The sky was low this morning in Castelnau-Magnoac. In the Tour de France, people are less wary of a few drops than of mountainous stages: today's stage gave the impression of returning to a form of normality, with the expected sprinters in the spotlight. The Pyrenees and the repetition of the efforts generated are over. For Cofidis, the fight to keep the polka dot jersey has inevitably increased the fatigue after 18 stages.
Simon Geschke, on the other hand, was back in the polka-dot jersey: even if he is no longer leader of this classification, he is wearing it instead of Jonas Vingegaard, who is already wearing the yellow jersey. In front of the cameras before the start, the German played it down: "I knew that the challenge was going to be particularly difficult. We tried, we were over-motivated, we were close. One day you score points without making any effort, another day you have to fight and you don't succeed... That's part of what the Tour de France is, what sport is.
Still as united as ever
On the sun-scorched roads leading to Cahors (188.3km), the Cofidis riders stayed in the peloton. Their bodies had already suffered too much. At one point, they were even caught by a break. But as always, they helped each other: Simon Geschke, Anthony Perez and Benjamin Thomas took turns to get back into the peloton. A few minutes later, it was Pierre-Luc Périchon who tried his luck at the front of the peloton this time, followed by Benjamin Thomas who finished 56 seconds behind the leader.
Tomorrow, the second time trial of this Tour de France will take place between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour. On the programme, a 40,7 km long effort that is particularly demanding. The riders will then be able to breathe a sigh of relief: this Sunday, they will be able to celebrate the end of the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées.
"Mentally, I'm really tired. Physically, I was still OK but with 50 km to go, we took a restart and we were left behind. It's obviously hard. I am paying for all the efforts I made in this Tour de France and I was too tired, too far back to play something. It's a missed opportunity and it's a shame.
Alain Deloeuil, sport director:
"Obviously, it was a bit tough today. I think our riders were out of steam. We are at the end of the Tour de France, we lost the polka dot jersey yesterday... There was a little slackening after yesterday's stage. Today, we didn't have the energy and the grinta to fight for the victory, despite the good will of everyone. We will try to do well again on the two remaining stages and especially on the Champs-Élysées.