Kwiatkowski Climbs to Victory on Bastille Day
Stage 13 of Tour de France took place on the Bastille Day (French National Day) and – though fireworks had been banned this year by the French authorities due to drought and riots - race organizer A.S.O. had tried to compensate by designing a stage that would offer great fireworks in Le Tour de France.
Friday’s Stage 13 of Tour de France 2023 was contested on a short, but very demanding, route from Chatillon-Sur-Chalaronne to the top of the mythical Grand Colombier in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region. The stage was 137.8-kilometers and would culminate on the Grand Columbier, which is an outside-category climb that features incline percentages of up to 11.1 (Hors Categorie; 17.7 km; 7%).
While the French riders would be eager to win a Tour de France stage on the Bastille Day, no one expected them to succeed as the stage profile invited the general classification favorites to battle for the stage victory and try to gain a valuable advantage over their competitors. Jonas Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma team and Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates were expected to take control of the stage and control its outcome. Would they prevail?
Action was intense from the sound of the gun. The riders were released at kilometer zero and attacks were launched immediately. The teams had many divisive interests, and the attacks were neutralized while the speed was high. It was a great show on the Bastille Day.
Frenchman Remi Cavagna (Soudal-QuickStep) tried his luck. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) joined him from behind. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Jonathan Castroviejo (Ineos-Grenadiers), Omar Fraile (Ineos-Grenadiers), and Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorius) joined the fun, but the breakaway group was caught, and it was back to square one.
After twenty-five intense kilometers a large and viable breakaway group formed. The group quickly built a one-minute lead and featured Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos-Greadiers), Quentin Pacher (Team DSM), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-QuickStep), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious), Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious), Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Hugo Houle (Israel-Premiertech), Luca Mozzato (Arkea-Samsic), Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-Dstny), Maxin van Gils (Lotto-Dstny), Cees Bol (Astana), Harold Tejada (Astana), Anthon Charmig (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), and the Adrien Petit-Mike Teunissen-Georg Zimmermann trio from Intermarche-Circus-Wanty. The three Frenchmen in the breakaway would receive great applause from the spectators along the route.
With 65 kilometers left the front group had an advantage of 02:20 minutes. The chances of a rider from the front group winning the stage looked slim and the main peloton spearheaded by Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates kept the breakaway hopefuls on a tight leash.
Bahrain-Victorious’ Mohoric and Wright were both active on the Col de la Lebe. They knew the group’s advantage was not sufficient to have a serious chance of taking a stage victory. Later, Petit was dropped on the climb. The advantage of the front group had increased to three minutes.
Frenchman Latour lost contact with the front group on the descent. The speed was high in the front group, and it had increased its lead to 03:45 minutes.
Meanwhile, at the very back of the race Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Dstny) abandoned this year’s Tour de France.
Frenchman Pacher launched an attack early on the Grand Columbier climb. He built a ten second advantage. Later, he was caught by Shaw, Tejada and Van Gils. Kwiatkowski bridged the gap to the front group in solo fashion and continued past them.
Meanwhile, in the main peloton UAE Team Emirates had increased the pace further in order to hurt Vingegaard and other general classification contenders. Pogacar looked set to launch an assault on main contender Vingegaard in the yellow jersey. Frenchman Romain Bardet (Team DSM) was dropped.
Kwiatkowski continued his solo attack and increased his lead to 55 seconds with eight kilometers left of the climb to the finish line. Five kilometers from the finish he was 55 seconds ahead of the chasers and 02:18 minutes ahead of the group featuring the general classification favorites. Marc Soler was leading for Pogacar.
Tejada, Shaw and Van Gils were chasing 01:11 minutes behind Kwiatkowski with 2.5 kilometers remaining. Shaw attacked from the chase group.
Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) attacked from the GC group. Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss countered. Pogacar and Vingegaard joined the fun.
Kwiatkowski proudly soloed across the finish line on the top of the Grand Colombier as winner of stage 13 of Tour de France 2023. Van Gils crossed the finish line 47 seconds later.
Pogacar attacked fiercely with 400 meters left. Vingegaard tried to bridge the gap. Vingegaard was unable to stay on Pogacar’s wheel and lost valuable seconds in the general classification. Pogacar also secured four bonus seconds because he finished in the top three.
Tour debutant Shaw impressively finished 7th – far ahead of the major stars in his EF Education-EasyPost team.
“I am incredibly happy with my stage victory in France on the French national day. Obviously, I had a nice advantage on the final climb, and it was a crazy experience. I never thought that this group would fight for the stage victory,” Kwiatkowski explained to Roadcycling.com.
“It would have been nice to take the stage win,” Pogacar told Roadcycling.com shortly after the finish. “But it’s good to take some seconds back in the general classification. It was a really good performance from our team today and although we didn’t take the victory it was sort of a victory in the overall race for the yellow jersey,” Pogacar explained.
In the general classification Denmark’s Vingegaard remains overall leader of Tour de France 2023, but his advantage over Pogacar has been reduced to a miniscule nine seconds. Jai Hindley is in third, 02:51 minutes behind Vingegaard. Ineos-Grenadiers’ Carlos Rodriguez is fourth with a 04:48 minute deficit. UAE Team Emirates’ Adam Yates is fifth in the GC, 05:03 minutes behind, while twin brother Simon Yates (Jayco-Alula) is sixth, 05:04 minutes behind the Dane.
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