Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from stage 13 of the Tour de France.
We are in Nîmes this morning and the roll out for the stage takes place in about an hour from now. Ahead of us, 219.9km all the way to Carcassonne.
This stage has been designated as 'flat' but it's anything but. There's a fourth cat climb in the first hour or so of racing but the reality is that this stage is up and down all day and it looks perfect for a breakaway. There's also the threat of cross-winds once again, so it's going to be a really tough day to control for the sprinters' squad. Here's our full preview for the stage.
This looks like a standard 'transition' stage between the Alps and the Pyrenees, an ideal day for a breakaway to slip away from the peloton early on in the stage, build up a big enough lead to ensure they stay clear, and then dispute the day’s spoils between them.
Yet, this corridor between the rugged interior of the Occitanie region and the Mediterranean/Pyrenees is one of Europe’s most consistently windy areas, so the scenario may not prove to be as straightforward as this.
Here's how things stand on GC:
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 47:22:43
2 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo 0:05:18
3 Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 0:05:32
4 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 0:05:33
5 Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 0:05:58
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:06:16
7 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 0:06:30
8 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 0:07:11
9 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 0:09:29
10 Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:10:28
We are about 20 minutes from the roll out on stage 13 of the Tour de France.
Tadej Pogačar, the race leader, lost time in crosswinds not too far from here back in 2020, so there's a real threat to today's stage and it should be another tense opening hour as the break starts to form. On paper, this was the day for the break and yesterday to Nimes was a day for the sprinters, so it's been an unpredictable last few days to say the least.
That news about the extension of the 3km rule comes from the fact that we have a really technical run-in to the finish. Good decision and one that should be implemented more often. Fingers, toes, and everything else crossed that we have a safe stage.
We're in the neutralized zone already and Pogacar, in yellow is at the front. He and his team will need to be attentive once again today.
Alaphilippe at the back today, which is fair given the fact that he's been in the break two days running. He might be needed in the finale though if his team are going to lead Mark Cavendish to victory. The man in green is just one behind Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage wins. Incredible.
Just two kilometers from the moment when Prudhomme appears from the sun roof and gives the start to stage 13 of the Tour de France. Chris Froome at the front... Could he try and get in the break today?
Mads Pedersen also near the front too. Trek have been really active in the race so far but are still looking for a stage win in this year's race. Can the former world champion deliver?
Durbridge near the front and he has Matthews on his wheel. Cavendish is right near the front too.
Carapaz had a flat so we might have a slightly delayed start to the stage.
Prudhomme has appeared. He's on the radio...
And we are racing on stage 13 of the Tour de France. AG2R kick things off with the first attack.
Durbridge marks the move, while Alaphilippe is still at the back and hoping for a really gentle start.
Not much action from QuickStep at the moment, and you'd think they would want to mark the early moves. The pace drops for a moment and then De Gendt has a pop.
Cross-tailwind right now and EF are putting the hammer down as more attacks fly off the front.
Another Lotto Soudal rider kicks off the front but he's matched almost instantly and with 214km to go we're all back together again. The bunch has string out though with the heavily bandaged Carlos Verona Quintanilla at the bad.
It's hot today, around 30 degrees, as De Gendt goes again. We could have echelons any second now because the wind is coming from the right to the left. Pogacar needs to move up because he's quite far back.
Two spectators right in the middle of the road get out of the way just in time as we see QuickStep hit the front and cause a bit of a split.
There's a group of about 15 riders off the front with Mohoric, Asgreen, Froome and Stuyven among those up there. It's a really good group and Pogacar is forced to take a few turns.
Pogacar and Cavendish are chasing at the front right now, with Colbrelli in the fold too. This move has come back together though with 209km to go.
The wind is more of a tailwind now as we change direction but it's going to change again soon enough. Two more riders attack.
205km to go
Just over 205km to go and still no break, as the pace just eases for a moment. It doesn't last though as a flurry of attacks follow.
Pedersen has gone clear and he's been joined by two riders.
Just three riders? If that's the case we'll have a bunch sprint. It's a headwind now.
All back together but Intermache go again. Once more that attack has been shut down.
Two riders off the back with mechanicals but right now the pace is up again as the bunch lines out once more. Qhubeka NextHash have been really aggressive so far in the stage as Naesen has a mechanical now.
Greg Van Avermaet is the next rider to hit the front and once more Qhubeka NextHash attack. 194km to go.
