The Dane’s presence up the road was slightly unusual given he is a key domestique for Deceuninck-QuickStep, who currently lead the race through Julian Alaphilippe. Asgreen is not a mountain domestique but can climb – he won an uphill finishto Lake Tahoe at the Tour of California in May – and, in a team largely built around sprinter Elia Viviani, will be relied upon as Alaphilippe fights to defend his jersey in the Alps.
On the long stage to Gap on the eve of the Alpine trio of stages, Asgreen wasn’t resting up in a peloton that coasted in 20 minutes behind the break. He was up front and made a play for the stage win.
At the finish, Asgreen admitted it hadn’t been in the team’s briefing for a rider to go in the break.
"I’m quite happy with that. It was a great day out and I’m happy the team believed in me and let me stay out front even though it was not the plan to have somebody in the breakaway today," Asgreen told Cyclingnews.
"They basically told me try to stay there, see how it goes, if it keeps turning for a long time and you get close to the finale, you can do finale, but if race opens up early you have to drop back because we don’t want you to spend so much energy."
Asgreen sat in the wheels in the break, with various members of the group commenting that he wasn’t contributing to the workload up front. When it was clear the break would play out the stage honours and the peloton would roll home behind, he started to think about racing rather than following.
Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked early on the late category-3 climb and won solo in Gap. Asgreen attacked from a chase group just over a kilometre from the top and led a solo pursuit on the descent but was unable to get near Trentin and settled for second.
"I was not the biggest favourite in that group so it was up to the other guys to close that gap when Trentin went," Asgreen argued.
"I felt I had the power to make an attack a kilometre or so from the top, and that’s what I did. I’m quite satisfied with my race."
Asgreen has been impressive in his first Tour de France and indeed in his first full season at WorldTour level. He has been a constant figure on the front of the peloton, chasing down breakaways, and he had to come back from a heavy crash on stage 3 that snapped his bike.
Despite all the kilometres he’s spent pulling the peloton, Asgreen felt he still had something in the tank for a breakaway effort, and hopes he’ll still be of use for Alaphilippe in the Alps from Thursday to Saturday.
"Well, I love bike racing, so if I can, iI’m going to race," Asgreen said of his decision to go up the road.
"I am, of course, pretty tired – we’re in the last week of the Tour. I hope I will have some energy left for the next three days in the Alps. For sure they’re going to be tough and hard days."
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