Team Sunweb put in a masterclass performance at the Tour de France this afternoon as Soren Kragh Andersen won Stage 14 of the race in Lyon.
An explosive finale with two short but tough climbs in the closing kilometres saw riders including Team Sunweb's Tiesj Benoot, Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-Quick Step and even Egan Bernal of Ineos Grenadiers try to get away, the latter's move prompting a quick response from Jumbo-Visma, who shut it straight down.
Then, approaching the 3km to go sign, Team Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi – winner two days ago in Sarran following another all-round team effort – jumped off the front.
He was quickly brought back but immediately the select group contesting the finish had reformed, including all the main overall contenders, Kragh Andersen made his move.
With team-mates covering the front of the chasing bunch, the Dane soloed his way to victory, with Mitchelton-Scott’s Luka Mezgec finishing second, a quarter of a minute later, with Simone Consonni of Cofidis third.
Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic remains in the race leader’s yellow jersey following today’s 196km stage from Clermont-Ferrand.
The Slovenian maintains a 44 second lead over his compatriot, the UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar, with defending champion Bernal 59 seconds off the race lead having lost time on the Puy Mary yesterday.
Five other riders lie within 2 minutes of the yellow jersey ahead of a huge day for the GC tomorrow, with an unprecedented summit finish on the Grand Colombier.
In the competition for the green jersey, Peter Sagan – who is aiming to win it for an unprecedented eighth time – managed to further reduce his deficit on Sam Bennett of Deceuninck-Quick Step.
With two short climbs immediately before today’s intermediate sprint, which came after 38km, Bora-Hansgrohe rode strongly for Sagan early on and successfully distanced the Irish sprinter.
With Sagan leading the peloton across after the two early escapees had gone through, he picked up 15 points, but will have been disappointed at missing out on the 50 on offer for the stage winner.
The Slovak three-time world champion finished fourth in Lyon, and now lies 43 points behind Bennett, with 219 points compared to the Deceuninck-Quick Step man’s 262 and opportunities beginning to run out to make a big inroad into that deficit.
Stage winner Soren Kragh Andersen
It’s incredible, I didn’t really believe this morning when I woke up that this would happen.
I’m really happy with the team effort from the guys today, they made it hard enough that I could find the perfect moment to attack.
I saw when I went that everybody was tired and they started to look at each other; I knew then that it was the right moment. I had good legs and could go full gas all the way to the line.
We’re taking the race in our hands, maybe we don’t realise it’s the Tour de France – but we’re just racing and it happens to be on the biggest stage in the world.
Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston
The guys really bounce off each other, they’ve got a really good team spirit; they’re just all in for a Team Sunweb win.
We used that to our advantage with Tiesj’s attack first then Marc marking some of the key guys on the climb, and then Søren saw a good opportunity to launch his attack.
I think across the board the whole team really worked well, brought the guys into position and Casper was also there and waiting for the sprint.
We tried to cover all the bases as we knew this was a stage that suited our team and we hoped to get a good result from it, which we did. Everyone is really happy now and we move on towards the final week.
Race leader Primoz Roglic
I thought and I had hoped the stage would be a lot easier today”, Roglic said. “It was full throttle from the start due to the work of Bora and CCC.
It’s true that we didn’t have to pull, but we still had to stay focused and we had to keep riding in the front. Especially in the technical final.
The team was very strong again. It was incredible what the boys did and how quickly they responded to Bernal’s attack. The Tour is the Tour and anything can happen every day. We cannot falter.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.