Tour de France solo breakaway ends in heartbreak for Hirschi

LARUNS FRANCE SEPTEMBER 06 Podium Marc Hirschi of Switzerland and Team Sunweb Most Combative Rider Celebration Trophy during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 9 a 153km stage from Pau to Laruns 495m TDF2020 LeTour on September 06 2020 in Laruns France Photo by Marco Bertorello PoolGetty Images
Tour de France stage 9 most aggressive rider Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The Tour de France (opens in new tab) can be cruel. If two of the three under-25 year-olds in the first group to reach the finish line on stage 9 on Sunday had significant reasons to be satisfied with their outcmoes in Laruns, then the third, 22-year-old Sunweb (opens in new tab) rider Marc Hirschi (opens in new tab), could feel only the bitterest disappointment.

While Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) moved up too second overall and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the stage, Hirschi's third place – his second podium of the race – came after a 90-kilometre breakaway which collapsed almost within sight of the line, a massive blow.

After being reeled in by a GC group made up of Bernal, Pogačar, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren), the former Under-23 World Champion battled hard to stay on terms, and battled on to a sprint finish.

However, despite making a strong acceleration to the line, he was superseded by a Slovenian sprint sandwich, with Pogačar on one side, and Roglič, en route to yellow, on the other.

"It's been a really tough day," was the first thing Hirschi said after his lonely day out front, which saw him enjoy a four-minute gap at one point before cresting the Col de Marie Blanque 15 seconds up, flying down the descent and getting caught 2km frmo the line.

"Today was not like yesterday where they gave time to the breakaway so it was a bit shit," he added. "For sure, I'm super happy with my performance and how it went. But now it's two times really close and once again I got beat so close, so it's not nice.

"On the last climb, I had time, I persevered, and I'm sad I couldn't get away. It's all ended up being for nothing.

Hirschi had already been in one breakaway (opens in new tab) en route to Nice on stage 2 (opens in new tab). He got away with Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Julian Alaphlippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), but would settle for second, there too.

As for Sunday in the Pyrenees, "In the last few kilometres, my team car told me to wait, because I'm not bad at sprinting. So I had hoped to have a chance of winning even after I was caught. But I'll just have to soldier on."

Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston struck a more upbeat note about his young charge's ride, stating that his ride on Sunday has given a taste of what he's capable of in the future.

"I think that all-round it was a super effort. He's come from our development team and worked his way up, making a really nice progression," Winston said.

"He's super disappointed but he's shown what the future holds."

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

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.