Quickstep are marking more and more attacks now as a rider from Total Energie skips clear.
Qhubeka NextHash and ISN make it a three-man move again.
193km to go and this could be the break of the day as Quickstep hog the entire road.
The three leaders have 34 seconds with 191km to go and still no reaction from the peloton.
190km to g
Cavendish and his team will not be happier, because this perfectly suits their needs. An Intermarche rider who was blocked finally is allowed to clear but he has a two minute gap to close, which is going to really, really tough.
Georg Zimmermann is the rider chasing on his own but the gap is 2'28 now. This is going to be tough.
Breaking news: Jakobsen extends Deceuninck-QuickStep contract to 2023
183km to go
The isn't extending to anywhere near like a threatening level with the three leaders only 2'08 clear of the field.
4'15 now for the trio up front as Pogacar is protected by Formolo near the back of the peloton. 176km to go.
Deceuninck-QuickStep hit the front and start to set the pace but they have help from Alpecin Fenix, who also want a sprint for Jasper Philipsen today. The Belgian has been really close on a number of occasions in this year's Tour de France, but he's still looking for his first stage win.
In other news, Pogacar's management aren't too keen to discuss the rider’s dominance in this year's Tour – saying that his numbers are similar to last year and that crashes have robbed the race of a better competition. That latter part seems fair. I’ve no idea on the data point.
But the aspect of questioning or at least rationalizing performances at the Tour has thrown up a considerable debate given that Pogacar’s clear-cut domination in the time trial and Alps was followed by a far less robust performance when the nature of his rides – given the context of the sport’s history - were raised at his rest-day press con. I believe he was asked one question on the matter and then the press con was called to a halt. Anyways, here’s the subject again with the team management on Thursday in a story with AS.
The questions over a rider's performances and his/her thoughts towards doping are valid if done in the right manner. And given the history the Tour has with the shady side of the sport, it's only right that the wearer of the yellow jersey is asked about his stance towards clean sport and his rides. It might seem repetitive, like every Tour winner is asked those questions, but they’re important, as it’s an opportunity for the press to get riders on the record about the topic. And it’s a chance for the riders to give their opinions and stance.
There have been arguments that Pogacar is simply ‘naïve’ and a kid (he’s 22) – and that criticism over his answers isn’t fair. Alarmingly these are positions that I’ve seen taken up by some members of the cycling media. Thankfully those views are easily discredited when you see those same people referring to riders by their nicknames, like they are friends or supporters. Nah.
Journalists should ask their valid questions, be skeptical yet respectful, and they shouldn’t forget where this sport has been before.
170km to go
170km to go and Cavendish's entire team are on the front with the gap at 4'21. The break are now on the Côte du Pic Saint-Loup, the fourth cat climb on the route.
The three leaders have 1.3km to go on the climb. Latour is the most decorated rider in the break having won a stage in the 2016 Vuelta a Espana but I thought he'd won a stage in the Tour ahead of Robert Gesink but that's someone else... can't remember who. He was the white jersey in the Tour though in 2018 but hasn't really kicked on since then. He was sitting in the top ten during the first week but he's fallen by the wayside after the TT and the Alps.
Lilian Calmejane! It was him.
Anyway LaTour is first over the top of the climb and he picks up a single point.
The bunch are on the climb now and Tim Declercq is tapping out the pace once again. The 32-year-old hasn't won a major bike race in his career, but he's devoted his skillset to others and is on balance is probably the best domestique in the world right now.
Cavendish is just sitting a few wheels back at the moment and just holding the pace of his teammates on the climb, while Pogacar and his team sit a few wheels further back.
Another rider who hasn't won a major race is Sean Bennett. He's a decent rider and is in the break today flying the flag for his team. The 25-year-old bounced around a bit during the early years of his career but he graduated through Alex Merckx's Axeon outfit - so you know he has the talent and attitude for this level.
Omer Goldstein was the 2020 national champion for Israel and like Bennett he's racing his first Tour de France. 158km to go and the gap to the break is at 4'13.
We have an intermediate sprint at Fontes coming up later on today as we see QuickStep and Vakoc patrol the front of the peloton. 4'05 for the break.
Here's some of Jakobsen from this morning's press release:
"I'm so satisfied to continue with the Wolfpack," Jakobsen said.
"I'd like to thank Patrick, the staff and all the sponsors for their fantastic support. I'm looking forward to the upcoming two years, to get back to winning races with my teammates, step by step."
"Right now, I'm in Livigno, preparing for my next goals. I'm grateful for where I am now and for having such an amazing team around me, a team that supported and helped me develop since turning pro in 2018, and I'll continue to work hard to achieve my goals."
It's good to see him getting another gig at the team that have backed him during his long recovery from the awful crash he was part of last year.
Bennett tucking into some lunch right now, which seems like a good idea. 3'45 for the gap right now.
141km to go
We're 25km from the intermediate sprint. The break will take the bulk of the points but if we're to have a battle for the green jersey then Matthews and Colbrelli can't afford to let Cavendish extend his current lead in the competition. Cavendish currently leads Matthews by 59 points in the standings.
Tim Declercq has the break at 3'03 now and we still have 134km to go. We could have some cross-wind action later in the race but right now we're heading towards a bunch sprint, where Cavendish will be gunning for his 34 Tour de France stage win.
The green jersey is comfortably sitting on Julian Alaphilippe's wheel as we gently roll along towards that all-important intermediate sprint point.
Cavendish did have this to say about Marianne Vos, who yesterday won her 30th stage in the Giro Donne - that in itself is an incredible milestone. Here's what Cavendish had to say regarding Vos and her achievement.
The leaders are really fighting a losing battle out there with gap well under three minutes now. At some point the bunch will need to ease up or they will catch the trio well before the finale. I can imagine the gap will come down even more until we're through the intermediate before then extending again.
A few more teams have started to move up and they include Astana, EF and Jumbo Visma.
Iván García Cortina has a rear wheel flat but then settles for a complete bike change. He's been quiet in this year's Tour de France to be honest - especially given his talent and the profile of a number of stages suiting him. He's not really set the world on fire since moving to Movistar but sometimes it does take time to settle. Still, plenty more stages to come in this year's race.
3km to go for the three leaders until we hit the intermediate sprint. They'll just roll through without competing for the points but the battle for fourth will be different sprint entirely.
Cortina just makes it back to the bunch as we see Mads Pedersen drop back to the team car as well.
Durbridge is bringing Matthews towards the front of the main field. Cavendish is there too, as Matthews and Colbrelli have a bit of a natter.
Didn't expect that but Bennett has gone for the points. He's marked by Goldstein though with 200m to go.
He went too soon and Goldstein takes 20 points with Bennett second and Latour third. The main field are at 2'42 with 115km to go.
The sprint isn't quite flat and it kicks up a bit so can Colbrelli and Matthews take advantage?
Colbrelli and then Matthews with Cavendish two or three places further back.
That sprint will see Cavendish's lead in the green jersey shrink slightly but we saw this a few days ago but he came back, won the stage and extended his lead as a result.
11km to go and the gap has gone back out with the break 3'04 clear of the peloton.
Don't think Petr Vakoč gets the credit he deserves as a rider. He's been on the front day in, day out for Alpecin Fenix and has helped set up sprints too for his teammates. He's at it again today as Jasper Philipsen hopes to take his maiden Tour de France stage win.
More from Merckx on Cavendish's.
“Of course there’s a difference between us,” Merckx pointed out to La Gazzetta dello Sport, still competitive even at 76.
“I won 34 Tour stages by winning sprints, in the mountains, in time trials and going on the attack on the descents. Let's not forget the five yellow jerseys I’ve got at home plus the 96 days I wore it. Does that not seem much?
“Naturally I’m not trying to play down what he’s achieved. Also because he’s been through a difficult time and has fallen in love with cycling again. That’s a great message for young people in the sport.”
104km to go
Valentin Madouas is at the back right now and waiting for his team car, presumably so he can pick up some fresh bidons for his teammates.
From our friends at ASO, here's the current standings in the points classification.
1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step), 229
2. Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), 173
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), 151
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), 151
5. Julian Alaphilippe (Dceuninck-Quick Step), 131
6. Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic), 120
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Jack Thompson is attempting to complete the Tour de France route in just 10 days. We caught up with him after day four of The Amazing Chase, presented by Wahoo.
Here's the latest on that front.
Things are hotting up a bit here as the gap drops to just over two minutes with 94km to go.
90km to go
90km to go and the gap is at 1'58.
So far the wind hasn't been a factor today but we've hit another exposed section of road and there is a bit of a cross-wind but we're still 89km from the finish.
We've just gone through a feedzone/litterzone as we see Carapaz and Quintana near the back of the bunch. Cavendish, meanwhile, tucks into his lunch, so clearly there's no threat of the race splitting just yet.
The gap continues to come down too, with the break only holding a 1'47 advantage.
Petr Vakoc continues to share the work with his former team on the front of the peloton as we head into the final 80km of the stage. Sun's out, guns out but no major cross-winds for now.
Lunch very much over for the peloton as they line out once again. It's been a perfect day for Pogacar so far, who hasn't needed to ride in the wind even once since the very early stages. 78km to go.
The wind is blowing from left to right at the moment but it's not strong enough to do any damage for now.
QuickStep don't need to tear the race apart either. If the GC teams want to try and distance each other then it's really up to them to try and do something.
Silvan Dillier is at the back of the main field right now and is just drifting back towards the cars in order to get more bottles for his teammates as up ahead the break see their lead drop to 1'26.
The wind changes direction again but it's more of a tailwind with 70km to go.
Up ahead and the break at attacking each other with 65km to go, while we see some moves near the front of the bunch too with Gilbert kicking things off.
Alex Aranburu kicks out next but he's marked by QuickStep.
Up ahead and Goldstein has attacked. Latour can make it but Bennett looks done and dusted after starting the attacks.
63km to to
So we now have Latour and Goldstein clear with 63km to go and a gap at 1'20.
The bunch aren't sitting back now and two more riders go clear, but once more QuickStep mark an acceleration from Intermarche.
Two riders become five and Wout Van Aert is there. QuickStep won't let this stand.
Massive crash with just over 62km to go. Several rides are down, and some have gone over the side of the road into a ditch.
Majka, Simon Yates, Tim Declercq all down. An EF rider too.
They are pulling riders out the ditch and trees. This is awful.
Søren Kragh Andersen comes out of the treeline. He looks okay.
That might have been Uran from EF.
Simon Yates is sitting down, and he isn't getting up as up ahead Wout Van Aert kicks off again.
Yates is finally back to his feet but he's a long way down on the race now.
Quickstep are just marking moves for now as Simon Yates finally gets going. There's another one of his teammates though who is also in trouble.
At the front of the race and Goldstein and Latour have just 36 seconds.
Latour and Goldstein are just attacking each other but they have just 36 seconds.
56km to go
More attacks though and Pedersen has a turn but it's marked. Colbrelli is interested in getting away too.
Thomas, Poels were also held up in that fall and are now chasing back on. Tim Declercq is back chasing too but his day at the front is over.
Quickstep are back on the front and they're just starting to calm things down with Alaphilippe leading the bunch.
Goldstein and Latour want the combativity prize, hence why they re attacking each other.
Riders taken down in that fall: Bouhanni, Higuita, Yates, Majka, Poels, Kragh, Declercq
53km to go
Poels has a teammate with him and should make it back as he's through the cars at the moment. Now Goldstein and Latour shake hands as they're caught with 53km to go.
Thomas is coming back through the cars and he has teammates with him. He has Simon Clarke for company too, and Higuita.
EF and UAE hit the front now with Quickstep and the nerves are up as we head into the final 50km of the stage.
Roger Kluge is out of the race after that crash.
We still have about 30 riders off the back but the race is coming back together with 48km to go. The pace has slowed in the peloton.
Pogacar has been brought up by his teammates as we get closer and closer to the finish. 45km to go.
B&B Hotels p/b KTM kicks things off again with an attack with 45km to go.
Simon Yates has abandoned the Tour de France.
40km to go
Alaphilippe heads the peloton while Quentin Pacher has a 24 second lead with 40km to go.
Several riders have gone back to the medical car as we see Cavendish have a bike change with 36km to go.
He's back in the cars almost immediately as the bunch slows too. Quentin Pacher has 50 seconds right now.
The race has calmed down once again as we head towards the final 35km g the stage. First Cavendish and now it's Philipsen who has a rear wheel change.
1'16 for Quentin Pacher with 34km to go. He's no real threat for now but he's doing a decent job at least making the sprinters's team think about a chase.
Into the final 30km now and the world champion is back on the front. Jan Bakelants is the second rider on the road having attacked earlier but he's about to be swept up.
It's full gas now and Jan Bakelants has been reeled in with 27km to go. It's all QuickStep on the front but Colbrelli is near the head of affairs too, along with Van Aert and Matthews.
Hamilton has abandoned the race, so that's two riders out for BikeExchange.
Tim Declercq is sitting this one out so it's meant his QuickStep teammates have had to rotate roles for the rest of the stage. 25km to go.
Another crash with 22km to go.
Qhubeka NextHash have two riders on the deck but they're both back on their feet. Henao was one of the riders. 22km to go.
A raised hand their from a Cofidis rider in the bunch. Not sure who that was directed to.
Day over for Alaphilippe who peels off. Cavendish still has about five riders with him though for the finish.
The white jersey meanwhile is being protected by Van Aert as our lone leader holds just a 12 second lead with 20km to go.
Ineos take things up and we do have a bit of crosswinds.
Several riders have been dropped as the entire bunch lines out.
Colbrelli doesn't have a lot of support at the moment.
Colbrelli even takes a turn with 16km to go.
Now it' Oss who sets the pace and this could split.
Pogacar is on the outside and in the wind, he needs some cover as Movistar and Jumbo take things up on the front of the peloton. 15km to go.
Colbrelli follows Pogacar as Philipsen and Bouhanni move up as well.
I don't think the wind is strong enough and it's turning more to a tailwind now as Kung has a mechanical. 13km to go.
QuickStep are relying on other teams and it's Ineos who set the pace as we take on yet more rad furniture.
Pogacar has two teammates but they're on his wheel so he's still in the wind.
Asgreen takes over now and he lines out the peloton with 11.5km to go. This is such a rapid finish as all the sprinters merge towards the front. This could get really messy though as Porte and Quintana are dropped.
Van Aert now leads the race, Matthew is up there. 10.6km to go.
Cavendish hits fourth wheel. It's about to get really tricky.
Ineos once more set the pace. They're all looking at each other.
Movistar are leading as the roads narrow, not for the first time.
Van Avermaet brings his team to the front, EF do the same with Uran as the battle for the front positions intensifies.
Colbrelli now has Haller in front of him with 6.5km to go. Cavendish is about 30th wheel for now.
Without one team to control the finale it just because even more tense. 5.8km to go.
Cofidis are there for Laporte as QuickStep begin to organise, and they still have numbers.
Ineos return to the front for Carapaz with 4.4km to go.
Through some really tight corners and road furniture but they're all safe as we head into the final 3km. Morkov has Cavendish on his wheel as Thomas sits up.
Now Cavendish's team hit the front with 2.8km to go. Colbrelli has three teammates now.
They're all fighting for Cavendish's wheel. 2.3km to go.
Now Bahrain hit the front. 1.7km to go. Bouhanni, Philipsen, Cavendish , Colbrelli all here.
Tight right hander coming up but QuickStep lead us through.
Perfect leadout with 1km to go.
Colbrelli has ground to make up. 600m to go.
Mark Cavendish has won as many Tour de France stages as Eddy Merckx.
That was so complicated and such a messy finish but lets rewind.
The leadout fractured in the final 400m, Philipsen was closing and Cavendish had to adjust his position at least twice.
I think Morkov finished second with Philipsen third.
Colbrelli and Matthews weren't even in the top five today.
Cavendish had to go early as well but that's 34 Tour de France stage wins for Mark Cavendish.
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 05:04:29
2 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
3 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
4 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
6 Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
7 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
8 André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
9 Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo
10 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
General classification after stage 13
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 52:27:12
2 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education-Nippo 00:05:18
3 Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 00:05:32
4 Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers 00:05:33
5 Ben O'Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën Team 00:05:58
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:06:16
7 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech 00:06:30
8 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:07:11
9 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis 00:09:29
10 Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 00:10:28
That's truly an incredible feat, to equal a record like that, especially after the last few years that Mark Cavendish has endured.
Let's hear from our stage winner on such a historic achievement.
“I can’t even think about it,” Cavendish said, still trying to recover from his sprint effort and the stage.
“I’m so dead after 220km, in that heat, in that wind, that final. I went deep there, so deep. The boys were incredible. I can’t believe it.
“It's still just another win on the Tour de France, it's like my first one. I've won a stage of the Tour de France, it's what I've dreamed of as a kid. It's what I dream of now. I've worked so hard for it.”
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