21/07/18 - 12:10
Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Mende
Tour de France • Stage14

Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Mende

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New top 10 as Martin drops a place following his puncture.


So, after all that activity, the gaps were fairly minimal - despite many saying they would be bigger than on Alpe d'Huez. We'll wait for an updated general classification, but Geraint Thomas is still very much in yellow and there'll be no change between him and his two nearest opponents Froome and Dumoulin.


Roglic powers over the line after the zippy descent - he will take some time back on a few of his rivals. There's about five seconds before Froome, Thomas and Dumoulin come home. Quintana then comes a few seconds later before another group including Kruijswijk, Bardet and Bernal.


Now Froome attacks! Thomas then takes over! Quintana is dropped but Dumoulin bridges over. They're a few seconds behind Roglic going over the summit...


Boos rain down on the Sky riders - and someone appears to throw water (or something else) over Froome. Dumoulin then puts in a big dig! Bardet is distanced but Quintana, Thomas and Froome latch on. Roglic is still ahead.


Bernal takes it up for Thomas after Kwiatkowski falls back. Dumoulin fights hard to get back on - but he's a few bike lengths behind Froome, who has closed the gap. Quintana, Bardet and Kruijswijk are still there alongside Thomas and Bernal.


Roglic now makes his move to open up a very small gap. Behind it's Kwiatkowski who still sets tempo for Thomas in pursuit of Roglic. And Dumoulin is starting to get distanced along with Landa, Valverde and almost Froome...


Landa makes the first move and that draws out Kruijswijk and Roglic. Kwiatjowski and Thomas are right there.


About 20 riders left in this GC group now. Quintana, Landa and Valverde all still there but keeping quiet. Jungels on the back.


Froome and Dumoulin are next to each other but not near the front, where Thomas rides alongside Kwiaktowski, Bardet, Roglic, Kruijswijl and Bernal.


Adam Yates already off the back... Ag2R-La Mondiale are on the front and Thomas is in a very good position - although Froome looks to be a bit off at the moment...


Puncture for Dan Martin - at the worse possible moment. The Irishman will have a fierce fight to make it back on and is bound to lose more time today. So unlucky...


Meanwhile, we rejoin the GC battle as the peloton approaches Mende ahead of the final decisive climb. Already there's a big jostle for positions - and it's Movistar on the front and Sky a bit out of position.


The confirmed top 10 for today's stage.


Bravo, Peter Sagan! The world champion comes home just 12 seconds down for fourth place to take yet more green jersey points, while Damiano Caruso completes the top five before Geschke, Edet, Calmejane, Impey and De Gendt arrive in dribs and drabs.


There wasn't enough road for Julian Alaphilippe who has to settle for second place ahead of the brave Jasper Stuyven, who came so close to a memorable victory himself.


Victory for Omar Fraile of Astana! The first in the Tour for the Basque climber.


Under the banner goes Fraile and the win is his if he can stay on his bike for this downhill run to the line. Behind, Stuyven and Alaphilippe join forces in the chase but it will be in vain.


Fraile crests the summit to take the five points. Alaphilippe will take three points for his KOM tally - but he won't care about that for now...


Alaphilippe now catches Stuyven but he'll still have his work cut out to catch Fraile. If the two work together then we could be in for a fantastic three-way finale.


Stuyven is caught by Fraile - but Alaphilippe is closing in through the crowds...


Now Alaphilippe goes! The Frenchman dances clear of the other chasers - and he will surely catch Fraile soon.


Stuyven has 30 seconds on Fraile and 50 seconds on Martinez and the other chasers. Fraile is really fighting this climb. Behind it's actually Geschke who now leads the chase ahead of Martinez, but Sagan is still there...


Stuyven is halfway up the climb now. Behind, Dani Martinez attacks from the chase group, which includes Alaphilippe and, still, just, Sagan.


Fraile starts to tire as he hits that steep double-digit section. De Gendt is caught by the chasers - and Sagan is still there, albeit hanging on just off the back.


The two chasers have 10 riders in pursuit - and one of those is Peter Sagan, who amazingly is still there. Meanwhile, Stuyven hits the 11% gradient and is weaving all over the road. Behind, Fraile attacks and rides clear of De Gendt, who looks cooked.


The first attack comes from De Gendt who zips clear with Fraile in pursuit. They open a small gap over the others.


Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) hits the start of the final climb, the Cat.2 Cote de la Croix Neuve (3km at 10.2%). He has 1'42" on the chasing group. The peloton has only just passed the 20km to go mark.


