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Tour de France: Carapaz moves into Ineos pole position at Mûr-de-Bretagne

LANDERNEAU FRANCE JUNE 26 Micha Kwiatkowski of Poland Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Team INEOS Grenadiers Kasper Asgreen of Denmark and Team Deceuninck QuickStep during the 108th Tour de France 2021 Stage 1 a 1978km stage from Brest to Landerneau Cte De La Fosse Aux Loups 176m LeTour TDF2021 on June 26 2021 in Landerneau France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Speculation over internal hierarchy dominated Ineos Grenadiers' build-up to the Tour de France and, after just two stages, there have been significant developments, with Richard Carapaz leading the way so far. 

Richie Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart were arguably considered the lower two members of the four-man pecking order from the start, but that status was enshrined when both lost time due to crashes on the opening day. 

The two more clear-cut leaders, Carapaz and Geraint Thomas, have avoided any hold-ups but the Mûr-de-Bretagne finish on stage 2 did open up some differences between the pair

After Porte set them up on the lower slopes of the short climb, Thomas lost contact with the reduced group of favourites, while Carapaz remained present and correct, placing 12th on the stage. 

"The stage was complicated. The final was quite nervous and a lot of people wanted to try and attack. For us, the team was there and they did some amazing work into the finish. The pull by Richie Porte was incredible to put us into a good position," Carapaz said.

"It’s a bit of a shame that G lost a few seconds but we remain in the fight and there is a lot to come. We will see little by little, day by day."

The result was something of a role reversal after Carapaz had conceded five seconds on the uphill finish and Landerneau on the opening day. 

In the overall classification, Carapaz lies 18th overall, 31 seconds down on race leader Mathieu van der Poel, while Thomas is 20th, 10 seconds further back. Porte is more than three minutes in arrears, while Geoghegan Hart is at 9:30.

While both Carapaz and Thomas remain in touching distance of most of the overall contenders, it will be of some concern that Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) have slightly distinguished themselves from the rest.

The Slovenian pair, first and second overall last year and Ineos' most dangerous competitors, have been up near the front on both days, snapping up bonus seconds. Pogačar is third overall – 18 seconds up on Carapaz and 28 up on Thomas, with Roglič a single second behind his countryman.

The Tour de France continues this week with two flatter stages that look like opportunities for the sprinters, while the next obvious test for the overall contenders is the stage 5 time trial, which should add more definition to the GC and the Ineos hierarchy.