Today’s route was a mammoth stage that featured a brutal uphill finish that sat 2,304 meters above sea level. And the only way to get there was by tackling a 21.5 kilometer climb up the Col de la Loze, the highest climb in the 2020 Tour de France. Race commentator Phil Liggest summed it up perfectly: This a horrible week if you can’t climb mountains.
The seventeenth day of racing featured two climbs that were more than an hour long. The team dug deep to support their race leader, Rigoberto Urán, as they continued their route to Paris. While the guys may not have gotten the result they wanted with Rigo moving down to 6th place in the general classification, Urán once again showed his grit and experience in the mountains today. He finished this monumental stage in 9th place and the team still remains in third for the general classification. “It was a really tough stage today and the final part of the climb was tricky, but I just did what I always do, and I tried my best all the way to the finish. We’ve lost quite a bit of time, but we’ll keep fighting right to the end, like always,” said Urán.
Today’s stage was dominated early by the breakaway of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Richard Carapaz (Ineos), Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation). This group eventually dwindled down to three with Alaphilippe, Carapaz, and Izagirre leading as they continued to widen their gap over the peloton to about six minutes.
Urán looked calm and comfortable alongside Hugh Carthy as they made their way up the Col de la Loze. Then with 13.5 kilometers to go, Carthy eventually dropped as Rigo continued to chase Team Bahrain who now controlled the chase group of only 24 riders. “Rigo was looking good on the final climb. It was hard and really steep,” said Carthy.
Alaphilippe eventually dropped out of contention for the stage win, and it became a two man race between Carapaz and Izagirre. The group was quickly dropped down to 20 riders and you guessed it: even more riders continued to drop. This climb was testing the group and saw many riders gritting their teeth on the way up — but Rigo remained calm and his legs looked strong. Only 18 seconds were between this group and Carapez as they approached the steepest part of the climb.
With 5 miles to go, Rigo looked great on the Col de la Loze and his experience was evident. The top nine riders in the general classification were in his company at this point. It was hard to believe that this could get even stepper and more narrow — but that it did.
The race suddenly became an exciting battle between Michael Angel Lopez (Astana) overall race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Vismo). Lopez bested him today, but Roglic still held onto his yellow jersey. Hugh Carthy finished the punishing stage in 23rd place and is proud of his team today after a tremendous effort. “We’re a little disappointed but overall we couldn’t have done anything different. We tried our best,” said Carthy.
Quotes from the day
Hugh Carthy, rider
“Rigo was looking good on the final climb. It was hard and really steep. We’re a little disappointed but overall we couldn’t have done anything different. We tried our best.”
Rigo Urán, rider
“It was a really tough stage today and the final part of the climb was tricky, but I just did what I always do, and I tried my best all the way to the finish. We’ve lost quite a bit of time, but we’ll keep fighting right to the end, like always. Tomorrow is going to be another hard stage, it could be one where everything changes again, just need to try and recover well before then, and give it everything that we have again tomorrow.”