TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 | STAGE 13 | CHÂTILLON-SUR-CHALARONNE > GRAND COLOMBIER
The mountain top finish of Grand Colombier welcomed the second Tour de France stage victory of Michal Kwiatkowski after stage 17 in 2020, the seventh for Polish riders in the history, after Zenon Jaskula, Rafal Majka and Maciej Bodnar did so as well. The Ineos Grenadiers rider stayed away from the early escape to win solo before former breakaway companion Maxim Van Gils whereas Jonas Vingegaard maintained his overall lead by nine seconds.
LOTS OF ATTACKS BEFORE 19 RIDERS GO CLEAR
The start proper of stage 13 was given at 13.55 to 167 riders. After many unfruitful skirmishes, 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). UAE Team Emirates was prompt to set the pace of the peloton. The time gap was 2’25’’ with 60km to go.
PACHER ALONE UP THE HILL, THEN KWIATKOWSKI
Teunissen won the intermediate sprint at Hauteville-Lompnès (km 87.3). Matteo Trentin, Mikkel Bjerg and Vegard Stake Laengen continued to do all the work at the head of 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 35km remaining. The deficit of the peloton was 3’55’’ at the beginning of the 17.4km long ascent to Grand Colombier. Pacher rode away from the front group 16km before the summit. Tejada, Van Gils and Shaw brought him back with 12.8km to go. Kwiatkowski overhauled them and kept going solo one kilometre further.
POGACAR ATTACKS 400 METERS BEFORE THE END
Kwiatkowski had 3’15’’ lead over the peloton with 10km to go. It was reduced to 2’20’’ at the 5km to go mark. Adam Yates sped up with 3km remaining and split the 15-man yellow jersey group into pieces. Vingegaard remained vigilant and Kwiatkowski dealt with the strength he had kept to stay ahead and win 47’’ seconds before Van Gils, the only other breakaway rider who fended off Pogacar. The Slovenian attacked just before the 400m to go signboard. He managed to gain 4’’ on Vingegaard plus 4’’ of time bonus for finishing third.
MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI: “THE FANS HELPED ME A LOT”
“I was not alone, I had 18 friends in the break. We had a nice advantage before the final climb. That was a crazy experience final. 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. We didn’t want to miss any big break, like every day. We try to go on every group in order not to be caught out by a dangerous move. 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… I have bad memories with Egan Bernal here, thinking of quitting the race. Whereas the stage with Richard Carapaz at La Roche was full gas, and we only enjoyed final 15k. As for today, the final climb was very long – the most brutal effort in my life. Without the fans, this win wouldn’t have been possible. I didn’t have the car behind me, so couldn’t hear the gaps. The fans helped me all the way to the finish.”
NEILSON POWLESS: “I HOPE I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE TO SKIP THE BREAKAWAY TODAY”
“I didn’t want to spend any energy today trying to get into the break. Yet, in the end, the break made it all the way to the finish line… I just hope I made the right choice by staying in the bunch. We will see how many KOM points I score tomorrow. The fans today were incredible. They got louder and louder as we got into the climb.”
TADEJ POGACAR: “IT’S A VICTORY IN THE BATTLE FOR THE YELLOW JERSEY”
“Hats off to the breakaway for making it to the finish. Michal Kwiatkowski was super strong today. As for us, it has been a successful day as we took some seconds back. The Tour is still long and we are in a good situation. We are going day by day, looking at this kind of opportunities to take back some seconds. It was a really good team performance. Everybody can take a lot of confidence and motivation from today. Even if we didn’t get the stage win, it was still a victory in the battle for the yellow jersey.”
JONAS VINGEGAARD: “I’M NOT ANXIOUS, I DO MY BEST”
“I don’t feel frustrated at all. Our plan was to let the breakaway win the stage and that’s what happened. 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. I’m satisfied with my current shape.”
A THRILLING FIGHT FOR JUST NINE SECONDS
Nine seconds between the first and second riders on GC after stage 13 in the Tour de France is the sixth smallest gap in the history after 1″ between Cadel Evans and Fränk Schleck in 2008, 3’’ between Raphaël Geminiani and Vito Favero in 1958, 6’’ between Rinaldo Nocentini and Alberto Contador in 2009, 6″ also between Fabio Aru and Chris Froome in 2017 and 8″ between Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond in 1989. After two hors-category gruelling uphill finishes at Puy de Dôme and Grand Colombier, comes the first Alpine stage featuring several climbs and finishing in a downhill, so it’ll be a very different kind of race. Again, there can be two races, one for the stage win from far out and one for the GC, mostly another fight between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. The Dane whose advantage keeps decreasing since he took the yellow jersey at Cauterets on stage 6 with a 25″ gap believes he’ll feel more at ease in a succession of climbs. He has clearly preserved his team-mates yesterday in order to have a full team backing him in Joux-Plane, the last climb before Morzine that awards 8″, 5″ and 2″ bonus, whereas UAE Team Emirates have spent a lot of energy for a fairly small gain at Grand Colombier.