The key events:
Primoz Roglic, who served as super-domestic to Jonas Vingaard in the Jumbo-Visma team, has retired, reportedly to try to win his fourth consecutive Vuelta a Espanā. It starts on August 19.
“To allow my injuries to heal properly, we have decided that I will not start,” he said in a statement. “I’m proud of my contribution to the current standings and I’m confident the team will deliver on our yellow and green ambitions. Thank you all for your great support.
He “suffered a lot all day,” said team manager Richard Plugge de Roglic during Saturday’s stage. It was during the fifth stage that Roglic, second in 2020, went down, dislocated his shoulder and then put it back on himself.
Roglic could equal Roberto Heras’ all-time victory if he wins a fourth Vuelta.
This tweet shows the ripples of today’s sceneall culminating in the beautiful fortified city of Carcassonne.
Two Covid withdrawals we know of so farand Simon Clarke and Magnus Cort won stages earlier in Le Tour.
Jeremy Whittle watched Michael Matthews ride to victory at an airfield on Saturday.
Matthews, who until his last success had been the rider with the most top-three, top-five and top-10 finishes but hadn’t won a stage on the Grand Tour since 2019, finally crashed his reputation as almost the man of the peloton with a solo victory at the aerodrome of Mende, high in Lozère.
With temperatures reaching the mid-30s, team cars and road assistants could barely keep up with requests for cold drinks and ice. After a first wave of attacks led by defending champion Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) died out, a 23-rider breakaway including Matthews, Bettiol and Pinot built a lead of more than 10 minutes.
William Fotheringham wrote this week‘s Observer of the dominance of the Jumbo-Visma team.
Vingaard’s win was also a rare example of a decisive Tour stage where team tactics worked to perfection, admittedly aided by the reduction in numbers of Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates squad by the Covid-19 virus. 19. However, it had already been evident several times during the first week that the team might not be up to the task before them.
When Wout van Aert attacked to win the Calais stage, the United Arab Emirates could not put numbers around Pogacar. The same thing happened on the cobblestone road in Arenberg the next day, when the strength of young Slovenians masked their weakness. Similarly, when Van Aert launched his unsuccessful long-range attack en route to Longwy the following morning, two of Pogacar’s men could not contain the raging peloton halfway through the stage.
It’s been a long wait for sprinters on Le Tour, which has spent the last two weeks up and down in the Alps, and being transported through puncher stages like this on Saturday, when Michael Matthews, apparently a sprinter, showed his courage by eliminating a escape of climbers. A breakaway today is a possibility, depending on the remaining legs in the teams, but the plan will be to set up the shredded remnants of the sprint teams to deliver a finish. And then Wout van Aert of the dominant Jumbo-Visma team will likely win as Jonas Vingaard and Tadej Pogacar remain close to each other in the peloton.
That, however, would suggest that Le Tour was something like predictable, and this year has been full of surprises. Per William Fotheringham before the race.
On paper, today favors – finally – the sprint teams, but they will have to fight a fierce battle to control things, with a long third category climb with 50 km to go. The sprinters haven’t had a clean sprint day since stage four, so won’t want to miss this one: let’s hope enough teammates survived the Alps to stick together.