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Tour de France 2019: Thomas loses time to Alaphilippe as Pinot wins Stage 14 on the Tourmalet

Joe Robinson
20 Jul 2019

French hopes stay alive as Alaphilippe proves genuine contender for yellow jersey

Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) lost 35 seconds to Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in the race for yellow as the Frenchman silenced his critics on an explosive stage finishing atop the mighty Col du Tourmalet as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) won Stage 14 of the 2019 Tour de France.

Defending champion Thomas was dropped in the final kilometre of the race as Alaphilippe proved he is a genuine contender for the overall title, defending his lead in a performance that will lead the French public to dream of victory in Paris.

Home celebrations will not just be reserved for Alaphilippe as Pinot took the stage win and clawed back more time on his General Classification rivals to put the French duo in a strong position looking forward to a tough final week.

It was also a good day for Steven Kruisjwijk (Jumbo-Visma), Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) and Emmanual Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who all crossed the line with or near Alaphilippe.

The Tourmalet's slopes took no prisoners as Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) were all victims of its severity, all seeing their General Classification hopes come to an end. 

However, you cannot help but think the day's biggest loser was Thomas who appeared a shadow of his 2018 self on the first major test of this year's Tour.

Short but sweet

Yesterday's individual time trial was the most entertaining test against the clock since the final stage of the 1989 Tour.

Julian Alaphilippe put the entire peloton to the sword to not only defend his yellow jersey but extend his lead over Geraint Thomas by a further 14 seconds.

The French were beginning to dream. Could this be their year? Their first year since 1986?

Well, if Alaphilippe genuinely held ambitions of yellow in Paris, he would need to get through the first major test, Stage 14's 117km sprint from Tarbes to the peak of the Col du Tourmalet.

A giant of a mountain and much-loved climb for the Tour, its 2,115m summit was certain to sort the strong from the weak.

As the flag dropped to start the race, long-time friends Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali decided to start of breakaway proceedings before being joined by 15 others including polka dot jersey wearer Tim Wellens.

The break was never given the gap they wanted as Groupama-FDJ held the gap around the two minute 30 second mark with the wider picture of teeing up Thibaut Pinot for the stage victory at the end of the day.

Taking over from the French team, Movistar started to set the pace on the penultimate Col du Soulor climb which strung the peloton out across the climb and had a great thinning effect with riders dropping with every metre, most notably Romain Bardet who was having a torrid Tour so far.

Next to go was Adam Yates. His brother Simon tried to pace his twin back onto the group but the Lancastrian was clearly struggling.

At the top of the Soulor, Wellens took the mountain points from Nibali to extend his lead in that competition as they both pushed on with Elie Gesbert of Arkea-Samsic.

Total-Direct Energie's Romain Sicard had the honour of leading the race onto the Tourmalet with a gap of 1 minute 20 to a Movistar-led peloton that looked nervous for what was ahead.

Dan Martin struggled, dropping with over 12km still to climb and Nairo Quintana looked to be on a bad day, slipping away from the leaders at 10km left to go, the only real victim of Movistar's pace.

One by one, all the big hitters found themselves dropped as Pinot took the stage and Alaphilippe defended yellow.