While Geraint Thomas was one of a number of general classification contenders who cracked on Saturday’s brutal climb to the top of the Tourmalet – escaping relatively lightly with just a 36-second loss – one man who did not was his team-mate Egan Bernal.
The Colombian looked strong in the final kilometres, even looking around at one point as Thomas lost contact with the leading group, checking to see whether he was required to help the Welshman back.
Bernal then turned again and pressed on, eventually crossing the line in fifth, eight seconds behind stage winner Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
Bernal now sits fourth overall, exactly three minutes behind Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), while Thomas remains second at 2min 2sec as the race prepares for another brutal Pyrenean stage today, ending with a summit finish in Foix.
But the fact that the Colombian was the stronger rider, and was allowed to carry on, inevitably led to speculation afterwards that the pendulum might switch again in his favour in the intra-Ineos battle.
Team Ineos sporting director Nicolas Portal said it was too early to say how the team would play their cards now, although he admitted the team would now have to “think differently”.
“We’re going to think a little bit differently, but first, we have to talk to the guys and debrief,” Portal said. “A lot of teams and GC leaders are in the same situation. Some [rivals] we’ll have to attack, but first, we have to see what the guys are saying. If you want to attack, you have to have the legs.
“G didn’t have a great day in the past couple of kilometres, but he kept riding and he lost around 36 seconds, so it’s not a big blow. Sometimes you can have a bad day and today was a bad day for him.
“Egan was there, so that’s good. Yesterday he wasn’t too happy with his time trial, so today I think he’s going to be pretty happy with his performance.”
Portal added that what is fast becoming a classic Tour deserved to have the best winner, and if that was Alaphilippe – who again defied expectations by finishing second on the stage – then so be it.
“Chapeau to Julian Alaphilippe,” he said. “He’s clearly the man of this Tour de France. At the end of the day you want to see the best rider winning the Tour, and if that’s Julian then it will be Julian.”
One man who does not expect Alaphilippe to be riding into Paris in yellow is Astana general manager Alexander Vinokourov. The London 2012 gold medallist said he did not understand how the Frenchman – a classics specialist – was managing to remain so consistent.
“I knew that a yellow jersey can change you – but I didn’t know it could make you fly,” said the former rider from Kazakhstan, who was banned for a year for blood doping in 2007. “If he arrives in Paris in yellow it will be a big surprise... I don’t understand cycling.”
Defending champion Thomas speaks . . .
After losing time to race leader Julian Alaphilippe and, perhaps more worryingly, to team-mate Egan Bernal who looked the strongest of the two Ineos riders in the first proper test in the high mountains, Geraint Thomas has spoken, saying he felt "quite weak" throughout the stage.
"I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. Just quite weak. At the end I knew I had to try to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow them when they kicked. I felt it was better to ride my own pace and limit my losses that way, rather than trying to stay with them and blow up at the end.
"It was a tough day out there. I’m just a bit disappointed, but it is what it is. I just tried to limit the damage. Still a lot to come, and hopefully I’ll feel a bit better tomorrow."
Thomas loses time
Steven Kruijswijk finished third. What a great day for French cycling, but a quite unforgettable one for Welsh fans after their man Geraint Thomas finished in eighth spot, 36sec behind the stage winner Pinot and 28sec behind team-mate Egan Bernal who looked the strongest Ineos rider on the first proper mountain test at this year's Tour.
Alaphilippe extends his lead
Julian Alaphilippe finishes second to earn himself a six-second time bonus which has allowed him to increase his lead over defending champion Geraint Thomas to 2min 2sec.
Pinot wins stage 14 at the Tour de France
Thibaut Pinot wins the stage! That's an incredible win for the Frenchman.
300 metres to go
Pinot looking good, but there's a group of five riders who could win this famous stage.
500 metres to go
Geraint Thomas is losing more and more time.
1km to go
Geraint Thomas is dropped and Julian Alaphippe is holding on.
1.2km to go
Emanuel Buchmann takes it up and he's flying. Geraint Thomas is dropped.
1.3km to go
Rigoberto Urán is the next to be dropped, so no celebrations for Colombia on their day of independence. Adiós, Rigo.
1.5km to go
And it is farvel Jakob Fuglsang after the Danish rider pops.
2km to go
George Bennett, Steven Kruijswijk, Emanuel Buchmann and Mikel Landa. That's the order of the leading quartet of riders, but Thibaut Pinot is loitering, poised perhaps preparing to launch an attack. Julian Alaphilippe is hanging in there despite what many had said ahead of this stage that finishes over 2,000 metres above sea level.