We're entering Mende now...


Meanwhile, Thomas Boudat - who was in the early 32-man break - has been caught by the peloton, which trails our lone leader by 19'45". So, stay tuned after today's stage battle because there will be a separate yellow jersey tussle between the big guns.


Almost two minutes for Stuyven now, who is burying himself so much that you can't imagine anything other that total implosion on the final climb.


Stuyven zips under the 10-to-go banner and behind it's the second group that contains Lampaert which has almost regained contact. So, Julian Alaphilippe has Gilbert driving the chase and Lampaert as a reinforcement behind.


Peter Sagan is right on the back of this chase group and - as immense as he is - it would be a huge surprise to see the world champion get over that steep climb and win a fourth stage today.


BMC are now doing a lot of the chase work through Caruso and Van Avermaet - but it's all a bit over the place for the 19 riders in pursuit as Stuyven continues to defy his former breakaway companions.


There's not much order in the chase group and De Gendt is the latest rider to open up a gap as he tries to gee them up. Stuyven has increased his lead to 1'40" now.


You have to fear for Stuyven for he's no climber and he's burying himself on this long gradual downhill towards Mende. He's 1.4km ahead of his chasers - that's 1'35" in temporal money. Can he hold on? With the calibre of climbers behind him, it's doubtful.


The last time the Tour came to Mende it was Steve Cummings who took the win by outfoxing French duo Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot in 2015. Here's how he did it.


Izagirre and Slagter have been caught by the chasers after De Gendt and Calmejane bridged over. They trail the lone leader Stuyven by just over a minute, with the peloton almost 18 minutes back.


Here's a taste of what's to come on that final climb to the Mende airfield with our man Juan...

Video - What can we expect on stage 14? Juan Antonio Flecha checks out an intense finish


It's got very blustery up on this ridge, which is over 1,000m high. Stuyven is making light work of this headwind as he opens up a good gap over his pursuers. He has 25 seconds over Izagirre and Slagter, with the reformed chase group 1'15" back.


Stuyven attacks while Izagirre is having harsh words with Slagter, who's apparently not pulling his weight. Behind the numerous chase groups seem to be coming back together as Sagan and Van Avermaet combine to pull the second group back towards the first.


Gilbert and Calmejane have fought back into the leading chase group. Fraile and Martinez are here too - it's about a baker's dozen. They trail the three leaders by about a minute now.


As for the peloton, they're a huge 16 minutes down - and Sky have not had to do anything today, which will be very welcome for them. Moscon and Rowe are still the men on the front but Sunweb and LottoNL-Jumbo are more prevalent now.


The chase is really breaking up on a leg-sapping uncategorised climb. The likes of Sagan and Van Avermaet have been left for dead, while Lampaert has also gone - and Amador. The hard man are shining though with the likes of De Gendt, Geschke, Edet, Alaphilippe, Rolland, Caruso and a few others drilling the tempo in the chase.


The gap is up to 1'40" for the three leaders, which is pretty impressive. That said, a rider like Thomas De Gendt rarely misses a defining move- and if he didn't see this move as a threat then it probably goes to show that it may not prove to be so...


The chasing group is down to 22 riders after losing a few bodies on those last two climbs: Caruso, Van Avermaet, Geschke, Rolland, Calmejane, Alaphilippe, Chavanel, Martinez, Keung, Gilbert, Impey, Sagan, Amador, Edet, De Gendt, Degand, Fraile, Lampaert, Cousin, Koren, Perez and Vermote.


Stuyven leads the three leaders over the top ahead of Izagirre. They have a good minute's gap on the chasing escapees, which is promising. Although there's still a couple of hills before the drop down towards Mende and the foot of the final climb.


The three leaders and the other escapees are onto the third categorised climb, the Cat.3 Col du Pont Sans Eau (3.3km at 6.3%). Izagirre, Slagter and Stuyven have 40 seconds on the chasers, who are being strung out by the hefty pace-setting of Lampaert, who is really drilling it now to shed some of the dead wood.


Meanwhile, the main pack comes over the summit of the climb a huge 14'18" down with Dutchmen Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Laurens ten Dam (Team Sunweb) edging clear to pick up fresh bidons from soigneurs waiting on the top.


Jasper Stuyven has attacked on the plateau atop the climb and he joins Slagter before together bridging over to Izagirre. This stands a better chance of working and the gap is 30 seconds. Meanwhile, the peloton is now 12 minutes back so we're definitely going to see two battles today - for the stage and for GC.


