Tadej Pogačar clearly isn’t content to wait until the Pyrenees to try and wrench back the yellow jersey from Jonas Vingegaard, attacking multiple times in the opening 50km of stage 14 from Saint-Etienne to Mende, taking the race to Jumbo-Visma.
More interestingly, the Slovenian tried to enlist the help of the Ineos Grenadiers, asking if they were thinking of attacking on the hilly route in the heat.
“I think he wanted to put pressure on Jumbo,” Tom Pidcock explained, offering his interpretation of Pogačar’s activeness on a day that wasn’t expected to see much GC action. “He was also asking if I’d jump or if Adam would jump. I think starts like that they did well to control it to be honest because it was pretty hectic.
“I mean we were talking about this stage yesterday,” the Alpe d’Huez winner continued. “And Luke said it would be the hardest stage of the Tour, which sums it up really doesn’t it? It was super hilly but you think, ah it’s not mountains but it’s heavy roads, hilly. Even if we’d rode it easy all day, it was hard.”
The Brit admitted he made his life harder by dropping back to the team car on the approach to the first climb of the day where the fireworks began, in order to apply the suncream he’d forgotten before the stage. Pidcock was distanced on the final climb up to the Mende airport, losing around a minute by the time he crossed the line.
“[I was a] little bit cooked to be honest,” he said. “I just went back to the car before that climb because I forgot to put suncream on this morning, and then I came into this climb at the back and they went full gas, ah, yeah, hard bike racing isn’t it? It’s annoying really.”
From gilets to suncream, the fact that Ineos Grenadiers still have Thomas, Yates and Pidcock in the top 10 of the general classification despite their forgetfulness speaks to their form. If they remember everything for the final week in the Pyrenees they will hope to take the race to Pogačar and Vingegaard.
Michael Better contributed reporting.