Hats off to O’Connor he was really strong and almost took yellow off me. I was a little bit scared of that. It wouldn’t have been the worst thing to lose it but I kind of like the colour. –Tadj Pogacar
By Roger Childs
After nine stages in a row the riders get a well-earned rest day. The week started with Frenchman Julian Alaphillipe taking the yellow jersey on the first stage, however, by week’s end it was on the shoulders of last year’s winner Slovenian Tadej Pogacar.
Mathieu van der Poel from the Netherlands won the second stage in Brittany and held the yellow jersey on the stages eastwards across France to the Alps. As expected the first two rides in the mountain brought the favourites into contention. Along the way there were a number of crashes which forced some riders to abandon, while others, including van der Poel, pulled out to concentrate on preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
In the battle for the sprinters green jersey Englishman Mark Cavendish has a handy lead on points and picked up two stage victories in central France. He now has a total 32 wins only two behind Belgian legend Eddie Mercx.
Pogacar comes through
As expected the Slovenian, who was the over-all winner last year, had an excellent time trial on stage five to move up to second place. Then on the first mountain stage in the French Alps he struck on the last of the four big climbs – the legendary 1605-metre Col de la Colombière. The stage was won by German Dylan Teuns, but Pogacar was only 49 seconds back and minutes ahead of his main rivals.
The following day, on another mountain stage, Australian Ben O’Connor won in the rain but was not fast enough to take yellow off Pogacar. However he has moved up to second, just 2 minutes back in the general classification.
With twelve stages to go Le Tour now moves south-east towards Provence. There are more mountains in the eleventh leg but some flatter stages will give Cavendish a chance to move closer to the record for Tour wins.