He had warned: he did not intend to keep a low profile. Slovenian champion Matej Mohoric, whose Bahrain Victorious team is the target of a preliminary investigation for doping suspicions, won alone at the end of the 19e stage between Mourenx (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and Libourne (Gironde), Friday July 16. He thus signed his second stage victory in the Tour de France, after having already raised his arms at Le Creusot (Saône-et-Loire) in the first week. He also awarded himself the prize for fighting spirit.
Above all, he crossed the line with his index finger over his mouth. A “shhh” launched to critics who doubt the performance of his training. “I was treated like a criminal. For me, it shows that we have been checked and that nothing has been found. It’s still complicated to see a policeman come and search your room. I had nothing to hide “, he explained after the arrival.
Mohoric, alone against ten
The day, which promised to be rather quiet, at the exit of the Pyrenees, was finally much more animated than expected. The runners did not disconnect at any time, between the falls and the various running movements. The first two hours of the day were done at an average of 47 km / h.
A collective fall, in which two teammates of the yellow jersey – the Polish Rafal Majka and the Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen – were caught, gave the opportunity to Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos-Grenadiers), among others, to push his advantage. This led Tadej Pogacar in person, in four pedal strokes, to leave his reserve and come to criticize the slingers. First pike sent by Pogacar. Was the peloton looking for a boss? What if he had found it two days before the arrival of the Tour in Paris?
As the peloton seemed to be moving along at its cruising speed, a few bold people decided it was time to move. Kwiatkowski was back in the game, accompanied by Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels p / b KTM), Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) and Jelle Wallays (Cofidis).
At kilometer 93, the riders were engaged on endless straight lines in the middle of the Landes forest. The peloton saw the 20 leading men in the distance, but 56 seconds separated the two groups. The escapees continued their efforts at nearly 50 km / h, unlike the peloton which was advancing at 30 km / h. As a result, 70 km from the finish, the gap rose to 6 minutes and 41 seconds.
The lawsuit initiated by the Israel Start-Up Nation has yielded nothing. The peloton finally agreed to let it go. And the gap has widened further in favor of the fugitives. In this breakaway was the incredible Franck Bonnamour (B&B p / b KTM), untenable since the start of the Tour – for his first participation.
Then, the leading group broke for the umpteenth time at Cadillac, 38 km from the goal. Before reforming. Then to stretch again. At the 25 km banner, the Slovenian Mohoric lay down on his handlebars and, with power, gained ten meters ahead of what was left of the breakaway. Then he sprayed it, at an average of 48 km / h. Alone against ten. Rolling up a gear to peel off the coating, without turning your legs, just with the force of a power hammer.
We should still gossip in the peloton as the performance is reminiscent of the hyperpower of a beautiful specimen, the symbol of raw power: the German Stefan Schumacher who, with an average of 49.5 km / h over 29 km at Cholet, in 2008, crushed competition and stage (it was a time trial).
Cavendish consolidates his green jersey
In his defense, Mohoric is a pure roller who took advantage of the disorganization of the breakaway. He looked like an escaped convict. The story is superb. It is that of a guy who wins the longest stages only with the force of the calves and on top of that the two days after a search, during which he affirmed that he did not understand the doubts and suspicions which surround his team.
Mohoric gives the impression of sliding on compressed air on this Tour. A bit like an airboat powered by a thousand legs hidden under a puffy skirt. It is certainly a Slovenian invention. Never tired, never broken down, never overhauled, always on time and sometimes even ahead, like yesterday on the schedule and with 20 minutes on the peloton.
Other information of the day: the Briton Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) is almost guaranteed to arrive in green on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday. “You must not sell the skin of the bear before having killed it”, he simply said.
Tomorrow, it’s time for the second individual time trial of this edition: 30.8 km between Libourne and Saint-Emilion. After his disappointment between Changé and Laval (Mayenne), will the Swiss Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) take his revenge on Tadej Pogacar, who was then 19 seconds ahead?
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