PUY MARY (France) • Primoz Roglic tightened his grip on the Tour de France, after dropping defending champion Egan Bernal in the final ascent of a gruelling 13th stage in the Massif Central yesterday.
Colombian Dani Martinez took his career’s first Tour stage victory. He prevailed from the breakaway at the end of a punishing 191.5km trek from Chatel-Guyon before the big guns battled it out in the finale of the short, yet brutal climb up the Puy de Mary, where the average gradient rose above 11 per cent.
Ineos-Grenadiers Colombian leader Bernal, who fares better on longer ascents, could not sustain the pace when Tadej Pogacar accelerated, with fellow Slovenian Roglic the only rider able to follow.
The duo crossed the line 38 seconds ahead of Bernal, who slipped to third in the general classification, 59 seconds off the pace.
Roglic: “Of course it was a really nice day, so I’m super happy with what I did today. Every extra second is good.
“Honestly, I expected Tadej to be good before the start of the Tour. I knew he is super strong.
“We did nationals together and from last year we already saw he can do really big things in the Vuelta, so it was no big surprise. I’m really happy at the end we were two Slovenians at the top.”
The 21-year-old Pogacar, the most aggressive of the main contenders and the best man in the Pyrenees last weekend, is second, 44 seconds behind Roglic.
Yesterday’s stage signalled the end of French hopes as Romain Bardet, who started the day in fourth place overall, 30 seconds off the pace, ended up 2min 30sec behind Roglic after the 2016 runner-up took a heavy tumble. Guillaume Martin, third overall at the start, cracked in the penultimate climb to cross the line 2:46 after Roglic.
Bardet and Martin are now just outside the top 10.
Martinez, who featured among the dark horses before the start in Nice after winning the Criterium du Dauphine but lost any hope in the first week, outsprinted Lennard Kamna for the stage win.
Martinez said: “When the Tour started my sensations were still good, but I fell and lost a bit of time. Mentally that was hard.
“I let some more time go and then I tried to seek out stages that suited me. I managed to win today.”