Tour de France: Nairo Quintana and the thin air of the Alps
Scene of the stage: It was just steep at the Col du Galibier, there Nairo Quintana got off the saddle and sat down with two or three steps a few meters from the escape group. Romain Bardet and Alexey Lutsenko looked at each other, but nobody followed Quintana. When they did, it was already too late. Quintana drove up the Galibier alone, unable to catch up on the descent.
Result of the stage: Quintana won the 208-kilometer Queen Stage of the Tour de France from Embrun to Valloire, with two highest category mountains ahead of Bardet and Lutsenko. Little happened in the race for the yellow jersey. Top talent Egan Bernal caught up just under 30 seconds and moved into second place ahead of his team mate Geraint Thomas. But Julian Alaphilippe still has 1:30 minutes ahead. Click here for the stage report.
Above the clouds: "Everyone knows that I live at altitude and that's the kind of passport I know well," the Colombian said at the finish. He proved his climbing talent impressively over 2000 meters, where the air gets thin. Quintana improved Fränk Schleck's record time of 2011 on this way to the summit of the Galibier by about one minute to 22:08 minutes. In Valloire, Quintana also explained which stain was on his jersey: "It's not blood, it's gel that I rubbed on the jersey."
Expulsion of the tank car: Tony Martin, nicknamed "Armored Car," and his opponent Luke Rowe had been disqualified after their scuffle on the 17th stage in the evening. Their teams Jumbo-Visma and Ineos filed an appeal. Until a few minutes before the start of the stage on Thursday, the two drivers had hoped for the indulgence of the organizers. In the end Martin and Rowe were not allowed to start. In an interview with SPIEGEL, the German criticized the decision.
The escape of the 34: Many drivers set attacks after a sharp start, but the peloton did not leave a breakaway group for a long time. Only after the intermediate sprint after about 50 kilometers did a group of 34 riders disengage and escape the main field. Including mountain specialists like Quintana and Bardet, but also stage hunters like Greg van Avermaet or Simon Geschke. The scoring, meanwhile, had no major impact on the overall standings in the race for the green jersey. Peter Sagan will probably carry the Maillot Vert to Paris.
Top speed: Already on the first longer descent down the Col de Vars the German Nils Politt set a new speed record of the 106th Tour de France. With 101.5 km / h he chased down the street.
The climber: In the Pyrenees Lennard Kämna had repeatedly attacked and there already looked forward to a sixth stage place. The result topped the 22-year-old on the queen stage, as strong fourth, he drove to the finish. "I'm superhappy with it, the Galibier was awesome, that's what I've always hoped for," said Kämna, for whom it's the first Tour de France of his career.
Wellens beaten: Since the third stage, the Belgian Tim Wellens wore the jersey of the best mountain rider. Despite great commitment he could not defend it on the first stage of the Alps. Frenchman Bardet came in second in three climbs, earning enough points to take Wellens off the dress. "Defending the polka-dot jersey is my only goal for the rest of the tour," said Bardet.
departed: At the Galibier both Ineos captains attacked the overall leader Alaphilippe. First Bernal drove off, then Thomas. But the man in yellow caught up in a daring descent to the group of co-favorites. However, Alaphilippe did not manage to reach Bernal.
What's next? Those who were waiting for Alaphilippe's break-in in the Alps were disappointed on Thursday. For the Mitfavoriten the air becomes thinner. Bernal, Thomas, Pinot and Co. have to take one and a half to two minutes on two more Alpine stages on Friday and Saturday Alaphilippe. But even for Alaphilippe the air could be thinner, says at least the competition. "I think we can get him over the limit now, and then he breaks in at some point," said the overall sixth Emanuel Buchmann. Maybe already on Friday on the roof of the tour, the 2770 meter high Col de l'Iseran.