Orica-Scott) +2:04, 8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:07, 9 Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) +4:51, 10 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +5:22.