Huge cracks in the Ineos armour as Roglič extends his lead
With a huge amount of climbing to contend with, stage 13 was expected to be a tale of two races.
As the breakaway drama for the stage unfolded at the finish, the yellow jersey battle began to explode into life in the final few kilometres.
Ineos Grenadiers were clearly motivated as they had led the charge early in the stage and they finally launched their first notable attack on their rivals as Richard Carapaz tried to distance the favourites in support of his leader Egan Bernal.
The favourites appeared evenly matched for most of the stage until they hit the very final climb of the day, when we saw the first real gaps open up in the top-10.
Roglič and his compatriot Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) stretched their legs on the brutal gradients to Puy Mary and pulled out a modest gap on their rivals.
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) was resurgent as he rode just a few lengths off the two Slovenians, but the real shock came as Egan Bernal cracked badly under the pressure.
The reigning champion clearly didn’t have the legs to match Roglič and he began to lose more and more time near the summit.
Roglič led in the favourites with Pogačar alongside, while Bernal lost 38 seconds by the finish to Roglič and slipped back to third place.
Bernal is now 59 seconds behind Roglič, while Pogacar has jumped up five places to occupy second place on the general classification, 44 seconds behind the leader.
Time to celebrate for EF Pro Cycling
US WorldTour team EF Pro Cycling had been having a quietly promising Tour de France in the opening two weeks, sneaking into the top-10 overall with Rigoberto Urán and staying active in the breakaways with Nielson Powless.
But despite the hints of success, Jonathan Vaughters’s team were just missing their moment of glory.
That all changed on stage 13 when they managed to get three riders – Hugh Carthy, Powless and Dani Martínez – into the break.
Powless was the first to show his hand as he rode clear from his fellow breakaway riders, but the victory looked to be slipping away from EF when Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) cracked Powless to ride away solo.
But hope returned when Martínez bridge across to Schachmann with Lennard Kämna (also Bora-Hansgrohe) in tow.
Against the odds, Martínez outrode Schachmann and made it into the final few hundred metres with Kämna.
But the Colombian looked like he’d missed out when Kamna opened his sprint early and Martínez didn’t immediately react, but fortunately he had the strength still left in his legs to sprint past and score the victory .
Meanwhile in the GC battle, Urán held firm to finish while others slipped back and finished 38 seconds down on race leader Primož Roglič.
While that may not seem a fantastic result on the surface, Urán jumped up two places into fourth overall, just 1-10 off the lead with just over a week left to race.
No safe moments for GC contenders
Any GC contenders feeling comfortable on stage 13 were given a stark warning on the road to Puy Mary.
With 90km of the stage left to race a number of yellow jersey hopefuls were caught in a nasty crash on a fairly benign right-hand turn, with Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) the biggest names caught in the chaos.
Both riders, who started the day fourth and fifth respectively, were able to re-mount and chase back on to the peloton thanks to some assistance from their team-mates.
Bardet was banged up in the fall and suffered cuts to his arm, but there didn’t appear to be any permanent damage Bardet, as the Frenchman cracked on the climb with around 10km to the finish, finishing the stage two minutes down on his rivals and slipping out of the top-10.
Bardet now sits 11th overall, three minutes off the race lead.
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) also fell in the same collision and came off worse.
Dutchman Mollema was seen with a bloodied face and he was forced to abandon the 2020 Tour de France and give up his 13th place on general classification.
The crash has made life just a little bit harder for Richie Porte, who has lost his most vital team-member in the mountain stages.
A breakaway full of hitters, including Dan Martin and Julian Alaphilippe
Breakaways in this edition of the Tour have been unpredictable to say the least.
We’ve seen a day without a single escape on stage five from Gap to Privas, and on stage 12 to Sarran we saw a probable breakaway become something different altogether when Bora-Hansgrohe refused to let anyone get too far in front.
But stage 13 was the perfect opportunity for any opportunists to get clear and take a stage, and some big names were motivated to take the chance.
After a tough race to establish the day’s breakaway, 17 riders made it clear with a number of stars looking to take something away from the day.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) made the escape, along with Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up) Nation who looked strong after coming into the Tour with a back injury, while Max Schachmann and Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) hoped to make up for a disappointing Tour so far for the German squad.
Ineos Grenadiers domestique Pavel Sivakov had also made the cut, but he sat up before the final phase of the race to support Bernal, a tactic which didn’t stop his team leader losing time.
In the end it was EF who took the spoils from the break, with Bora left most frustrated after just missing out again with a second place in the sprint.
Rough day for Sam Bennett in the green jersey
Sam Bennett is in a strong position in the green jersey competition, which he leads over Peter Sagan by more than 60 points thanks to his stage victory on on day 10, but the competition is far from settled.
The Deceuninck – Quick-Step sprinter began to struggle very early in the stage and dropped from the peloton like a stone on the climbs.
His team were committed to keeping him in the bunch and after a long battle, and the Irish national champion was able to rejoin the peloton during the sedate middle section, only to be dropped again as the pace ramped up for the final.
Bennet eventually dead last on the stage 34 minutes behind the winner, but he made it within the time limit and survived to fight another day.
With more brutal mountain stages on the way will he make it to Paris to claim the green jersey?