Izagirre takes first place over the summit of the climb with Slagter coming over about 20 seconds down and about 10 seconds clear of the other chasers, who are led over by Alaphilippe, who consolidates his lead in the polka dot jersey competition by adding another two points.


Now there's an acceleration by Tom Jelte Slagter of Dimension Data who decides Izagirre is too dangerous a treat to give too much rope (to mix metaphors).


No response as yet from the other escapees, who are being driven up this climb by Yves Lampaert and Stefan Kueng. They trail Izagirre by 30 seconds


The first attack comes from Gorka Izagirre the Spanish national champion from Bahrain Merida. He's not going full gas but he probably wants to light a fuse in this move and try to force a selection so that a stronger, smaller group can ride on towards the finish with a better chance of winning.


We should see this large break start to splinter soon on this climb. There's so much at stake and many teams are so well represented that they will try to play one or two cards early rather than wait until the lottery of the final climb.


Pat Bevin has got off his bike and into the BMC team car. He's the 25th rider to leave this Tour as we drop to 151 riders remaining in the race.


We're onto the Cat.2 Col de la Croix de Berthel (9.1km at 5.3%). Sky have given up regulating the gap, which is now almost 10 minutes.


Off the top of my head and without checking I'd say that the 10 previous Tour stage winners in this break are: Van Avermaet, Geschke, Rolland, Calmejane, Alaphilippe, Chavanel, Gilbert, Sagan, De Gendt. For the final berth, I'm not 100% sure. Perhaps Izagirre or Stuyven? Maybe Amador?


Can you name them all?


The next climb is approaching and still this group is riding together as one. Meanwhile, off the back of the peloton it's Kiwi Pat Bevin, who is struggling something rotten. The BMC rider must be very ill because he looks rough and it won't be a surprise to see him get into the team car soon...


I didn't mention Omar Fraile in my run-through of potential winners - the Spanish climber from Astana is clearly one to watch. He won a stage in the Giro in 2017 and came second in a stage in the Vuelta that same year, having won the mountains classification the previous two years.


It will be the fifth Tour stage finish in Mende today after 1995 (Laurent Jalabert), 2005 (Marcos Serrano), 2010 (Joaquim Rodriguez) and 2015 (Stephen Cummings). After taking a massive five minutes off the five-time Tour champion Miguel Indurain on the Cote de la Croix Neuve in 1995, the French inaugural winner saw the climb renamed the Montée Laurent Jalabert - although that was undone a few years ago when JaJa admitted to having taken performance-enhancing drugs during his career.


The gap is up to 8'10" now for the 32 leaders with Team Sky happy to take things easy before what will no doubt be a hectic conclusion.


Other riders to consider today. Van Avermaet has proved his climbing legs already in this Tour, while his team-mate Caruso is strong going uphill. Rolland needs no introduction even if his Tour stage-winning days seem something of the distant past. Geschke memorably won in Pra Loup and could spring a surprise, while Gorka Izagirre is free to ride now that team-mate Nibali is out of the race. Dani Martinez is a good outsider, although Quick-Step hold a super strong hand with Alaphilippe, Gilbert and Lampaert. Slagter is a dark horse, but Sagan will not survive the climb to Mende. There's logic behind a win for either De Gendt and Amador, too. Very hard one to call!


None of the wildcard teams have had a win yet in this Tour. Heck, Cofidis haven't had a win on the Tour in a decade! They've given themselves a good shot today with four riders in this break: Turgis, Perez, Laporte and Edet. Direct Energie have five, so clearly mean business, and they're probably riders better suited to the terrain: Chavanel, Calmejane, Boudat, Cousin and Gaudin. Of those, Calmejane is the obvious choice and has matches to burn in the build up to the final climb to Mende. Meanwhile, there are no Fortuneo riders here while Wanty-Groupe Gobert have just the one in Thomas Degand.


Puncture for Adam Yates, but that's ok because it's the feed zone straight afterwards and so he's able to get back into the peloton pretty easily. Yates had the same kind of day on Alpe d'Huez as his brother Simon has on the Colle delle Finestre during the Giro. He's now a huge 36 minutes down on GC and will be hunting a stage in the final week of the race to save his Tour.


Here was that intermediate sprint at Besseges, which plays host to the annual Etoile de Besseges stage race. The pack passes through seven minutes down on the escapees.


Peter Sagan wins the intermediate sprint despite a spirited challenge from Thomas Boudat, who he admonishes for his petulance afterwards. The two have a chat, Boudat makes his case, then pats the Slovakian on the bum and they seem to make up. Sagan is now onto 418 points in his inevitable march towards a record-equalling sixth green jersey.


