A tired peloton took it easy after Wednesday’s double ascent of Mont Ventoux, with an opportunistic getaway led by Nils Politt, who, after a series of top-five results at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de Flanders, took the biggest victory of his career in Nimes.
The 27-year-old from Cologne has never won a stage in one of the Grand Tours of Europe in Italy, France or Spain. “It’s my fifth time on the Tour and it’s the biggest dream I could have,” he said.
“The stage was quite nervous and even from the first five kilometers, with the wind, we had steps. After the Mont Ventoux stage, everyone was happy with the break and it was clear that the break would reach the finish line ”.
The German rouleur, with the Bora-Hansgrohe team, attacked his last escapees, Harrison Sweeny and Imanol Erviti, to put the ghost of his many failures.
“I was talking a lot with my sports director and my coach in the team car behind,” he said. “They know about my power, so they said, ‘Just try it, go and don’t look back,’ so I did it and got 10 seconds, then 23, then 30. After that, it’s game over.”
A flurry of mistral divided the peloton in the first few kilometers, but the pace died down after the race entered the more protected roads through the Gorges de l’Ardèche, a 13-runner breakaway moving clear. With Julian Alaphilippe on the run, Mark Cavendish and his Deceuninck Quick-Step teammates were more than happy to let the movement carry on.
Fifty kilometers from the finish, the break led the sleeping peloton for more than 12 minutes, but on the approach to Nîmes, the group was divided with Sweeny, Erviti, time trial specialist Stefan Küng and Politt, who ran ahead to contest the goal.
Following the abandonment of his team leader Peter Sagan before departure due to a knee injury, Politt rode hard to lose the most dangerous pursuers of the separatist group, which included Alaphilippe and veteran German sprinter André Greipel.
Back in the pack, Tadej Pogacar, the race leader and defending champion, said he was feeling much better after Wednesday’s momentary flash of weakness to the top of Ventoux. “Maybe because it wasn’t that hot. I felt good and my legs were on the mend. “
With the Pyrenean climbing stages arriving this weekend, Pogacar said that if he saw an opportunity, he would take it. Another display in the Pyrenees, similar to the one seen in the Alps, may further increase skepticism towards him.
Joxean Matxín Fernández, sports director of the United Arab Emirates, this week dismissed any doubts about Pogacar. “I sincerely believe that he is in the same condition he was in last year,” he said. “The others have crashed and lost time and Tadej has been lucky thanks to the good work of his team.
“I checked their 2020 power numbers and they are pretty much the same and the same with the number of [doping] controls that he has also done. “When pressed further, Fernández said:” It’s a matter of opinion and I’m not going there. “
Meanwhile, on the day that former Welcome to Yorkshire CEO Gary Verity was among the Tour’s VIP guests, it was reported that the ASO-run Tour de Yorkshire was again under threat after the French Tour promoters decided withdraw your £ 900,000 subscription. of the event.
The Yorkshire tourism body’s new strategy of aligning the race more closely with promoting diversity, equality and sustainability, rather than displaying a single sponsor, also signifies a change in direction.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism