CHÂTILLON-SUR-CHALARONNE > GRAND COLOMBIER
July 14, 2023
On French Independence Day, Michal Kwiatkowski reached the top ahead of Pogacar and Vingegaard, clinching the mountain finish of le Grand Colombier. The Ineos Grenadiers rider had stayed away after an early breakaway in the stage with break companion Maxim Van Gils. It was Kwiatkowski’s second Tour de France stage victory after stage 17 in 2020. Jonas Vingegaard maintained his overall Yellow Jersey lead by 9 seconds after dueling it out with Pogacar up to the finish. American Neilson Powless continues to hold the Polka Dot jersey!
“The Most Brutal Effort of My Life”
Said Kwiatkowski after the stage, “I was not alone, I had 18 friends in the break… The break was a free ticket to the bottom of the climb, but I didn’t think we could make it to the finish because UAE was pulling hard behind.” But added the World Road Race winner, “UAE let too many guys up front, whereas I found out I had the best legs I’ve had in my life. I didn’t believe it was possible, but here I am! Winning atop Grand Colombier… the final climb was very long – the most brutal effort in my life. Without the fans, this win wouldn’t have been possible.”
Pogacar tried to take time from Vingegaard at the final kilometers, and managed to steal back 4 seconds. Said Vingegaard after the stage finish, “Today’s stage didn’t suit me really with this final climb only, so I’m happy to have limited the losses and to keep the yellow jersey. I’m not anxious. If I win I win, if not I will have done my best anyway.”
After the start of this mountain stage, 19 riders took the lead after 26km of racing: Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) who initiated this move a few kilometres before, Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Alberto Bettiol, James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quick Step), Matej Mohoric, Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek), Adrien Petit, Mike Teunissen, Georg Zimmerman (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Hugo Houle (Israel-PremierTech), Luca Mozzato (Arkea-Samsic), Maxim Van Gils (Lotto-Dstny), Cees Bol, Harold Tejada (Astana), Anthon Charmig (Uno-X), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies). The time gap was 2’25’’ with 60 km to go.
Pacher Started Up Colombier Alone, Kwiatkowski Followed
Teunissen won the intermediate sprint at Hauteville-Lompnès (km 87.3). Matteo Trentin, Mikkel Bjerg and Vegard Stake Laengen continued to lead the pack for UAE Team Emirates. Bol was the first rider dropped, followed by Petit who fought hard to try and come across. Latour who finished second at Puy de Dôme couldn’t hold the pace in a downhill with 35 km remaining. The peloton was behind the leaders by 3’55’’ at the beginning of the 17.4 km ascent to Grand Colombier. Pacher rode away from the leaders 16 km before the summit. Tejada, Van Gils and Shaw brought him back with 12.8 km to go. But Kwiatkowski passed them and went solo one kilometer further.
Pogacar Attacks With 400 Meters to the Summit
Kwiatkowski had a 3’15’’ lead over the peloton with 10 km to go. That fell to 2’20’’ at the 5 km mark to the finish. Adam Yates sped up with 3 km remaining and shattered the 15-rider yellow jersey group. Vingegaard remained vigilant and Kwiatkowski stayed ahead to win 47’’ seconds before Van Gils, the only other breakaway rider to fend off Pogacar. The Slovenian attacked just before the 400 m to go signboard. He managed to gain 4’’ on Vingegaard plus 4’’ of time bonus for finishing third.