153.5km to go: Visible frustration from the French pair at Jorgenson not pulling his weight up front, and Burgaudeau and Gougeard huffily kick away. The breakaway is now down to two.
156km to go: The trio are looking good up front and this looks like a decisive break. They’re peeking back and there’s nothing to see but road there. The gap remains around the high-50sec mark.
Corrections and clarifications: Stefan Bissegger took the aforementioned KoM point – not his EF Education-EasyPost teammate Neilson Powless.
160km to go: Burgaudeau isn’t having it all to himself up front. He’s been reeled in by Jorgensen (Movistar) and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R Citroën), and they’re closing in on a 1min gap to the chase group. Despite the peloton being 5:13 back, they’re hardly hanging around, with Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) wheezing and mentally waving a forlorn “come back, come back …”
162.5km to go: Straight after the climb, Mathieu Burgaudeau (TotalEnergies) sets off for the first solo break of the day. Nils Politt (Bora–Hansgrohe) has been in the pits to address a case of Wonky Wheel.
164km to go: The peloton is now 3:57 off the front. Vlasov went into the stage 11th and is the highest GC contender up there. Powless, meanwhile, snaffles up a King of the Mountains on côte de Saint-Hilaire.
168km to go: Wout van Aert is among the breakaway, which is a strange old move from the Jumbo-Visma man given how depleted his team now is. Eurosport seem to think there’s another JV rider up there too, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The breakaway consists of (deep breath) Vlasov, Powless, Madouas, Caruso, Teuns, McNulty, Jorgensen, Houle, Velasco, Gallopin, Martinez, Storer, Owsian, Woods, Geschke, Izagirre Insausti, Bouet, Grossschartner, Gilbert, Bissegger, Gougeard, Barthe, Le Gac, Burgaudeau, Honoré, Eekhoff and Wellens.
170km to go: For example, in the last km they’ve grown that gap to 2:12.
171km to go: Vingegaard, Pogacar, Thomas and Bardet are all safely tucked among the peloton. The gap to the breakaway is already at 1:47, and that gap is going up with every character I rattle off.
173km to go: 27 are now in a breakaway, made up of a healthy cross-section of teams. The peloton is already 49 seconds behind. Michael Matthews sees the threat and is attempting to bridge the gap.
176.2km to go: First flinches came to nought, but Neilson Powless picks things up, leading a group of 12. Geschke is among them.
178.5km to go: Picnic baskets are all buckled and kickstands stowed as the peloton pass the start point. The mercury, incidentally, is at 31C in Carcassonne.
1 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) 59h 58min 28sec
2 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +2min 22sec
3 Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) +2:43
4 Romain Bardet (DSM) +3:01
5 Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) +4:06
6 Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) +4:15
7 Louis Meintjes (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux) +4:24
8 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +4:24
9 Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) +8:49
10 Enric Mas (Movistar) +9:58
Points: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
King of the mountains: Simon Geschke (Cofidis)
The first stage in the Pyrenees with two first category mountains; hard enough for the early break to target the stage, but not hard enough to induce the overall contenders to do more than keep a watching brief, writes William Fotheringham. With 27km downhill to the line, the finish is for a good climber who can descend well: perhaps Romain Bardet, or the Dane Jakob Fuglsang, or that old lag Bauke Mollema.
To the Pyrenees! The peloton gears up after the second and last rest day for a light, leisurely jaunt up two category 1 climbs – Port de Lers and Mur de Péguère. Breakaway chances abound in the first half of the stage before the gradients ramp up … and then the Tour gods give plenty of altitude back for a downhill charge to the line.
Last time the race took in the slender Péguère pathway, in 2017, Warren Barguil delighted home fans with victory on Bastille Day. There’ll be no repeat this year – the ProTeam Arkéa–Samsic rider left the race on Friday after testing positive for Covid-19. Can Romain Bardet, fourth in the GC standings, get the Tricolores waving at the finish this time around?
It’s a potentially good day to be a confident climber who can also barrel down at a decent lick for a thundering finish. Plenty fit the bill. Jonas Vingegaard remains in yellow, but is smarting from a tumble last time out and has lost Jumbo-Visma comrades Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk – they would have been extremely useful today.
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar is 2min 22sec off the lead. Potential intrigue comes in the form of third-placed Geraint Thomas, 2:43 behind Vingegaard but backed by an Ineos team who will roll out of Carcassonne with comfortably the most strength in depth of the top three contenders.
Six stages left. Who wants it, eh?