186km to go: More attacks now from the peloton. Küng is trying to get across and he is dragging some other riders with him.
“It looks like a day for a breakaway, but it could go on and on, we could see it [the intense racing] carry on a long way into the stage. It’s a day you have to be careful.”
188km to go: Now Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) have formed a two-man escape group and they have 12” on the peloton. They will no doubt be hoping that some more riders come across and they can form a strong breakaway with a chance of making it to the finish.
In the 2016 Tour, the Belgian rider Theuns crashed in a time trial and broke his back. So it’s great to see him looking so strong here.
at 7.29am EDT
192km to go: Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), who was in the break on Thursday, is attacking at the front. Jérôme Cousin (Total Direct Énergie) is also up there. If some riders were hoping for a nice relaxed start today, it seems those hopes have been dashed. The sports directors in the team cars will be keeping a close eye on who is attacking, and whether or not they are happy with the composition of any potential escape groups.
at 7.24am EDT
Racing on stage 14!
They are off. And they are attacking. De Gendt is up there, as is Cees Bol (Team Sunweb), along with Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). Roger Kluge (Lotto Soudal) is also prominent. By the way, the day’s solitary intermediate sprint comes early in today’s stage, with 156km still to race, so that should make a difference to how this is raced early on.
at 7.26am EDT
194km to go: You get the sense this is going to be very lively. The body language (and/or the bike language) of the riders is tense, and they are rolling fast.
at 7.17am EDT
194km to go: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) rolls along at the front in the 7.8km long neutralised stage. Will he finally make the day’s breakaway today? It looks like he is going to have a go. Hundreds of fans – most wearing masks – line the streets. When the flag drops, we might see a seriously fierce fight to get in the day’s break.
at 7.13am EDT
194km to go: We are rolling in the neutralised zone for Tour de France stage 14. Race leader Roglic, as always, sits at the front looking cool and focused.
There were sensible arguments against holding this race at all, but 13 stages in, no one can deny the racing has been phenomenally entertaining. Yesterday’s stage was a perfect example of the quality on show so far, with a thrilling battle for the day’s win playing out among the breakaway. Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) eventually prevailed in an exhilarating two-man uphill sprint against Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) atop the Puy Mary Pas de Peyrol. And that was after Kamna’s teammate Maximilian Schachmann had tried to ‘do a Hirschi’ with a concerted solo attack late in the stage.
Behind all of that breakaway drama, Ineos lobbed their first grenades of the 2020 Tour, taking it up late on a day of seven categorised climbs and trying to put all their GC rivals including Jumbo-Visma under pressure, and perhaps set Egan Bernal up for the stage win on what was the hardest day of climbing so far.
But after much talk of Jumbo-Visma doing much work for little reward in the first 10 days, it was Ineos who seemed to fall into that trap yesterday, as Bernal cracked on the final ascent. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) rode off together, stamping their authority on the GC race and putting half a minute each into the defending champion Bernal. It seemed Ineos’s grenade had exploded in their own hands.
In a further instalment of drama, French hope Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) were forced to abandon the race after a crash, Bardet suffering from concussion, while Bardet’s teammate Benoît Cosnefroy stayed in control of the king of the mountains classification and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) laboured over the climbs to keep on course for the maillot vert.
All of which brings us to today, and a 194km trip from Clermont-Ferrand to Lyon. After a draining day yesterday, five categorised climbs await the peloton. The toughest is the second of the day, the category-two, 10.2km long Col du Béal, which peaks after 68km of racing. It looks ripe for a breakaway, and could be difficult for the GC teams to control, although both Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates will have been heartened by their leaders’ time gains yesterday. Tomorrow’s monster stage with two category-ones and a hors-categorie climb of the Grand Colombier at the end will be looming large in the riders’ minds, too, so if they can find a way to make this day any easier they probably will do. But on this unique, Covid-19 affected Tour, they’ve been racing like there’s no tomorrow maybe today will be no different.
at 7.06am EDT