Tour de Francia (st. 8)
Carlos joins winning break at opening Pyrenean stage, ends up only beaten by Peters (ALM) and Skujins (TFS); Mas resists at Peyresourde, concedes 40″ against main GC field to now sit in 10th overall.
/ Today’s route
After one week with tense situations and calmer routes, the riders would be taking on the first big mountain block of this year’s Tour: the Pyrenees. As first course, 141km from Cazères-sur-Garonne to Loudenvielle, over the Col de Menté (Cat-1; 7km @ 8%) and the consecutive ascents to the Port de Balès (HC; almost 12km @ 7.7%) and the Peyresourde (Cat-1 + Bonus; nearly 10km @ 7.8%), finishing with a fast descent.
/ Weather report
The new dates are playing an impact on the weather, the Pyrenees being nowhere near as warm as in July. It would be hot at the start, close to 30ºC, but not on the climbs -about 22ºC- and definitely not on the summits, either (17ºC). Northerly winds, with no significant influence on the race.
/ Keys to the race
- The Movistar Team took on a leading role from the bang with one of the Blues into what ended up being the winning break. Carlos Verona joined a 13-rider move which the peloton, with Mitchelton-Scott not interested in the stage win, let gain a massive advantage before the Col de Menté (Cat-1): a maximum gap of 14 minutes. The margin after the climb and downhill, less than 70km from the end, got a bit on the down at last, with INEOS leading the main field 12′ behind.
- Verona, initially on supporting duties with his move, ended up seeking for individual success, his legs leading him to a good position, alwas near the leaders, at both the Port de Balès and the Peyresourde. In fact, only two riders took the better from Carlos at the finish: Peters (ALM), who overtook Zakarin (CCC) at the Balès downhill to win with almost a minute’s margin; and Skujins (TFS), who, together with the Spaniard from the Movistar Team, chased down and dropped back Zakarin at the last descent and overtook Verona in the sprint for 2nd.
- Behind, the battle between the GC contenders was fierce at the Peyresourde, with a series of attacks by Pogacar (UAD) allowing the Slovenian build a 40″ gap over a first echelon of favourites Enric Mas (Movistar Team) fought hard to be at. The Mallorca native came few bike lengths short to staying with struggling race leader Adam Yates (MTS) at the end of the climb, and was forced to pursue alone through the entire descent, conceding 38″ against the group yet climbing up to 10th overall, exactly one minute behind the yellow jersey.
Carlos Verona: “We’ve been able to at least stay in the mix, both into my breakaway and the GC group, and despite Enric losing a bit of time in the end, it’s a stage to be moderately optimistic about. We knew it would be a difficult day, one when it counted much to have people going into the breakaway in case you needed some help at the climbs, and so we got ourselves into that move. Eventually, the peloton let us gain a big gap and I could contest the stage win. I felt good legs all day long, even if seeing yourself always so close to the leaders and not being able to finally bridge back and contest the win outright leaves you a bittersweet taste. As I said, I’m happy with my performance and with the team’s overall effort today.”
/ Upcoming goals
The Pyrenees, and the first stretch of the 2020 Tour, will be completed on Sunday -watch out for the early finish, around 4.30pm CEST- with another demanding route, though probably less decisive. 153km from Pau to Laruns, climbing the Soudet (Cat-3) through Issarbe-Hourcère (Cat-1) plus the Marie Blanque (Cat-1), the latter 18km from the end.
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto