Tour de France stage 13: Kwiatkowski wins atop Grand Colombier as Pogačar chips away again

Unlikely breakaway success as Pogačar pulls another eight seconds back on Vingegaard

Clock19:41, Friday 14th July 2023
Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) survived from the break to win stage 13 of the Tour de France

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) survived from the break to win stage 13 of the Tour de France

Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) claimed the second Tour de France stage win of his career atop the Grand Colombier, where Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) managed to chip away a little more of his deficit to Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma).

UAE Team Emirates kept the day’s 19-man breakaway on a short leash in an apparent bid to propel Pogačar to the stage win and the complimentary 10 bonus seconds, but they took their eye off the ball ahed of the Grand Colombier and Kwiatkowski punished them.

The former world champion, who crossed the line arm-in-arm with then teammate Richard Carapaz to win a stage of the 2020 Tour, flew up the 17.4km climb in the Jura, passing the early attackers to ride the final 12km alone.

Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) placed runner-up at 47 seconds, a whisker ahead of a flying Pogačar, who looked to rip away from Vingegaard in the final 500 metres. As on the Puy de Dome last Sunday, the two-time champion opened a gap slowly but surely, kicking repeatedly to cross the line four seconds up.

With another four seconds in bonuses for third place, it was a total day’s gain of eight seconds, reducing Vingegaard’s overall lead to just nine seconds ahead of a weekend in the Alps.

“When I entered the breakaway I thought, ‘This is a free ticket to maybe the bottom of the climb,’ but I never thought that this group would fight for the stage win because UAE Team Emirates were pulling pretty hard,” said Kwiatkowski.

“But to be honest, it is not easy to chase 19 guys rotating on the flat for more than 100km. I think they just let too many guys in the front and I just found maybe the best legs I ever had in my life. I didn’t believe that this was possible, but here I am.”

Kwiatkowski initially looked to be struggling as the breakaway stormed onto the Grand Colombier with a lead of just under four minutes, but he looked to be floating as he made his way across to the trio of Van Gils, Harold Tejada (Astana), and James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), itself catching and passing early attacker Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) on the famous hairpinned section.

He quickly accelerated and sailed clear, using a 2km flatter section to take his lead out to a minute with 8km to go, keeping the thinning yellow jersey group at more than two minutes. It would take a further few kilometres for the big moves to come from behind, allowing Kwiatkowski to savour the final kilometre amid the Bastille Day fervour.

“Without [the fans], I guess this would not be possible,” he said. “I didn’t have the car behind me on the last climb so I couldn’t really hear what was happening on the radio, so the fans were amazing and they were driving me to the finish. That is an amazing feeling.”

That first big move from the yellow jersey group came just over 2km from the summit when UAE, having rolled through their mountain train, sent Adam Yates on a sneaky attack. Sepp Kuss quickly took Vingegaard across to it as the group thinned to eight, with Yates continuing to lead until Pogačar decided to hit take-off with 450 metres to go.

He and Vingegaard, as is customary these days, flew clear of the rest, and Vingegaard, as was the case last Sunday, struggled to hold the wheel without cracking completely.

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) finished best of the rest, nine seconds behind Vingegaard and two up on Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), who remains third overall. Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) lost 11 seconds compared to Pidcock, just ahead of his twin brother Adam and Pidcock’s own teammate Carlos Rodríguez.

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) lost a further 25 seconds alongside Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), who dropped two places to seventh as a result. The only other shift on GC was Thibaut Pinot (Grouapma-FDJ) dropping back out of the top 10, and Kuss moving back in.

The breakaway stays away

After Thursday’s chaos, it was another frantic start on the fervour of Bastille Day, with a lively scramble for the breakaway run off at 52kph.

It took 25km of repeated accelerations for the move to go, starting with Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Maxim Van Gils (Lotto-Dstny), and Mike Teunissen (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty). Soon they were joined by a larger group of riders: Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Alberto Bettiol, James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-QuickStep), Matej Mohoric, Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek), Adrien Petit, Georg Zimmerman (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Hugo Houle (Israel-PremierTech), Luca Mozzato (Arkéa-Samsic), Cees Bol, Harold Tejada (Astana Qazaqstan), Anthon Charmig (Uno-X), and Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies).

Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) tried to bridge across but found himself stuck in no-man’s land before drifting back to the bunch, leaving 19 riders in the lead. Hope of competing for stage honours, however, took an early blow as UAE Team Emirates hit the front of the peloton, clearly keen to keep things in check and set up Pogačar later in the day. Led by Vegard Stake Laengen, they kept the gap at a measly two minutes by the half-way mark.

Things remained stable until the uncategorised climb of the Col de la Lèbe - 15km at a gentle gradient - where the breakaway started to lift the tempo. Bol and Petit were quickly dropped, but the rest of the group profited as the gap went out beyond 2:30. At the intermediate sprint half-way up, Teunissen collected maximum points, and the urgency saw them hit the three-minute mark by the top.

A 10km downhill ensued, where Latour’s descending woes struck again. The Frenchman struggled to follow the lines, repeatedly lost the wheel, and found himself 45 seconds down by the end of it, his chances evaporated. The peloton conceded more ground on the descent as UAE put Matteo Trentin to work on the approach to the climb, the break hitting the foot of the Grand Colombier 3:50 in arrears.

The climb immediately bit, with Asgreen and Teunissen instantly dropped before the group blew apart. Pacher attacked early, followed by a trio of Shaw, Tejada, and Van Gils. After 4km, those three made contact with Pacher and unceremoniously dropped him. However, there was another charge from behind as Kwiatkowski, who appeared to be struggling early on, burst over to them and sprang out in front just beyond the famous hairpin bends.

The former world champion opened a lead of half a minute by the flatter section with 10km to go, as Mohoric made it a chasing quartet.

Meanwhile, UAE turned things up through Marc Soler and started to shred the bunch. Half-way up, UAE had four men around Pogačar as Vingegaard was down to just one: Sepp Kuss. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), and Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich) were among those dropped, but they weren’t closing the gap to a flying Kwiatkowski, who still enjoyed three minutes over the yellow jersey group and a minute over his chasers.

Grossschartner upped the tempo after Soler’s turn, as the yellow jersey group reduced to 15 riders, with Rafal Majka taking over 6km from the top. Kwiatkowski was soon to find another flatter kilometre, and held his advantage at 2:25. There was no big shake-up behind, with Kwiatkowski riding into the hordes of fans in the final 2.5km with 1:10 in hand on his pursuers and 2:10 on the GC group - a comfortable margin.

The first big move among the yellow jersey group came at that same point with 2.5km to go, as UAE sent Adam Yates on the attack. Kuss promptly responded on behalf of Vingegaard, Pogačar followed and they briefly gapped the rest before Pidcock, Rodriguez, Hindley, and Simon Yates latched back on. Dropped were Gaudu, Gall, Bilbao, and Meintjes.

As Kwiatkowski kicked off the final kilometre, Adam Yates proceeded to pace the yellow jersey group, teeing up that vicious attack from Pogačar, who breezed past Shaw and Tejada in sight of the line, Vingegaard straining at a couple of bike lengths. It was too late for the stage win, but Pogačar gained just as much time overall as he would have if there’d been no one left out front.

The Tour is even more delicately poised ahead of four huge days in the Alps.

Race Results

1

pl flag

KWIATKOWSKI Michal

INEOS Grenadiers

3H 17' 33"

2

be flag

VAN GILS Maxim

Lotto Dstny

+ 47"

3

si flag

POGACAR Tadej

UAE Team Emirates

+ 50"

4

dk flag

VINGEGAARD Jonas

Jumbo-Visma

+ 54"

5

gb flag

PIDCOCK Tom

INEOS Grenadiers

+ 1' 03"

6

au flag

HINDLEY Jai

BORA-hansgrohe

+ 1' 05"

7

gb flag

SHAW James

EF Education-EasyPost

"

8

co flag

TEJADA Harold

Astana Qazaqstan Team

"

9

gb flag

YATES Simon

Team Jayco-AlUla

+ 1' 14"

10

gb flag

YATES Adam

UAE Team Emirates

+ 1' 18"

Provided by FirstCycling

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