Photo Credit: Cor Vos
A rolling 207 kilometre long parcours awaited the peloton this afternoon as they left the start town of Mourenx. A fierce start was expected to the stage, as numerous teams looked to make it into the breakaway and upset the sprinters. As in previous stages, the team were prominent and to the fore, covering any large moves, before a six rider group managed to slip away. With the peloton content at that moment, those ahead were able to build up an advantage of around four minutes before the bunch started to chase.
It seemed as if the race was settled and it would be a normal sprint stage but a flurry of attacks with 140 kilometres still to go shook the race up. Attentive at the front, Casper Pedersen made it into a large 20 rider chase group that set off in pursuit of those at the head of the race. Teams that missed the move kept the pace high in the peloton and at one point the three groups were separated by less than a minute. Eventually the elastic snapped after some incredibly hard and fast riding, with Pedersen’s breakaway building up a ten minute advantage with 50 kilometres to go; ensuring they would fight it out for the stage win.
Things became incredibly tactical as the group whittled down, with attack after attack put in at the head of the race. Pedersen rode exceptionally well, continuing to force the pace and a group of 12 riders forged on with 35 kilometres to go. The group worked well together for a little while, before the attacks started once gain, where Pedersen was incredibly active for the team but he wasn’t able to get a smaller group clear. Heading into the last 20 kilometres, eventual stage winner Mohoric put in an attack and with the rest of the group looking at each other and the tactical games continuing, his gap began to expand.
With the stage win gone, the fight for the final two podium positions was just as equally intense with multiple attacks made on the run in. Pedersen tried several of his own, before launching one final well timed move going under two kilometres to go and gaining a gap. The chasers countered and Laporte eventually bridged across to him inside 500 metres to go, but Pedersen hung on for a brilliant third place on the line for the team; claiming his first ever Tour de France podium finish.