INEOS’ Carlos Rodriguez stole past the leading pair of Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar over the top of the Col de Joux-Plane and eeked out a narrow win of the Tour de France’s 14th stage on the descent to Morzine. Rodriguez, the 22-year-old debutante at Le Tour, has been the revelation of the race as he secures a second consecutive stage win for his team and snuck past Jai Hindley by a single second for third place overall at the moment. Rodriguez had been temporarily left behind on the Joux-Plane with under 3km remaining as Adam Yates of UAE took over the lead for his teammate Pogacar and distanced everyone but overall leader Jonas Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss. The two nearly-co-leaders (now separated by 10 seconds overall) then took over, with Pogacar taking a lead of under 10 seconds as they ground their way up the fearsome climb. Closer to 1km remaining, Vingegaard fought back to the wheel of Pogacar, who then slowed down presumably to contest the time bonus sprint at the summit. This let Rodriguez and Yates back into the picture, though not in time for the sprint, which was won by Vingegaard after an initial acceleration by Pogacar was blocked by race vehicles.
Once over the top of the last rise, which came after the summit, Rodriguez made contact and immediately accelerated past the leading pair for the descent into Morzine, and they let him go, focusing on each other as they routinely have. Rodriguez never got more than a few seconds’ lead on the downslope, but it was enough to take the stage.
Hindley, meanwhile, had crashed earlier in the day, which may have contributed to his falling off the pace well before Rodriguez did, conceding all of his gap to the Spaniard for the final podium place. There are several mountain stages left as well as the time trial Tuesday to decide all of the podium spots, but for now the margins are impossibly thin.
The battle for overall supremacy might end up being decided by bonuses, with Pogacar picking up a cumulative 41 seconds’ worth of them to Vingegaard’s 23, keeping the margin for yellow to 10 seconds and within striking distance. Pogacar may not be able to separate from the defending winner for long, but he can generate bursts of speed that make it hard for the Dane to contest bonus sprints. Having said that, Vingegaard did just that atop the Joux-Plane, so even there the pair may be more or less even.
Vingegaard has now moved into the lead in the KOM competition as EF Education’s Nielson Powless could not stay with the top climbers over either of the two major ascents in this first Alps region stage.
The stage was marred by an early pair of crashes at significant speed that caused the race to be neutralized for some time and led to several withdrawals, including Romain Bardet, who sustained a concussion, and Louis Meintjes, who like Bardet was in the top 15 on GC.. Esteban Chaves, Ruben Guerreiro, James Shaw, Pedrero were among the abandons as well.
- RODRÍGUEZ Carlos, INEOS Grenadiers, 3:58:45
- POGAČAR Tadej, UAE Team Emirates, at 0:05
- VINGEGAARD Jonas, Jumbo-Visma, s.t.
- YATES Adam, UAE Team Emirates, at 0:10
- KUSS Sepp, Jumbo-Visma, 0:57
- HINDLEY Jai, BORA - hansgrohe, 1:46
- GALL Felix, AG2R Citroën Team, s.t.
- BILBAO Pello, Bahrain - Victorious, at 3:19
- YATES Simon, Team Jayco AlUla, 3:21
- MARTIN Guillaume, Cofidis, 5:57
- VINGEGAARD Jonas, Jumbo-Visma, 57:47:28
- POGAČAR Tadej, UAE Team Emirates, at 0:10
- RODRÍGUEZ Carlos, INEOS Grenadiers, at 4:43
- HINDLEY Jai, BORA - hansgrohe, at 4:44
- YATES Adam, UAE Team Emirates, at 5:20
- KUSS Sepp, Jumbo-Visma, 8:15
- YATES Simon, Team Jayco AlUla, 8:32
- BILBAO Pello, Bahrain - Victorious, 8:51
- GALL Felix, AG2R Citroën Team, 12:26
- GAUDU David, Groupama - FDJ, 12:56
Annemasse - Morzine 151.8 km
We’re hitting the Alps in a big way. Up and down all day and the feared Joux Plane as the final climb. Expect big fights, both for the breakaway and the GC.
Expected finish time: 17:15-17:50 CEST
At the gates of sunshine : Tadej Pogačar
The talk is that this is the perfect Jonas day and Jumbo yesterday were saving up for something big today. In this Tour that seems to be the recipe for the opposite to happen.