2.5km to go
Emanuel Buchmann is holding the wheels of Jumbo-Visma, but Laurens De Plus has now peeled off before handing over to mountain domestique George Bennett. Who will be the first to attack?
3km to go
Jumbo-Visma who have three riders in the leading group – Laurens De Plus, George Bennett and Steven Kruijswijk – take over on the front. The Dutch team are doing an incredible job here today on behalf of their main general classification man Kruijswijk, this is perhaps the best all-round performance of the day, but will it pay off at the line?
3.5km to go
Julian Alaphilippe is still in this leading group after David Gaudu is caught and dropped. Nairo Quintana is over a minute down the road.
3.7km to go
Thibaut Pinot is not following his team-mate, but instead waiting for Jumbo-Visma to chase and take him with them while, hopefully, tiring themselves out a little more ahead of the battle for the stage. World champion Alejandro Valverde has gone, the Spaniard is dropped.
4km to go
David Gaudu attacks!
4.5km to go
Julian Alaphilippe is riding on the wheel of defending champion Geraint Thomas. Can he hold on all the way to the summit? Emanuel Buchmann is in there for Bora-Hansgrohe, but it's David Gaudu who is making this group suffer. What a talented young man Gaudu is.
5km to go
Richie Porte is dropped, as is Enric Mas. Wout Poels is suffering too leaving just two Ineos riders in this leading group: Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal.
5.5km to go
Warren Barguil has been reined back in. Over to you David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot.
6km to go
Warren Barguil is, I'm almost certain, about to be caught.
6.5km to go
David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot are caught and have Jakob Fuglsang (Astana, Den) glued onto their wheels, followed by world champion Alejandro Valverde and Movistar team-mate Mikel Landa. Steven Kruijswijk is next in the group just ahead of Ineos and Geraint Thomas.
7.2km to go
Thibaut Pinot has attacked and he has the brilliant young climber and Groupama-FDJ team-mate David Gaudu for company. Can Pinot catch his compatriot Warren Barguil?
7.5km to go
The maillot jaune of Julian Alaphilippe is at the back of the peloton.
8km to go
Warren Barguil has managed to put 12sec into the peloton which now has Dylan van Baarle (Ineos, Hol) pulling on the front. Further back and Nairo Quintana now has Andrey Amador for company.
8.7km to go
And Ineos are now on the front of the peloton.
Barguil attacks | 9.5km to go
Warren Barguil is the new stage leader and the little flâneur is off up the road. Can the French national champion give his compatriots something else to sing about this evening?
10km to go | Quintana is dropped!
Crikey, Nairo Quintana cannot hold the wheels and has fallen out of the back of the group that is being powered along by his own team-mates.
10.6km to go
Nairo Quintana is sat near the rear of the peloton while his Movistar team-mates continue to tow the group up the steep slopes of the Tourmalet. Andrey Amador peels off to lead the way and is followed by team-mates Marc Soler, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa
11.5km to go
Pello Bilbao (Astana, Spa) is shelled while Guillaume Martin is now struggling to hold the wheels. The peloton is riding through the small town of Barèges, just under halfway from the summit of the Tourmalet.
12.5km to go
The Yates brothers are over 40sec off the back while Dan Martin has now popped. Gorka Izagirre (Astana, Spa), the Basque mountain domestique, is the next to go out the back. Rider are dropping like flies as the Movistar train steams ever forward.
Yates brothers dropped
Adam Yates and his twin brother Simon are going backwards. Movistar are driving a hard pace on the front of the peloton which has been whittled down to just 30 riders now. Omar Fraile (Astana, Spa) has been dropped and Dan Martin is struggling to hold the wheels. There are going to be some big casualties here today.
15.5km to go
Élie Gesbert has managed to bridge over to Romain Sicard, perhaps motivated by the thought of Ineos and Gianni Moscon closing in – they're just 48sec down the road now, hugging the wheels of Movistar.
16.5km to go
Julian Alaphilippe is nestled safely at the heart of the peloton which is trailing stage leader Romain Sicard by 1min 9sec.
Here we go . . .
Both stage leader Romain Sicard and the following group, which features the maillot jaune and all of his rivals, are onto the first hors catégorie climb at this year's Tour de France. For those interested, here's a close look at the profile of this Pyrenean behemoth which just goes one, and on, and on . . . until the final 1,000 metres where, quite cruelly, the road kicks up into double digits.
Mountain top finish at the Col du Tourmalet. The steepest slopes (12%) come in the final 400m after the final hairpin. 19km in length averaging 5.4%https://t.co/Iq2YP5kn5T#TDF2019pic.twitter.com/APjWJGHhh5
— VeloViewer (@VeloViewer) July 20, 2019
Bardet is in the gruppetto . . .
. . . but I don't think he's laughing.
22km to go
Romain Sicard has managed to ghost his way off the front of the race and the Total-Direct Énergie rider is just a couple of kilometres away from the real start of the final climb of the day. The approach, by the way, is a long drag up at a gradient of between two and three percent. It's really really annoying. Anyway, the Frenchman is leading by 1min 25sec while further back the trio of Tim Wellens, Vincenzo Nibali and Élie Gesbert have been caught by the peloton. Movistar are looking very hungry.
Intermediate sprint details . . .
For what it's worth, here are the details in full:
The Tour legend where stories are made and lives are changed
Two thousand metres above sea level, the Col du Tourmalet has regularly provided the canvas on which some of the Tour de France's most enduring tales have been told.
Henri Desgrange, the Tour's founding father, thought the Pyrenean pass too difficult to be raced over. The prologue to its story was written when journalist Alphonse Steinès ventured into the high mountains on a mission to prove Desgrange wrong.
In January 1910 Steinès set off on a reconnaissance mission that would change the course of the race's history. Despite failing to reach the snow-covered summit by car and later on foot, after getting to within three kilometres of the top an exhausted and almost frozen Steinès relayed a message to Desgrange telling him it was "perfectly passable".
Six months later, race leader Octave Lapize crested the Tourmalet before letting Steinès and colleague Victor Breyer know exactly what he thought of them. “Vous êtes des assassins! Oui, des assassins!’ ("You are murderers! Yes, murderers!"), he shouted.
31.16km to go
Tim Wellens adds another €1,500 to his prize pot after the Lotto-Soudal rider wins the uncontested intermediate sprint ahead of Vincenzo Nibali and Élie Gesbert.
40km to go
Just a shade over 20km until the big climb of the day starts. I am hearing that Adam Yates has managed to get back on, but at what cost? The effort and energy he will have burned in chasing could cost dearly on the brutish long drag up to the summit of the Tourmalet where the first rider – and thus the stage winner – will trouser himself the Souvenir Jacques Goddet which is worth €5,000.
42km to go
Vincenzo Nibali lose Tim Wellens and Élie Gesbert, by the way, lead the stage but with only 1min 20sec on the peloton it is very unlikely to stay that way all the way to the finish.
45km to go
Tim Wellens and Élie Gesbert have managed to regroup with Vincenzo Nibali following the first half of the descent off the Soulor. Carlos Verona, meanwhile, has dropped back to assist his Movistar team-mates on the front of the peloton. Are they planning on an assault on the Tourmalet and if so, will it be Nairo Quintana or Mikel Landa who goes for glory?
50km to go
It is no surprise to see Vincenzo Nibali lose Tim Wellens and Élie Gesbert on the descent. The Bahrain-Merida rider who is stage hunting here at the Tour de France following his exertions at the recent Giro d'Italia is touching speeds of around 90kmh.
51km to go
Movistar led the peloton over the summit. The road looks to be in fairly decent condition and thankfully, despite that mist on the top, dry.
56.66km to go
Tim Wellens goes over the mist covered Col du Soulor ahead of Vincenzo Nibali to extend his lead in the mountains classification. Nibali, as I'm sure you know, is a fearless descender. Not too sure about Tim Wellens and Élie Gesbert.
Further back and Romain Bardet is losing more and more time.
57km to go
Ilnur Zakarin, a real mountain goat who ordinarily prefers to ride off the front all alone, is edging closer to Tim Wellens, Vincenzo Nibali and Élie Gesbert. However, once at the summit there's a long descent which is not Zakarin's preferred terrain so I wouldn't be too surprised if he is caught over the other side.
58km to go
Tim Wellens, Vincenzo Nibali and Élie Gesbert have attacked the break. A few moments later Ilnur Zakarin rises out of his saddle before producing a hard kick. The Russian is off in pursuit of the leading trio.
59km to go
Adam Yates(Mitchelton-Scott, GB) has been dropped, but he has his twin brother Simon for company. Quite a number of riders are now struggling on this tricky climb.
Sergio Henao has now been caught by the Movistar-powered peloton.
60km to go
Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale, Fra) is off the back and looks to be pedalling squares. Not sure if he has had a mechanical issue, but watching him suffer like this is just horrible. Chin up, Romain.
