Wow. What a week we’ve just seen at the Tour.
Things may have started off relatively serenely after the rest day but it didn’t take long for the action to hot up.
A sensational day of time-trialling – marred by the crash that led to Wout van Aert abandoning – a win from Thibaut Pinot, two for Simon Yates and an incredible weekend in the Pyrenees which has just exploded the battle for the yellow jersey.
So, with so much going on, here’s a chance to take it all in with our week two rest day recap.
Stage 11 – Albi > Toulouse – 167km
The first stage after the well-earned rest day saw Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan claim his maiden Tour victory.
The Australian, who already had a number of second and third-placed finishes to his name, beat Dylan Groenewegen on the line.Embed from Getty Images
A small breakaway got themselves out in front from the off with the sprinters’ teams happy to deploy their men to the front of the peloton to keep the four up top on a tight leash.
A crash some 30km from the end floored a host of GC contenders – including Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Richie Porte and former yellow jersey Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) – but they were able to get themselves back into the bunch.Embed from Getty Images
One rider who wasn’t so lucky was Total Direct Energie’s Niki Terpstra who was forced to abandon with a fractured scapula.
Of the breakaway pack, De Gendt – Aime of Wanty-Groupe Gobert rather than Thomas of Lotto Soudal – was the last breakaway rider swallowed by the peloton with 4.5km to go.
He was crowned most aggressive rider of the day for his efforts though.Embed from Getty Images
Ewan now has a stage win in all three Grand Tours and became the 10th different rider to win one of the 10 individual stages of this year’s Tour.
Julian Alaphilippe retained his yellow jersey after a relatively uneventful day in the saddle.
Stage Twelve – Toulouse > Bagneres-de-Bigorre – 209.5km
Mitchelton Scott’s Simon Yates became the latest rider to complete his Grand Tour stage victory set with a commanding performance into Bagneres-de-Bigorre.Embed from Getty Images
The Brit, who won the 2018 Vuelta a España, was best-placed going into the final corner and used all his tactical nouse picked up on the track to outsmart Bora’s Gregor Mühlberger and Astana’s Pello Bilbao.
The trio had all been part of a whopping 40-man break which finally got away after around 45km.
It was a day for picking up points and Peter Sagan did so at the first intermediate sprint ahead of Alexander Kristoff and Sonny Colbrelli before the latter pair were joined and then overtaken by Lilian Calmejane as the race headed up the Col de Peyresourde.Embed from Getty Images
Calmejane was caught by the front of the break right at the top and Tim Wellens was able to add another 10 points to his already-impressive KOM haul.
An attack from Simon Clarke (EF Education First) followed and he was overtaken by Matteo Trentin on the next climb before Yates, Mühlberger and Bilbao got themselves into the winning move with 28km to go.
From there the trio swapped turns on the front until the final 500m became a track-like stand-off before Yates made his move.
Stage Thirteen – Pau > Pau – 27.2km – ITT
Any lingering doubts over whether Alaphilippe could keep hold of the yellow jersey were given another kicking after a sensational performance in the time trial in Pau.Embed from Getty Images
The Frenchman, last out onto the course as race leader, was first at all the intermediate checkpoints and, despite being expected to lose some time to his GC rivals, actually increased his lead over defending champion Geraint Thomas by 14 seconds.
The early stages so plenty of riders put in performances best described as ‘conservative’, clearly saving themselves before the Pyrenees.
Deceuninck Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen set the first real time of reference at the finish in 35 minutes 32 seconds.Embed from Getty Images
Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) both started well but it was Thomas De Gendt of Lotto Soudal who posted a better time than Asgreen.
De Gendt then spent a chunk of time in the hot seat before Thomas and Alaphilippe posted better times in quick succession.Embed from Getty Images
There were a number of crashes and both Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) and Bora’s Maximilian Schachmann saw their Tour come to an end on the same corner.
Stage Fourteen – Tarbes to Col du Tourmalet – 117.5km
A first excursion into the high mountains brought a chance of redemption for Groupama FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot.
The Frenchman not only took the stage victory atop the Col du Tourmalet but also made up the time lost in the crosswinds before the last rest day.Embed from Getty Images
A break of 17 – including former Tour winner Vicenzo Nibali and Sagan – went clear after an elongated neutral start due to protesters and it got a gap of three minutes going into the first climb fo the day.
Nibali showed some interest in the KOM points but it was Wellens who was first over the top of the Col du Soulor.
There was some damage done on the climb to the GC hopes of Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale), Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) who were among the riders unexpectedly dropped as Ineos turned the screw on the front.Embed from Getty Images
As more and more of the break was absorbed and then spat out of the back of the main bunch, Movistar and Jumbo Visma did plenty of work controlling counter-attacks before the group containing most of the yellow jersey hopefuls and their lieutenants moved up the Tourmalet.
Pinot went with 250m to go and he was able to shake of Buchmann and Bernal before powering over the line to give Groupama their first win of the 2019 Tour.
While the day belonged to Pinot, Alaphilippe, second across the line six seconds behind his compatriot, extended his lead over Steven Kruijswijk and Thomas.Embed from Getty Images
The pair were warmly congratulated at the finish by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Stage Fifteen – Limoux > Foix Prat d’Albis – 185km
The final stage before the second rest day brought more joy for Simon Yates and Thibaut Pinot.
The former claimed his second stage victory of the week with a solo break to the line while the latter moved even closer to Alaphilippe and the chasing pack with another strong attack to finish 33 seconds behind with Mikel Landa for company.Embed from Getty Images
In a Tour that has offered so much, this was another thrilling stage with drama at every turn.
Alaphilippe lost time on Thomas but remains in yellow and with the Alps to come later this week, it will be fascinating to see how the rest of the Tour plays out.Embed from Getty Images
In other subplots, Bernal gained time on teammate Thomas, Steven Kruijswijk cemented his podium ambitions with another strong ride and riders two to six (Thomas to Buchmann) are now separated by just 40 seconds or so.
As for the stage, there were plenty of fireworks before Yates left his final breakaway companion Simon Geschke towards the bottom of the final climb to Prat d’Albis.Embed from Getty Images
Pinot and Landa gave chase admirably but were unable to catch Yates in time for the line.
The race is far from over. We’ve got plenty more Tour de France coverage between now and Paris so keep checking us out on social media – @AllezAllezCC on Twitter!