QUILLAN, France (AFP) – Dutchman Bauke Mollema won Stage 14 of the Tour de France on a baking run from the citadel at Carcassonne to the small town of Quillan at the foot of the Pyrenees on Saturday (July 10).
Overall leader Tadej Pogacar was under no threat as he finished some seven minutes adrift, although Frenchman Guillaume Martin of Cofidis closed to second overall around three minutes behind the Slovenian.
“It was really hard, but I saw an opportunity even if it took a great deal of energy,” said Martin, the author of the novel Socrates On A Bike and who studied philosophy.
“I’ll need to get back on form for tomorrow, this is the Tour, today it paid off, but who knows.”
It was a gruelling stage, exposed to beating heat, along narrow, winding Pyrenean foothill roads dotted with patches of melting tarmac.
The 2018 champion Geraint Thomas and world champion Julian Alaphilippe dropped off the back of the peloton with 20km to go when it became clear the overall leader’s chasing group would not catch the escape.
“Some of the guys in the escape group were not working so I went from 45km on my own,” explained the 34-year-old after winning his second Tour de France stage.
After Mark Cavendish matched “The Cannibal” Eddy Merckx’s 46-year-old record for stage wins on Friday, French daily L’Equipe called the Manxman the “Sprint Cannibal”.
But the Deceuninck man was eating the peloton’s dust from the first slopes and trailed by seven minutes halfway along the route and was battling to beat the time cut for expulsions.
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