Michal Kwiatkowski holds off Tadej Pogacar to take solo win on Grand Colombier
Michal Kwiatkowski held off the charge of Tadej Pogacar and his UAE Team Emirates squad to take a solo win on stage 13 of the Tour de France as Jonas Vingegaard just clung on to the yellow jersey.
A year after Tom Pidcock took a Bastille Day stage win on the Alpe d’Huez, Kwiatkowski delivered for the Ineos Grenadiers on the Grand Colombier.
The former world champion caught and immediate passed four other members of the day’s break – including James Shaw – to go alone with 11km of the 17km climb remaining and had enough in reserve to stay clear of the main group of favourites.
Just as Kwiatkowski was crossing the line, Pogacar launched an attack to try to shake Vingegaard, his sights set on taking the yellow jersey.
The Slovenian managed to open up a few bike lengths and rolled in third, picking up four bonus seconds although not enough time to move into the race lead, Vingegaard’s 17-second gap at the start of the day now reduced to just nine.
Pogacar’s UAE squad had sought to control what had been a 19-strong breakaway with designs on repeating his stage victory on this mountain from 2020.
But having hit the foot of the climb four minutes behind the surviving escapees, they could not reduce that gap quickly enough, with Kwiatkowski’s margin of victory 47 seconds from fellow breakaway rider Maxim van Gils and 50 seconds from Pogacar.
Last time the Tour visited the Grand Colombier in 2020, Kwiatkowski was nursing a struggling Egan Bernal who abandoned the race two days later, but this time he could savour a second career Tour stage win.
“When I entered the break I thought, ‘this is just a free ticket to maybe the bottom of the climb’ or something like that, I never thought this group will fight for the stage win because UAE were pulling pretty hard,” the Pole said.
“But it is not easy to chase 19 guys on the flat for more than 100km… I think UAE let too many guys in the front and I found the best legs I ever had in my life. I didn’t believe that was possible but here I am.”
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