Peter Sagan has come to the front of the break on this sweeping descent because of the approaching intermediate sprint. Meanwhile, the Sky-led peloton approach the summit of the climb amid much cheering but also some inevitable boos from the French public.


It's an easy point for Alaphilippe going over the summit with Pierre Rolland offering slight resistance before realising the pointlessness of it. Perhaps that's not the right word given the prize over the summit - but Rolland, currently on 23 KOM points, is not exactly a threat to his compatriot, who is now on 85pts.


The 32 leaders are onto the top of the Cat.4 Cote du Grand Chataignier (1km at 7.4%) and Quick-Step's Belgian champion Yves Lampaert is pacing his team-mate Julian Alaphilippe, the polka dot jersey, on the front.


It's all Sky on the front of the strung-out peloton with Luke Rowe and Gianni Moscon tapping out tempo. Everyone's riding in team formation with the Sunweb team of Tom Dumoulin tucked in just behind their rivals Sky. Because they're both in black and white, it gives an ominous front to the pack. Still, the gap continues to increase: 6'45" at the moment as we approach the first of four categorised climbs.


The gap has edged above six minutes for the first time. There's no way the stage won't be won by one of these 32 riders now. Who are you picks? Discuss in the comments below or Tweet me @saddleblaze and I'll include your thoughts in the live commentary.


The pace is very high today - the top of the predicted speeds prior to the stage. There will be some weary legs - and already, a split has momentarily appeared in the break... I imagine it will blow apart into smaller groups once we hit the first climb.


There may only be 13pts up for grabs in the king of the mountains competition but those could help Julian Alaphilippe build up a little buffer in his quest to take the polka dot jersey all the way to Paris. The Frenchman currently leads last years king of the mountains Warren Barguil by 84 points to 70 points with Belgian Serge Pauwels in third on 63.


One of the escapees knows what it's like to win in Mende: Anthony Perez, who was part of the initial four-man move today, won stage 2 of the Tour du Gévaudan in Mende last year. The race used the Cote de la Croix-Neuve twice although it finished in the city centre and not at the airfield. The gap is up to 5'20".


Fittingly there are seven Belgian riders in the break on Belgium's national day: Lampaert (who sports the national colours as national champion), Vermote, Degand, Van Avermaet, Stuyven, Gilbert and De Gendt.


The break has just passed the beautiful Vallon Pont d'Arc with a gap of almost five minutes on the pack.


Sagan will be after some intermediate sprint points in about 40km - not that he needs then. The Slovakian has 398pts in the green jersey classification - 228 more than his nearest opponent, Alexander Kristoff. Sagan's trick is consistency. He's won three times so far and, prior to the three Alpine stages, finished in the top 10 every stage and only out of the top 5 twice.

Video - Ask Sagan Episode 13 - Peter is joined by a very special guest!


The gap is up to 4'45" for the 32 leaders with Pater Sagan currently off the back picking up water bottles from his Bora-Hansgrohe team car.


A reminder that Welshman Thomas leads the standings by 1'39" over his Sky team-mate Froome, with their nearest challenger being the rangy Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb, a further 11 seconds back. Primoz Roglic is fourth at 2'46" and Romain Bardet fifth at 3'07". The remainder of the top 10 - Mikel Landa, Steven Kruijswijk, Nairo Quintana, Dan Martin and Jakob Fuglsang - all ride within 5'45.


Team Sky have taken up their habitual position on the front of the pack as they control the tempo and monitor the situation for their men Thomas and Froome. The gap for the break is up to 4'30" but no one is a GC threat on the yellow jersey or four-time Tour champ: the best placed is Damiano Caruso, but he's almost 40 minutes down.


One team to miss out on this large break is the French wildcard team Fortuneo-Samsic, who were busy helping Warren Barguil - caught out in the crosswinds - to get back into the fold when the break formed. Seems very odd considering that Barguil is well down on GC now. Perhaps he'd targeted today for the stage win and the team hoped he could still be a factor. As it is, it's an opportunity missed for the Brittany-based team.


Courtesy of letour.fr here's the full composition of the large 32-man break: Dani Martinez and Pierre Rolland (EF), Simon Geschke (Sunweb), Gorka Izagirre and Kristjian Koren (Bahrain-Merida), Michael Hepburn and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Damiano Caruso, Stefan Küng and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Julian Alaphilippe, Philippe Gilbert and Yves Lampaert (Quick Step), Peter Sagan and Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), Omar Fraile (Astana), Tom-Jelte Slagter and Julien Vermote (Dimension Data), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane, Jérôme Cousin, Thomas Boudat, Sylvain Chavanel and Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie), Michael Gogl and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Christophe Laporte, Nicolas Edet, Anthony Perez and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis), Thomas Degand (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).


