the confirmation of Cofidis, the tribute to Gino Mäder, the annoying bikes… What we liked and disliked about the second week

The second week of the Tour concluded on Sunday at the summit of Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, with the victory of Wout Poels.

After a first week that ended atop the Puy-de-Dôme, the Tour de France riders crossed France from west to east during the second, to arrive in Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc on Sunday 16 July. Ended by an alpine triptych, this week saw Cofidis win a second time, the two favorites once again surrendering blow for blow, despite a bike that hindered Tadej Pogacar on Saturday. Here’s what we liked and what we didn’t like about this second week.

We liked it

Cofidis does double duty

If the French teams have been a bit disappointing since the beginning of the Tour, not helped by the very high pace imposed by Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates, Cofidis, a team from the north, who had already won its first stage victory on the Grande Boucle from 2008 in San Sebastián (Spain) with Victor Lafay, this time he waited only 10 days to savor once again the joy of seeing one of his riders raise his arms at the finish line. Ion Izagirre won alone in Belleville-en-Beaujolais on stage 12, rewarding the panache of his team, which regularly places a rider in front.

Breathtaking suspense for victory

Of course, barring big surprises, the yellow jersey will only be contested between two riders, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. But the battle between the two favorites is very close, much more than the gap of 53 seconds captured by the Dane on the Slovenian on the evening of the fifth stage in Laruns could have led to believe. Since then, Tadej Pogacar has been placing sharp attacks to buy time and on Saturday evening he was back to within ten seconds of Jonas Vingegaard, the closest gap between the top two at this stage of the Grande Boucle for 14 years. The two leaders were neutralized in Saint-Gervais on Sunday.

Pello Bilbao’s tribute to Gino Mäder

What better tribute to a deceased teammate than standing on the Tour de France podium by dedicating a stage victory to him? In the tenth stage, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Vittorioso), winner in Issoire, transcended himself to honor the memory of Gino Mäder. “This victory is for Gino. I wanted to do something for him in this Tour”, said the Basque. That night, Pello Bilbao made a big contribution to the kitten he started, as he pays one euro to an environmental association for every rider who finishes behind him on each stage, and doubles the sum for a stage win, as Gino did Mäder during the Tour of Spain in 2021.

We liked it least

The motorcycle rip-off that could cost you dearly

This is the event that marked the end of the second week. On Saturday, very close to the summit of the Col de Joux Plane, scene of the final of stage 14, Tadej Pogacar was hampered in his attack by two following bikes. The Slovenian, who had leapt to take a second lead at the summit, had to reduce his efforts.

Excluded from the following day’s stage, the bikes played an important role in spite of themselves in the scenario of the race, even if Tadej Pogacar was a good protagonist at the finish line. “Well, I fired a blank cartridge, that’s how it is. We’ll try again later.” he reacted. However, this fact of the race could have serious consequences in a race “which will play in a few seconds”according to UAE manager Mauro Gianetti.


A plate of featherless sprinters

While Jasper Philipsen mercilessly laminated all the sprints in this edition, he is now lifted by two of his main competitors. Caleb Ewan, who had been on the podium twice, had to sit out stage 13 when the high mountain was announced. Fabio Jakobsen, who was carrying the penalty from the fall on the Nogaro circuit (4th stage), had thrown in the towel the day before, not starting the 12th stage. Already an overwhelming bearer of the green jersey (144 points ahead of second placed Mads Pedersen), Jasper Philipsen has all it takes to take him to Paris for the first time without too much suspense.

The Grand Colombier, wet firecracker

The first stage in the Alps, awaited after several transition stages, arrived on Friday at the top of the Grand Colombier, had all the credentials to launch the big maneuvers: public ready to jump, stifling heat and a superb passage that winds its way to unfold. among the favourites. In the end nothing happened. Michal Kwiatkowski did well on his own for 10 kilometres, quickly killing any suspense for the stage win, the favorites barely budging. Only Tadej Pogacar shook the coconut tree to scratch Jonas Vingegaard for a few seconds, but the Slovenian also waited for the last hectometres. In 2020 he was already the one who had arranged a group of a few runners in the sprint, far from the expected fireworks.

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