With yesterday’s final rest day behind them, the peloton made their first foray into the Pyrenees this afternoon; with a stage that featured two challenging climbs and a long descent and flat run to the finish. It was a fast start to the day but despite a big fight expected for the breakaway to form; a large group of 29 managed to break the shackles in the opening ten kilometres with Nils Eekhoff infiltrating it for the team.
A good pace was set in the break and with only the yellow jersey’s team riding at the front in the peloton, the gap had expanded to almost nine minutes as they hit the first of the two ascents; where the attacks immediately started. Instead of going into the red to try and follow, Eekhoff rode at his own tempo, aiming to make it over the top to then be able to support in the yellow jersey group.
As the kilometres ticked by Chris Hamilton, Andreas Leknessund and Romain Bardet were ever present towards the front of the peloton but at around two kilometres from the summit Pogacar attacked which started a frenzy of moves. Leknessund initially closed the gap well but after the next acceleration, Bardet had a tough moment and had to let go of the wheels.
Regrouping well, Eekhoff joined the trio of Hamilton, Bardet and Leknessund over the top; and the Team DSM quartet flew down the descent, riding brilliantly together to pull back the 40 second gap to the yellow jersey group. On the early slopes of the Mur de Péguère Eekhoff swung off after some great positioning work, bringing Bardet, Hamilton and Leknessund to the fore.
As they progressed up the climb the gradients reached double digits and an infernal pace was set at the front with the group splintering and Bardet had to ride at his own pace. He was well supported and flanked by Leknessund and Hamilton who stayed with him over the summit. Pushing down the descent and never giving up all the way to the finish, the Team DSM trio crossed the line together three minutes and 36 seconds behind the yellow jersey group.