Reigning Tour de France champion Bernal cracks on the silent slopes of Grand Colombier

Egan Bernal and Nairo Quintana, third and fifth on the Tour de France GC overnight, saw their bids for the yellow jersey dashed after they cracked far down the slopes of the 17 km long Grand Colombier, Sunday’s summit finish. Bernal dropped to 13th and Quintana fell to ninth. Jumbo-Visma and the Slovenians dominated again, with Tadej Pogačar earning his second victory of the 2020 Tour and race leader Primoz Roglič putting time into all his other rivals before the second and last rest day.

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At the start of the stage Roglič held a 44-second lead over compatriot Pogačar and felt the presence of four Colombians–Bernal, Rigoberto Uran, Quintana and Angel Lopez–from 59-seconds to 1:31 in arrears.

The Course

It was the first big major mountain excursion with three big ascents in the final half of 174-km. First up was Cat. 1 Montée de la Selle de Fromente, 11.1 km of 8.1 percent, whose descent led directly to Cat. 1 Col de la Biche, 6.9 km at 8.9 percent. The daunting final test was the HC giant Grand Colombier, 17.4 km of 7.1 percent. Yowza.

Montée de la Selle de Fromente

An octet of fugitives slipped away early in the stage, and it hit the first challenge with a 4:30 gap on the yellow jersey peloton, which leaked sprinters out the back on the lower slopes. Before the 22 percent ramps near the peak, Simon Geschke, Jesus Herrada and Pierre Rolland scampered away from the other escapees. Herrada claimed the maximum KOM points at the top to become sixth in the classification.

As expected, Jumbo-Visma hauled along the peloton.

Col de la Biche

There were fans and even chainsaws revving at the top of Fromente, but spectators were banned atop the next two climbs, which would prove unsettling on Grand Colombier.

Austrian Michael Gogl (NTT), who Peter Sagan called Google when they were teammates at Tinkoff-Saxo, had to zigzag across the road of Fromante to join Herrada and company, but on La Biche he attacked. Rolland of B&B Hotel-Vital Concept bridged over with 2 km to climb and then went solo, closing in on the KOM lead by cresting first and 2:10 ahead of the yellow jersey group.

Grand Colombier

Tenacious Gogl found Rolland, the duo with a 2:00 gap at 29 km to ride. Jumbo-Visma tugged 40 riders to the foot of the Grand Colombier, one of only four Tour de France HC-rated climbs not in the Alps or Pyrenees.

Wout Van Aert whipped along the bunch at 27 km/h on the 8 percent slope at the bottom of the climb. Gogl and Rolland were finally mopped up.

With 13-km to climb, first Quintana and then Egan Bernal faded.

Egan Bernal and Nairo Quintana explode on the Grand Colombier.

Wout Van Aert swung over with 8.8 km to climb and Quintana and Bernal 1:30 behind. All the clambering took place in an eerie silence.

Seventh place Adam Yates attacked with 7 km remaining, but Tom Dumoulin made sure he was only clear for a kilometre. A dozen riders headed into the final kilometre.

Roglič attacked with 600-metres to go, drawing Pogačar, Sepp Kuss, Richie Porte and Angel Lopez. Porte took a little gap but the Slovenians flowed around him. Pog held off Rogla for his second win and UAE-Emirates’ third. Bonus seconds brought Pogačar a few seconds closer to his compatriot.

Uran is in a podium position now, with Lopez 11 seconds behind and Adam Yates, Porte and Mikel Landa within striking distance. Quintana recovered enough to cling to the top-10 and Dumoulin jumped into it.

2020 Tour de France Stage 15
1) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) 4:34:13
2) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) s.t.
3) Richie Porte (Australia/Trek-Segafredo) +0:05

2020 Tour de France GC
1) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) 65:37:07
2) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) +0:40
3) Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/EF Pro Cycling) +1:34
4) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) +1:45
5) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) +2:03
6) Richie Porte (Australia/Trek-Segafredo) +2:13
7) Mikel Landa (Spain/Bahrain-McLaren) +2:16
8) Enric Mas (Spain/Movistar) +3:15
9) Nairo Quintana (Colombia/Arkea-Samsic) +5:08
10 Tom Dumoulin (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) +5:12

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