Tour de France: Herrada's lone chase of Lutsenko comes up painfully short

GARD FRANCE SEPTEMBER 03 Arrival Jesus Herrada Lopez of Spain and Team Cofidis Solutions Credits Disappointment during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 6 a 191km stage from Le Teil to Mont AigoualGard 1560m TDF2020 LeTour on September 03 2020 in Gard France Photo by Christophe Ena PoolGetty Images
Jesus Herrada (Cofidis) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

A brave lone chase by Jesús Herrada (Cofidis) of Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) in the closing kilometres of stage 6 of the Tour de France on Thursday provided much of what little emotion there was to a somewhat monotonous day’s racing - as the Spaniard battled hard, if in vain, to get back on terms with his Kazakh rival.

Part of the day-long break with Lutsenko, Herrada was dropped on the final first-category climb, but by riding a steady pace, he managed to close the gap to 25 seconds. But Lutsenko then opened up the throttle again, and the chance of Herrada taking Spain’s first Tour de France stage victory this year evaporated completely.

A former national champion who had a near-miss in this year’s Spanish road race, too - he had a mechanical when almost on the point of winning - Herrada already took a stage win in the Vuelta a España, his home Grand Tour, in 2019, and led it for two days in 2018.

But the Cofidis racer recognised that his chances of his first stage victory on Thursday were all but shattered by Lutsenko’s superiority and, though he did his best to pull back, he could not quite succeed.

"It’s a pity that somebody else was stronger, but success comes at a high price in the Tour," the 30-year-old told Spanish radio.

"After yesterday [Wednesday] when we saw there was no break, we saw that we could try and get in one today," he added. "The eight of us that were in the move were very motivated and we rode hard all day. It was still very hard to get away.

"Then on the first-category climb, I decided to keep going at my own pace and I kept going steady, rather than getting overly involved in using up energy in attacks and on the hardest part of the climb, gradually getting past the other guys one by one. But there was one guy I couldn’t catch, I could see him, but he was a little bit stronger.

"It was a great opportunity to go for it" - and take Cofidis first stage win in the Tour since 2008 - "but people have a lot of energy at this point in the race. I will have another go, though, further down the line."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.