The Alps are now a hot memory of the summer. The ascent of these mythical passes, the fury of the spectators and the battle of every moment is already behind the riders. The peloton is still on its way and the scorching heat is getting a little bit more present far from the mountains. This Friday, the riders left Isère (Bourg-d'Oisans) for the Loire (Saint-Etienne) with 192,6 km, three listed climbs and a finish that made the sprinters want to go.
After the presence in the break of Anthony Perez, Simon Geschke and Ion Izagirre in the last days, it was Pierre-Luc Périchon's turn to try his luck in the first kilometres. Five of them broke away from the pack before being caught again, despite the selflessness of the road captain, who was alone in the lead for a while before the côte de Brié.
The Cofidis riders then stayed in the peloton, already thinking about tomorrow's stage. Always concentrated to avoid crashes, breaks and to resist to the pace. At the end of the 3rd hour of the race, Victor Lafay put his foot down. At 26 years old, he will not finish his first Tour de France.
For several days now, the rider has been fighting against the fate of the race, exhausted by the repetition of his efforts. In difficulty in the Alps, he had held on. But his will wasn't enough to continue.
This is a big blow for the Nordic team after the departure of Guillaume Martin, who tested positive last Sunday. From now on, Simon Geschke, Ion Izagirre, Anthony Perez, Pierre-Luc Périchon, Benjamin Thomas and Max Walscheid will have to fight for their team-mates, for themselves and for their colours.
Pierre-Luc Périchon: "At the beginning of the stage, I tried to do everything I could to get into the breakaway. Then, we were joined in the climb by a group of about 20 riders. We thought that the break was done but the peloton caught us. Then it was a bit of a counter-attack but I had left a lot of energy. I could have gone with the breakaway but I wouldn't have had enough strength at the end to compete for the victory. I preferred to come back to the peloton and save myself to be able to go back in the next days. I think that from tomorrow on, there will still be opportunities for the breakaway to go to the end."
Simon Geschke: "At the start it was still hectic. Many riders wanted to get into the breakaway. For the polka dot jersey, there were few points today so there was less pressure. It was a calm day, even if we had to watch out for the wind and the tension in the peloton. Tomorrow, we will probably have to go in the breakaway. It will be a different story!
Alain Deloeuil, sport director: "We knew that this was a stage that was favourable to breakaways. That's what happened and they went all the way. Pierre-Luc tried his luck, he was in front but was caught. There are no regrets as there were some great riders in front. We have done another good stage. The downside is the withdrawal of Victor. He suffered a lot in the last days and couldn't finish the stage. I hope that he will be able to get back to work quickly to have a good end of the season.