“Yates, Reichenbach and Molard, Roche and Lutsenko formed seminal Grind core collective ‘Trojan Death Overkill’, much favoured by John Peel back in the day,” emails Chris Collinson.”
As we’ve said, riders love to suffer.
Hello! Michael Woods, Omar Fraile and Guillaume Martin join the leaders!
Quintana heads a group 18 seconds off the lead now, and the peloton are 4.37 behind as we near one of the three grade one climbs. The leaders are: Rudy Molard, Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Lennard Kämna, Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Romain Bardet, Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data) and Andrey Amador (Movistar Team).
Er, as I was saying, Quintana has dropped off the leading group, and as the best-placed rider in that collection, the yellow jersey doesn’t look under threat today.
“I’m firmly in the Anyone But Ineos camp,” says an anonymous emailer, “so I’d be delighted if Alaphilippe takes it all the way to Paris. But I wouldn’t call two minutes definitive with so many climbs to come and I’d never underestimate Ineos’s power to sway things their way – especially when they’ve got two in the top five. Let’s also not forget Simon Yates’s fate in the Giro (sorry Simon). Fingers crossed Alaphilippe will do it though!”
Bardet and Amador join the leaders too – there are now eight of them. Meanwhile, Wellens is struggling and has been dropped by the peloton.
Yates, Reichenbach and Molard lead … and now Roche and Lutsenko join them!
The leading group: Gallopin, Caruso, Tratnik, Molard, Reichenbach, Soler, Bilbao, Groendahl Jansen, S. Yates, Geschke, Bernard, Ciccone, Roche and Herrada.
We see Simon Yates putting it in – he’s attacking! Nibali, who looks bushed from yesterday, is in what’s just become a second group of leaders – if that’s possible. Bardet, Quintana, Zakarin and Woods are also there!
“It really comes down to who’s got the legs,” we’re told, and suddenly I find myself singing this.
We’re climbing at Port de Lers; the riders are mainly standing again.
At the front, Politt ploughs on, looking to open up a little lead.
Our next test is on tap as the distance remaining dips below 80km.
The gap to the peloton is now 3.23. Quintana in particular will be loving this.
I mentioned Nîmes earlier, more than enough excuse to post this.
Nico Portal was asked what was said to Geraint Thomas yesterday. “Not much”. More insight as I get it.
The pace has relaxed a little now, as the leaders glide through a village.But now we have an intermediate sprint! Caruso tries to attack, looking to help team-mate Sonny Colbrelli, but Matthews rinses him and Nils Politt.
It’s pretty cloudy in the Pyrenees today, but fear not; in Nîmes, where we’re headed after tomorrow’s rest day, it’s 36-38 degrees. I’m feeling faint just thinking about it.
We’ve got 94.6km to go; there are three climbs in the final 60.
In commentary, they’re wondering whether Alaphilippe has the back-up to get through the Alps, before noting that they’ve been wondering about him all the way through the race and he’s answered every question so far.
Geraint Thomas, meanwhile, is having lunch. He’ll be hoping he’s got more in the tank than yesterday, where he just sor tof expired.
Alexey Lutsenko has a drink. I doubt I’ve ever experienced pleasure so intense in my life.
Frank, Matthews, Sicard, Perichon, Politt, Bouet and Perez have caught up with the lead group. Decent job of work.
112km to go. The first hour was 27km/h for the first hour; it’s slowed a little now, but only a little.
The leading group are now 2.33 ahead of the rest. We see that Alaphilippe is one of them, and he looks pretty chill.
There are 28 riders in the break, and these are they:
Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Bardet and Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali, Damiano Caruso and Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Merida), Rudy Molard and Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Nairo Quintana, Andrey Amador and Marc Soler (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Omar Fraile and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Simon Geschke (CCC), Julien Bernard, Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Lennard Kämna and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), Romain Kreuziger (Dimension Data) and Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Amaël Moinard (Arkéa-Samsic).
The break is nicely installed now, around 30s ahead of the rest, led by Quintana; Nibali is one of those with him. Pinot has stopped for a slash, and Alaphilippe is in the first group behind the leaders.
Konrad, Bardet, Nibali, Caruso goes the psychopathic order as the climb continues. There are a couple more in amongst them, but the gap isn’t significant yet.
They’re standing in the saddle now, as Bardet moves to the front. This might be the moment!
We’re on the Col de Montségur, a second-level climb, and Caruso has been yanked back.
Is Back to the Future the greatest film of the 80s? And of all-time? What it is for sure is perfection.
There’s been a split! Caruso leads everyone, pounding away perhaps 20m away, and the peloton is now in two pieces.
They’ve covered 47km in the first hour. Where’s Mr Strickland when you need him?
King and Poels are now on the attack, but there’s no indication that they’ll get anywhere; we’re 7km from the start of the climb. Good luck, lads.
The climb begins in around 12km, so expect an effective break by then. But you really never know.
Oss makes another move. He looks pretty sprightly, and also kind of spritely.
Nibali is also up the front, but the peloton have pretty much caught up; after 40km, we’re basically where we were when we started, except everyone is in even more pain.