60.5km to go
The breakaway has split into two, three or even four groups now. Lennard Kämna, Ilnur Zakarin, Vincenzo Nibali, Tim Wellens, Matej Mohoric and Carlos Verona are all in the leading group around 4.5km from the summit. Movistar, meanwhile, are looking very lively back in the chasing group.
61.5km to go
Not looking great for Groupama-FDJ who may have done too much work, too soon, on the front of the peloton. They have lost a couple of their riders while Movistar has sent Marc Soler to the front.
62km to go
More and more riders are getting shelled by the peloton as is winds its way up the Soulor. Ilnur Zakarin, Marco Haller and Rein Taaramae are starting to ride a little harder on the front of the breakaway, while Luke Rowe has inched his way into position near the front of peloton, the Ineos road captain monitoring the riders of Groupama-FDJ who are hoping to set up their leader Thibaut Pinot today.
— Équipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ (@GroupamaFDJ) July 20, 2019
66km to go
Unsurprisingly, a number of the faster men are now struggling as the road rises up on the lower slopes of the Soulor as they fall out of the back of the peloton. The gap on the break is just 2min 25sec.
With a strong break, @GroupamaFDJ have already started driving the bunch, the first 40km of stage 14 have been covered at a very hard pace.
Attackers - 46.4km/h
Peloton - 44.0km/h
The gap is down to 2' as the break faces the first slopes up Col du Soulor.#TDF2019#TDFdatapic.twitter.com/9o8KMwiRgS
— letourdata (@letourdata) July 20, 2019
67.5km to go
The breakaway has been climbing for some time, but has only just reached the climb 'proper'. The riders all appear to be working well together, although their advantage on the peloton has dropped slightly by around 10sec.
70km to go
The leading riders are approaching the first serious climb of the day, the category one Col du Soulor.
Numbers . .
.@vincenzonibali, one of the only 7 riders to have won all three Grand Tours, is on the hunt for a 6th #TDF stage win.
Among the #TDF2019 participants, only Peter Sagan and André Greipel won more stages than him.#TDFdatapic.twitter.com/7tFflTIzMB
— letourdata (@letourdata) July 20, 2019
80km to go
Eagle-eyed readers out there will have noticed that Groupama-FDJ has one rider – Mathieu Ladagnous – in the breakaway. One can only guess that Ladagnous has been put in that group to act as a satellite rider on behalf of his team leader Thibaut Pinot later in the day. Back in the peloton, which trails at 2min 51sec, Groupama-FDJ are riding on the front which would suggest that they are confident of setting up Pinot for the stage win atop the Tourmalet today.
That breakaway in full . . .
. . . comprises 17 riders: Lilian Calmejane (Total-Direct Énergie, Fra), Élie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic, Fra), Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin, Aut), Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates, Col), Lennard Kämna (Sunweb, Ger), Mathieu Ladagnous (Groupama-FDJ, Fra), Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale, Fra), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Gobert, Fra), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida, Slo), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida, Ita), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe, Svk), Luis León Sánchez (Astana, Spa), Romain Sicard (Total-Direct Énergie, Fra), Rein Taaramae (Total-Direct Énergie, Est), Carlos Verona (Movistar, Spa), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal, Bel) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin, Rus).
Pierre-Luc Périchon(Cofidis Solutions Crédits, Fra) and Simon Geschke (CCC Team, Ger) are stuck in no man's land between the breakaway and the peloton which trails by 2min 30sec.
95km to go
Vincenzo Nibali goes over the category four Côté de Labatmale to open his account in the mountains classification. Peter Sagan let the Italian coast off up the road to take the single point on offer before Nibali, the 2015 winner of the Tour de France, sat up to allow both the Bora-Hansgrohe rider and another 15 riders to catch up.
Full details of the breakaway to follow soon. By the way, they lead the maillot jaune by a shade over two minutes.
100km to go
Tim Wellens(Lotto-Soudal, Bel), the leader in the mountains classification, has bridged over to Lennard Kämna and there's another decent looking group of around 15 riders coming up the rear. Julian Alaphilippe just almost came a cropper after bunny-hopping a piece of road furniture.
— ITV Cycling (@itvcycling) July 20, 2019
102.5km to go
Lennard Kämna(Sunweb, Ger) is chasing and is the lone pursuitist of stage leaders Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan while the peloton appears to have eased off the pace around 30sec further back.
