(Issoire) Pello Bilbao won a first stage of the Tour de France in the sprint, gaining at the same time significant time in the general classification, still dominated by the Dane Jonas Vingegaard.
Bilbao raised its arms to the sky to celebrate the end of this 10th stage of the 2023 edition of the Grande Boucle, one of the most difficult so far. He completed the 167.2 km between Vulcania and Issoire just ahead of Georg Zimmermann and Ben O’Connor, in three hours, 52 minutes, 34 seconds (3:52:34), in oppressive heat.
The Bahrain-Victorious team cyclist immediately dedicated his victory to his ex-teammate and friend Gino Mäder, who died last month following a fatal crash in the Tour de Suisse.
“First I caught up with O’Connor and then without hesitation I let Zimmermann start his sprint, before hanging on to his wheel and picking up the pace in the final 200m without thinking,” Bilbao said. . I then crossed the finish line with all the energy I had left, and I remembered the reason behind this victory.
“She’s special, for Gino,” he added.
Bilbao had announced before the start of the Tour de France that he would imitate Mäder, paying one euro for each opponent he beat at each stage in order to replant trees in areas affected by deforestation.
He edged 168 runners on Tuesday.
Most of the yellow jersey contenders, including Vingegaard, finished some three minutes behind, taking Bilbao from 11th to fifth overall, 4:34 behind the Dane, but less than two minutes behind. from the podium.
Vingegaard maintained his lead of 17 seconds ahead of Tadej Pogacar. Jay Hindley is third at 2:40.
After his victory on Sunday, Canadian Michael Woods could only do better than 99th place, in a field 13:02 behind the winner. Hugo Houle finished 115th, at 20:18. Guillaume Boivin was 149th, 25:03 behind Bilbao.
Woods fell five spots overall to 27th place.
After a day of rest on Monday, the second week of activities at the Grande Boucle began with a very difficult stage comprising five category passes and hardly any flat portions. The heat proved to be even more oppressive due to the radiation coming from the bitumen.
The tone was set from the start, and many cyclists suffered. A 14-man breakaway eventually broke away from the main peloton.
Krists Neilands seemed to be one of the most powerful of the group, and he launched an attack on the climb of the last pass, crossing the Côte de la Chapelle-Marcousse with a 30-second lead. However, he was chased by Bilbao on the descent, and caught up with about 3 km to go.
“Everyone pushed to the limit; Neilands launched quite an attack, Bilbao agreed. He was arguably the strongest of the group, but lost a lot of energy fighting a very hot headwind.
“In the group at the back, we worked together, and with 3km to go, I knew I had the freshest legs in the group, which I started forward,” he said. he continued.
Neilands eventually finished the stage in fourth position.
O’Connor was the first to launch an attack, since he is not known for his sprinting skills. Bilbao fought back quickly, however, and Zimmermann followed in his wake. Bilbao then kicked off the final sprint by breaking away from Zimmermann’s wheel, en route to victory.
The 11th stage scheduled for Wednesday, which will be 180 km long, will include three category passes and will link Clermont-Ferrand to Moulins. It should end with a sprint to the finish line.
The Tour de France will end in Paris on July 23.
27. Michael Woods (CAN/IPT) 29:4882. Hugo Houle (CAN/IPT) 1 h 32:14126. Guillaume Boivin (CAN/IPT) 2 h 03:41