Asgreen close to doubling up at Le Tour
Kasper Asgreen produced another fantastic ride in what was arguably the best stage of this edition – which the breakaway rode at an insane 49km/h average speed – coming just a tire’s width from what would have been his second consecutive victory at the race.
The powerful Dane was part of a three-man group that managed to get away on the day’s final climb from a much larger group, where our Soudal Quick-Step team had also Julian Alaphilippe, the man who actually instigated the main breakaway of this stage to Poligny, where the Tour de France arrived for the first time. The move was helped by the undulating roads of the Jura department, which made it really difficult for the peloton to control it, and Julian took advantage of that soon after the start to go on the attack, his move being soon imitated by other riders who then joined the Frenchman to form a strong front group.
Helped by some crosswinds which briefly split the bunch, more riders – including Kasper – bridged across and pushed the advantage to more than five minutes. That was the moment when attacks came pouring, as many of the escapees tried to distance the fast men present in the group. All the attempts were futile, until 30 kilometers to go, when Kasper upped the tempo and took two riders with him as they crested the summit.
Their slim ten-second gap quickly expanded to half a minute in just a couple of kilometers thanks to an incredible commitment of the trio, who kept the chasers at bay. After shutting down an attack of Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen), Asgreen launched his sprint again from the distance, just like on the previous stage, and looked to have the upper hand on Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), but the Slovenian came from behind and a late bike throw brought him the win for just a few centimeters.
“I’m disappointed, which is normal when you come so close. The legs were empty after yesterday, but I just followed the wheel of the other guys and found myself in the front group after another big fight to get into the breakaway. It took forever for one to form, as we raced full gas from the start, but as I felt good and was already there, I went for my chance and kept pushing with the other two guys once we opened a gap. Looking back, I don’t think I could have done anything different in the sprint, as I once again gave everything I had there”, Kasper said after his podium Friday afternoon, which came on the fastest race of the season.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images