105km to go
It has been an aggressive start to the stage, with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida, Ita) being the first to fly off the front. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe, Svk) jumped over to the shark and, as it stands, the pair are pushing on as if riding a two-up time trial.
The former team-mates from their days at Liquigas have really given this stage an almighty boot up the backside, but will they pay the price later in the day?
And they're off!
Race director Christian Prudhomme has dropped the flag to signify that today's stage, the first in the high mountains at this year's Tour de France, is finally under way. Just a reminder about today's stage, there are three categorised climbs – Côté de Labatmale, Col du Soulor and Col du Tourmalet – while the intermediate sprint in the small town of Pierrefitte-Nestalas is situated just 31.16kms from the finishing line and on the run in the the start of the final ascent of the day.
The Tourmalet, by the way, is the first of three stage finishes that go above 2,000 metres in altitude – the others being Tignes (stage 19) and Val Thorens (stage 20) which may not be great new for Julian Alaphilippe fans, as highlighted by journalist Daniel Friebe earlier today.
Julian Alaphilippe’s best result in a World Tour race/stage featuring a 2000m+ climb is his 47th place at Saint-Lary-Soulan (14mins 5secs from winner) in last year’s Tour.
2000m+ climbs in the next week: 7
— Daniel Friebe (@friebos) July 20, 2019
Calm before the storm
The riders are currently tapping away through the neutralised section in Tarbes which I understand has been extended slightly. Not 100 per cent sure why.
Good afternoon and welcome to the start of the Tour de France. That's right folks, everything we have seen so far over the previous two weeks has been little more than an amuse-bouche – ok, a quite large one – for what is on this weekend's menu and then, again, the main course which will be served up at the end of next week in the high Alpine mountains. But first to today, the relatively short, but very tough, the 117.5km run from Tarbes to the summit of the Tourmalet.
Here's what the stage profile looks like . . .
. . . and here is what can be won in the mountains classification:
Unsurprisingly, with today being a stage for the mountain goats, there are fewer points on offer to the fastmen contesting the points jersey . . .
After Friday's stunning time trial – that's three words I never thought I would need to type out – today's stage is perfectly poised for a battle royal between the general classification contenders and the current race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step, Fra) who few are expecting to carry his maillot jaune into the third week of the race. Geraint Thomas (Ineos, GB) will be looking to chip away, or even overhaul, Alaphilippe's 1min 26sec advantage. Today's final climb will be the first time to Tour goes over 2,000 metres in altitude and so it may favour one of the three Colombians in the top 10. Could the stage be one for Egan Bernal (Ineos, Col), will it be the day Nairo Quintana (Movistar, Col) finally attacks or can Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First, Col) lead the charge for the South Americans on their national day?
It's a huge day, too for Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ, Fra) who will be desperate to claw back some of the time he lost during Monday's 'day of the crosswinds'. We must not ignore Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma, Hol) either or even Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick Step, Spa) who, in fact, arrived as the general classification rider for the Belgian super-team rather than surprise leader Alaphilippe.
Away from the general classification contenders, there are a handful of others more than capable of taking the stage. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates, Irl), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma, NZ), Mikel Landa (Movistar, Spa), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott, GB) or Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott, GB) could all pull off a famous win today. I would not discount Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic, Fra), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe, Ger), Lilian Calmejane (Total-Direct Énergie, Fra), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis Solutions Crédits, Spa), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Gobert, Fra) or Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin, Rus) either. Basically what I am saying is that I have absolutely no idea who is going to win . . . although I made Pinot my captain for the day in my fantasy Tour de France team so you decide who I am backing. Anyway, it should be a cracker.
Where are we?
Here's a reminder of the route of this year's Tour de France . . .
. . . and here are the details of each and every stage at this year's race:
As it stands . . .
Here's what the standings look like in the general, points, mountains, young rider and team classifications after 13 days of racing.
The Cycling Podcast: re-cap of yesterday's stage
The Tour de France continues to intrigue and, with just over a week to go, the question of who is going to win the race is yet to be answered.
Join Richard Moore, Lionel Birnie and François Thomazeau at their hillside retreat close to Pau where they reflect on the only individual time trial stage of the Tour.
The team expected Julian Alaphilippe to still be in yellow but few thought he would win the stage and extend his lead. They ask what this means for the Tour now. Is Geraint Thomas still the favourite to win in Paris? Who were the other winners and losers in the race against the clock.
The boys recap another absorbing stage, share some behind the scenes gossip and explain why there is no episode of Outside the Team Bus.
The Cycling Podcast is supported by Rapha and Science In Sport