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TOUR REPORT STAGE 14

CLERMONT-FERRAND > LYON

There has been a youthful feeling to this year’s Tour de France and that continued on stage 14 when Søren Kragh Andersen crossed the line solo in Lyon. At 26 years old, the Dane is a familiar face in the peloton – at least, more familiar than his prodigious stage-winning team-mate Marc Hirschi, 22 – but has never won a race of this magnitude before.

His victory was in part a team effort. The marauding black and white jerseys of Team Sunweb seemed to dominate the finale of the stage, with Hirschi, Tiesj Benoot and Casper Pedersen all involved in the flurry of attacks that eventually allowed Andersen to break free. That being said, it still took strength and guile to time the move so well, and to hold on solo for the line.

With an average age of 26, Sunweb is the youngest team in the race, but there are fresh faces everywhere in the peloton. Stage winners Wout van Aert and Nans Peters are 25 and 26 respectively, while the second and third-placed riders overall are both eligible for the white jersey also.

The stage began in chaotic fashion with full-gas racing from Bora-Hansgrohe, who had the aim of stopping Sam Bennett from scoring any more points in the green jersey competition. The Irishman clung on as best he could, but after more than a hundred kilometres of brutal pace-making, he eventually gave up the chase. This, in theory, left the way open for Peter Sagan to clean up at the finish.

Sunweb had other plans and Sagan only managed fourth on the stage, clawing back 23 points in the classification to close the gap to 43. He still has a few stages left, but the big mountains loom, where the sprinters’ minds switch from scoring to surviving.

It was ‘all quiet’ on the general classification front, as the riders with designs on the yellow jersey kept their powder dry. Team Bahrain McLaren brought Mikel Landa home safely, with Damiano Caruso doing the shepherding. The tough finale was tailor made for a rider like Sonny Colbrelli’s strengths and he duly delivered a top ten result. It will be intriguing to see what Landa does on the Grand Colombier, the final climb of the second week of the Tour. It’s a ‘true’ mountain and should suit his natural strengths perfectly.

 

Thanks to Russ Ellis and Chris Auld for capturing the race. See more of their work on Instagram @cyclingimages & @cauldphoto.