Adam Yates held off a string of attacks to retain the yellow jersey as the Tour de France moved into the Pyrenees on Saturday.
The Bury rider was attacked repeatedly by his rivals on the Col de Peyresourde, the final climb of a testing 141km stage from Cazeres-sur-Garonne to Loudenvielle, but kept his cool and was able to get back on their wheels on the descent to the finish.
It means the Mitchelton-Scott man retains a three-second advantage over Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic before another day in the mountains on Sunday.
Doing the jersey proud! 💛 pic.twitter.com/G7DIiEiLis
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) September 5, 2020
AG2R La Mondiale’s Nans Peters took the stage win out of a 13-man breakaway that went up the road early, his first career Tour stage success, and a victory for the French was much needed on a day when their main contenders in the overall battle suffered a bad day.
Thibaut Pinot has shouldered most of the hopes that a 35-year wait for a home winner might soon end but his Tour ambitions were left in ruins by the end of the day.
The Groupama-FDJ rider has been receiving daily treatment on a back injury suffered in an opening stage crash in Nice, but the first hors categorie climb of the Tour, the Port de Bales was enough to break him.
The peloton was barely on to the climb where Pinot impressively took control of the young riders’ white jersey in the 2014 Tour when he was dropped, appearing in obvious pain as he was surrounded by his team-mates.
When one of them slipped a consoling arm around his shoulder it signalled his Tour challenge was over before the first rest day.
What a stage! 👏
🎬 Relive the last kilometre of @NansPeters solo victory!
Quelle étape ! 👏
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) September 5, 2020
As the race then moved on to the Peyresourde, Julian Alaphilippe put in an early dig but it proved a short-lived and ill-advised move as the Deceuninck-QuickStep man was soon caught and spat out the back, tumbling out of contention.
Instead Roglic would be the one to pile pressure on to Yates. Three times he was part of groups that distanced Yates, and when he went clear over the summit it seemed inevitable that his aggressive descending style would bring him time gains.
But Yates held firm, easing his way back on, and when Peters’ team-mate Romain Bardet – 13 seconds down in the standings – tried a late dig it was the Brit who moved first to shut it down.
One rider who did get away was Tadej Pogacar, the UAE Team Emirates man clawing back some of the 81 seconds that he lost in crosswinds on Friday.
But Yates retained his slender lead over Roglic, with Guillaume Martin third with a nine-second deficit. Bardet claimed two seconds to sit fourth, 11 seconds down, while defending champion Egan Bernal retains the best young rider’s white jersey as part of a group 13 seconds off yellow.