Yes, it's come back together. So we now have a classy - but massive - 32-man break. They have 3'30" to play with and it's highly likely that today's stage winner will come from this move.


It's a strong seven-man break - Andrey Amador (Movistar), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step), Omar Fraile (Astana), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Lilian Calmejane and Jérôme Cousin (Direct Energie) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) - but they may struggle to hold on given the quality of the riders behind, where we have the likes of Caruso, Van Avermaet, Rolland, Izagirre, Chavanel, Martinez, Gilbert, Impey, Slagter, Sagan, Stuyven, Lampaert, Laporte, Gaudin...


The four leaders have been joined by three new sets of legs: Direct Energie duo Lilian Calmejane and Jerome Cousin, and the Costa Rican Andrey Amador of Movistar. They have about 35 seconds on a chasing group of around 25 riders - including the green jersey Peter Sagan - while the peloton is now back at three minutes.


It's calming down now with four riders out ahead not - Alaphlippe, De Gendt, Fraile and Anthony Perez of Cofidis. There's a large chase group of around 30 riders including some top stage hunters but no GC favourites (as far as we're aware) while Team Sky have locked down the front of the peloton, which rides at 1'10", while some top names (including the yellow jersey Geraint Thomas) takes a leak. Thanks to this slowing of the tempo, those riders who were caught out have managed to rejoin the peloton - so a let-off there for Messrs Bardet and Landa, among others.


Sky's main men Froome and Thomas were attentive to those splits and are in the main peloton, but Bardet and Valverde are in a group 30 seconds back, while the likes of Jungels, Dan Martin, Roglic and the white jersey Latour are in a third group, and Landa and Barguil in a fourth group. Devastation from the outset.


On the front it's Alaphilippe and De Gendt who are the most active - and they've just ridden clear of the main field along with Omar Fraile and a Cofidis rider. There's a Direct Energie rider trying to chase over...


Riders are all over the place with numerous splinter groups off the front of the main pack and a couple of smaller groups off the back. Romain Bardet has been caught out while Mikel Landa rides in a group 45 seconds off the pace. We're hearing that Primoz Roglic has been caught out too. Frenetic from the outset today.


ECHELONS! The crosswinds have caused some early problems as the peloton is blown apart... We were warned this may happen!


That Alaphilippe move came to nothing after Thomas De Gendt and Sylvain Chavanel both put in counter attacks. The pace is very high and the peloton is really strung out. It's going to be a fierce battle to get in the break today.


ATTACK: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) goes clear from the gun. He's the man in the polka dot jersey and although there are 13 KOM points up for grabs today, his motivation will be for a second stage win. He's the kind of punchy rider who will be among the favourites to win today - should it come down to a break, and not a GC battle.


Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and the stage is underway...


The remaining 152 riders in this race are rolling through the short neutral zone and the racing is about to get under way. It's another sunny day in France with the temperature currently 26 degrees.


And here's a video of the demanding route - a potential banana skin of a ride into the heart of France.

Video - Tour de France 2018: Stage 14 Profile


Messieurs Bardet and Pinot had their pockets picked by Steve Cummings the last time the Tour came to Mende in 2015. A tricky day in the Massif Central includes three categorised climbs ahead of the decisive Cote de la Croix Neuve – also known as the Montee Laurent Jalabert – before the road drops for what is usually an exciting and unpredictable finish at the Mende aerodrome. This is one for the breakaway specialists rather than the GC riders – although Team Sky will be on red alert. Here's the official profile of today's intriguing stage...


Yesterday, Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan powered past Alexander Kristoff and Arnaud Demare to take his third victory of this year’s Tour as Britain’s Geraint Thomas retained the yellow jersey in an otherwise sedate transitional Stage 13 to Valence in the Rhone valley. A perfect lead-out from his Groupama-FDJ team-mates put Frenchman Demare in an excellent position on the home straight, but Sagan surged clear form the slipstream of Norway’s Kristoff to deny the European champion a first win on the Tour since 2014. Read more below...


Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to the third weekend of the Tour de France - and it's a foray into the Massif Central with this rolling 188km stage 14 that includes four categorised climbs (but no beasts) ahead of an exciting finale at the Mende aerodrome.