The steepest part of the climb of Puy Mary is just two kilometres long, but it proved more than sufficient for 2020 Tour de France leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) to make his most impressive move yet towards winning the race outright.
As soon as Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) accelerated away on the ascent, just as the road’s gradient moved into double figures, Roglič was on his wheel, while their rivals were left scattered all over the mountainside behind them.
The stage win had long fallen to Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) by that point, but when Roglič and Pogačar crossed the line in 12th and 13th on the stage, the damage the Slovenian duo had inflicted was clear. They picked up 13 seconds on closest chaser Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), with the rest of their rivals struggling to limit their losses.
In the lead since Sunday, Roglič has – in the space of one climb – now stretched his previous overall advantage from 21 seconds on Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) to over double that. Pogačar is now second overall, 44 seconds down on Roglič, while Bernal is now third at 59 seconds.
Before stage 13, there were six riders within a minute of Roglič's lead, but now there are just two. The men who struggled at Puy Mary have much to consider – if Roglic and Pogačar can deliver such a big blow on a climb that short, how much worse will it be in the Alps?
The reshuffling of the GC sees Slovenian riders sit in first and second, while Colombian riders – Bernal, Rigoberto Urán, Nairo Quintana and Miguel Ángel López – occupy the next four places overall.
Asked if it had been a day for the Slovenians or for the Colombians, Roglič answered: “It depends how you look at it. For me, it a was Slovenian day, I’m super happy with the way it went. I’m also super happy there are two Slovenians in front of the Colombians.”
As for the five kilometre climb itself that broke open the Tour, Roglič said he had looked up at the summit from the foot of the ascent and thought to himself, “Uff, that’s going to hurt. It was just full gas, all on the limit, everybody trying to get to the top as soon as they could. I had to make a big effort, I’m just super happy I could get a result that was good for me.”
Although Pogačar made the opening move, it was notable that Roglič was the man on the front all the way to the finish, suggest that if Pogačar is more explosive, Roglič may well be his match when it comes to sustaining a high pace on the climbs.
Roglič was diplomatic about whether he felt Bernal or Pogačar was now his biggest rival. While he formed an alliance with Pogačar at Puy Mary, of course, there may well come a point where the youngster becomes his biggest challenger.
“The Tour is still not finished, and a lot of things could still happen. There are a lot of different scenarios out there,” Roglič said.
“I don’t want to bother myself with thinking about that, if I just focus on me, then for sure I’ll be happy with whatever place we get.”
It is true that the Tour is far from over, and Roglič has yet to gain a definitive advantage, but the critical ten minutes of hard action on the extinct volcano of Puy May felt like the race’s biggest turning point in its two weeks to date.
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