The break now has 3’51” and Van Avermaet is the virtual leader of the Tour.
Sam Bewley is motoring on the front of the peloton for Mitchelton-Scott. They have had the word from the team car that it’s time to start riding and protecting that yellow jersey.
at 6.45am EDT
Over three minutes for the break now. The elastic has officially snapped.
at 6.42am EDT
“I’m pretty motivated, the weather is nice, it will be complicated to take the jersey back but I’ll see how today goes. If I am feeling good I will give it a try,” Alaphilippe is quoted as saying on Eurosport.
Van Avermaet is the best-placed rider on GC in the break. He is 3’17” down on Yates, the jersey wearer.
The peloton has settled down and a few riders are stopping for ‘natural breaks’.
Philipp Lohan emails: “Just wondering, Luke, on the back of yesterday’s uneventful stage, whether anyone in the peloton is wearing the red number as the previous day’s most aggressive driver? Or could the jury not determine a worthy wearer?”
Thanks for the email Philipp. Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) got the nod yesterday, because he is riding with a broken rib and a damaged lung – I will take a wild guess that he sustained the injuries on that pile-up late on stage one. Chapeau to him.
The gap has fairly raced out to 1’53”. This eight-man break has created a decisive gap.
at 6.38am EDT
at 6.33am EDT
The gap has flown out to 32” as the break works very well together up front.
Now it’s 38” …
I should mention the other jersey-wearers – Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale- leads the KOM standings while Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) leads the best young rider classification.
at 6.31am EDT
Roche grimaces with effort and flicks his elbow before Powless comes to the front. These eight riders at the front are desperately trying to stay away … and the gap is back out to 17 seconds.
By the way, it seems that the wind is expected to be a factor on today’s stage. So even if a break does form, there could still be plenty of nervousness in the peloton behind, for the whole stage. To be fair, they did have a nice easy day yesterday, as Roche himself said …
at 6.27am EDT
The eight-man break: Roche (Team Sunweb), Powless (EF Pro Cycling), Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling), Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Herrada (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) and Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team).
“Everyone is motivated after an easy day yesterday, I will be be in the battle [for the break],” Roche told Eurosport before this stage.
The gap is back down to eight seconds, so the peloton doesn’t seem to be happy with the make-up of this break.
at 6.24am EDT
We have an eight-man break now. Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) is up there too. They have 15 seconds. Lively stuff.
Birthday boy Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) has joined the break, as has Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling). And the breakaway is growing … more riders are coming across. Any more of this, and it will be the break of the day.
at 6.18am EDT
Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team), Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) have joined Roche at the front. A very strong quartet, and they only have 12 seconds’ gap at the moment.
at 6.16am EDT
Christian Prudhomme, the race director, has waved his flag and we are off and racing. Good news too – we are actually racing. The Irishman Nico Roche is off the front for Team Sunweb already. Clearly he fancies being in a break and having a crack at the stage win.
at 6.13am EDT
There’s nothing quite like a nice, juicy controversy at the Tour de France – especially when it erupts after the most soporific stage in memory, Wednesday’s breakaway-free stage five between Gap and Privas. The eventual winner, Wout Van Aert, called it “probably the easiest stage I ever did in a cycling race.”
The remarkable Van Aert certainly made the finish look easy, freestyling to victory for Jumbo-Visma off the back of Team Sunweb’s exemplary lead-out for their sprinter Cees Bol, and that appeared to be that. But news quickly emerged that race leader Julian Alaphilippe had been penalised by the race jury for taking a bottle inside the final 20km. Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Frenchman was unceremoniously dumped down to 16th in GC, having been docked 20 seconds, meaning Adam Yates of Mitchelton-Scott was elevated into the maillot jaune for the first time in his career.
The idea that any team would deliberately lose 20 seconds on GC for a rider in the yellow jersey ‘to take the pressure off’ seems ludicrous if you ask me, but that’s what plenty of people have been suggesting, such was the magnitude of the mistake made by Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who are usually such a well-drilled winning machine. It seems particularly far-fetched when you consider how tight the GC battle is promising to be, but that will teach me for reading Twitter in the aftermath of a Tour de France controversy, I suppose.
All of which brings us to today, and a 191km trip from Le Teil to Mont Aigoual which starts flat and ends very lumpy indeed. Britain’s Yates is in yellow and Sam Bennett is the green jersey – the first Irishman in 31 years to wear it. With three categorised climbs culminating with the category-one Col de la Lusette, where there are eight, five and two bonus seconds available for the first three riders across the line. That’s not the end of the story, either, with 14km still to race after the summit of the final categorised climb.
Will an angry Alaphilippe unleash the fury on the slopes of the Col de la Lusette, grab maximum bonus seconds on offer plus a few more, and ride himself back into the yellow jersey? Will the bookies’ favourite Primoz Roglic lay down another mountain-stage marker and show his GC rivals who’s boss? Will Adam Yates (who said last night he had already been targeting today’s stage to take yellow) go for the stage victory with the yellow jersey already on his back? Will there be a mad fight for the breakaway early in the stage? Strap yourselves in, we are about to find out.
at 6.05am EDT