Astana's Jakob Fuglsang wasn't ready to rule out a top-five finish – or even a spot on the podium – at this year's Tour de France after finishing 10th on stage 14 to the Col du Tourmalet, ending the day in eighth overall, 5:22 down on race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
The Dane finished the stage alone, 53 seconds behind stage winner Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), after having dropped off the pace of the lead group with just 1.5km to go, with defending Tour champion Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) also dropped shortly afterwards.
"Overall, it went quite well," Fuglsang told reporters at the finish. "I was feeling quite good today, but the hard accelerations in the last two kilometres killed me a bit, and I paid for that. In the end, I was suffering in the last 1.5-2km to the finish line, but I wasn't the only one.
"It was the first big test, and the first time the GC guys really got to battle it out. All in all, I'm quite satisfied, as it could have been worse, but of course it could always be better – unless you win," he said.
That winner was Groupama-FDJ's Thibaut Pinot, who finished six seconds ahead of Alaphilippe, who in turn extended his overall race lead over Thomas by 36 seconds to now lead the race by 2:02.
Fuglsang pointed to Jumbo-Visma – the team of third-placed Steven Kruijswijk – as having had a good day on the 19-kilometre climb up the Tourmalet to the finish, but pointed out that the race is still wide open with another stage to come in the Pyrenees on Sunday before the race heads towards the Alps after Monday's rest day.
"Jumbo were super-strong," Fuglsang said. "They were the strongest team today. Ineos were a bit more on their knees, and I was surprised to see Michal Kwiatkowski get dropped on the first climb. They seem to be a bit more under pressure [than in previous years]. But it's a new day tomorrow, and it's cycling. Anything can happen."
Asked how he expected the rest of his Tour to unfold, 34-year-old Fuglsang indicated that he felt his chances of a good overall finish were a long way from over.
"I'm still hoping to do something great in this Tour," he said. "I'm trying to move up on the GC, and I managed to move up a bit today. But of course I have to be better than today if I want to finish in the top five – and I'm even dreaming of making the podium. The Tour is still long, so we'll see."
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