Ben Swift is aiming to be back in the hunt for stage wins at the Tour de France this week after overcoming the injuries he suffered in the crash which ended Mark Cavendish’s race.
But Frenchman Romain Bardet, who is third overall behind race leader Chris Froome, was not so fortunate. Bodnar has distanced his companions to 28 kilometres from the finish and resisted for a long time into the arteries of Pau (14 seconds to 3 kilometres).
Another flat day awaits on Wednesday with a 203.5km trek from Eymet to Pau before the peloton hits the Pyrenees.
At the top of the climb, the riders will be just over 30 kilometres to the finish, with the descent to the penultimate climb leading the riders into the final 15 kilometres. The finish is on an airstrip, an uphill airstrip with an over 20 percent gradient. But I’m happy that I’ve used all the chances I’ve got so far.
Kittel was asked about his future after the stage, with the possibility still open that he moves on from Quick-Step Floors.
Team Sky’s Froome was well protected by his team-mates throughout to easily claim the 51st yellow jersey of his career, moving him into fourth outright on the all-time list behind Eddy Merckx (96), Bernard Hinault (75) and Miguel Indurain (60). That’s the theory, at least, and it is given some credence by Aru’s performance on Stage Five, where he seemed the strongest climber in the race.
He said he will be sticking to second-placed Aru “like glue” as his lead over the Italian is just 18 seconds.
And he believes the stage is ideal for him.
“Sponsors are paying millions of dollars to get performances”, LeMond, on the Tour as an analyst for Eurosport, said in a daily chat with Reuters.
“We’re going to have to be ready to go to war again!”
“In those five bunch sprints I won, I never made a mistake”.
Stage 12 is touted as the “marathon stage” which include four major climbs through its course.
Then on Friday, there is the short but potentially explosive 100km stage from Saint-Girons to Foix, which looks similar in profile to the stage in last year’s Vuelta a Espana where Froome’s bid for victory was effectively ended by canny attacks from his rivals that caught Sky napping.
Cannondale-Drapac team manager Jonathan Vaughters explained that the approach to rest days isn’t really understood scientifically because there have not been enough studies of elite riders performing three-week races. As for the general classification went, Bennett just said “we’ll see what happens”.