George Bennett lost minutes on his rivals and dropped from 9th overall to 11th in stage 13 of the Tour de France.  Warren Barguil made up for his near miss in stage 9 by taking the win in Foix ahead of Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador who saw a revival in form to reignite their GC campaigns.

The stage between Saint-Girons to Foix, while just 101km in length, was always set to be an epic battle as it took the race over three category 1 mountain passes before the finishing descent to the line.  Despite the expected intensity from the GC contenders Sylvain Chavanel of Direct Energie, Alessandro De Marchi of BMC Racing and Philippe Gilbert of Quick-Step Floors were able to detach themselves from the peloton and go up the road.  De Marchi was easily the strongest of the trio though and he crested the summit of Latrape solo while behind him the first GC move was about to be made.

 

Contador lights GC fuse

 

2km from the summit of Latrape Alberto Contador attacked in the company of Team Sky’s Mikel Landa and Sunweb’s Warren Barguil.  The three made it to the lower slopes of the day’s second climb together, with a small advantage over the rest of the GC group, but in the yellow jersey group an attack was made by Nairo Quintana.  Barguil dropped back to the Colombian, leaving Contador and Landa up ahead.  Quintana and Barguil found themselves joined by Michal Kwiatkowski, and together three riders found themselves 30 seconds adrift of Contador and Landa by the summit of the second climb of the day; the Col d’Agnes.

The final climb of the day saw the final lead group take shape.  Contador appeared to be struggling slightly, while Landa remained strong at the head of the race.  Behind them Quintana and Barguil made the catch to form a lead group of four riders – with Kwiatkowski having dropped back – and the quartet held a gap of close to two minutes over the peloton at the top of the final climb of the day; with only the descent to Foix to come.

 

Barguil takes famous Bastille Day win

 

As the kilometres ticked away so too did any opportunity for one of the four to break clear; making it clear that the stage would be decided in the final kilometre.  Landa led the way through the 1km to go banner, with Barguil on his wheel, Quintana and then Contador.  It looked like a question of who would hold their nerve best, as Contador led out the sprint with just under 500m to go.  But the  rest of the group were on to his wheel and after taking the final tight corner quite wide, Barguil came through comfortably to pass Contador and secure a famous Bastille Day victory for Sunweb.  Quintana finished second and Contador third.

After a solid stage 12 of the Tour de France, George Bennett’s top ten campaign faltered on the final climb of the day.  The stage was a tough one for the rest of the GC contenders behind the Quintana-Contador group, with the likes of Chris Froome and Daniel Martin among the most animated in the task of isolating Fabio Aru; who gradually lost his teammates but was able to hold his own in the end.

George Bennett lost significant time and now sits 11th overall, photo Sirotti
Bennett’s challenge falters on final climb

 

On the final climb of the day Bennett was in the yellow jersey group alongside Daniel Martin, Rigoberto Uran, Simon Yates, Chris Froome and Louis Meintjes. At this point Quintana and Barguil were still chasing Contador and Landa, but Contador and Quintana’s presence up the road was challenging the overall position of Bennett by being this far up the road.  That challenge was compounded when Bennett finally cracked.

With the aggression in the yellow jersey group it didn’t take long for a large time gap to build between Froome, Aru, Uran etc, and Bennett who eventually found himself in the next group on the road with Alexis Vuillermoz, Pierre Latour, Diego Ulissi and Damiano Caruso among others.  The Kiwi had lost 2.20mins on the Aru group, but crucially 4.08mins to Quintana and Contador.  That meant that overall Louis Meintjes and Alberto Contador passed Bennett to leave him in 11th place overall, 6.24mins behind Fabio Aru and 1.02mins behind Alberto Contador in tenth place.

 

Bennett – “I just was not good enough today”

 

Afterwards Bennett was straight and to the point about what had gone wrong.  “I just was not good enough today,” he said in a post-race interview.  “The plan was to follow.  I thought I would be stronger in the final because I felt quite good, but on that steep part I had a bad moment.”

“I am disappointed, but there are still eight stages to go.  I have to go full-gas on the Galibier or the Izoard stage.  It is not over yet.  I am going to recover and hope to be there again in a few days in the mountains.”

Tour de France stage 13: RESULTS

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