Trek-Segafredo's leader gains time on many rivals ahead of two big mountain stages
Richie Porte has not had the smoothest journey coming into the stage 13 time trial at the Tour de France, the first significant test of the general classification, but he put the bygones behind him and gave a Porte performance of old, finishing in 5th place for the 27.2-kilometer race against the clock.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), using the added virtual power of yellow, was the fastest on the hilly course, finishing ahead of Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos). Both riders, the last two to arrive at the finish, knocked Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) out of a long stint in the hotseat.
The only other rival to finish ahead of Porte was Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and by less than half a second – it was close to a perfect ride for Porte, and coming at a much-needed time.
It was a good ride, I think. We have done a lot of work on my time trial bike setup so it’s nice to get a good result. We can start the fight back now; we’ve given enough time away so it’s time to start taking some time back.
Porte gained precious time against most of the GC rivals, but more than that, it was a big psychological boost ahead of the next two days, both pivotal mountain stages starting with the legendary Col du Tourmalet Saturday.
“It will be everyone’s wish to win tomorrow on the Tourmalet, we’ll see what happens,” said Porte. “The GC is a bit more set and closer now. I think after a hard time trial like today you never know how the legs are going to be tomorrow, but look, I think everyone in the team is motivated to have a crack.”
The yellow helmets return
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Trek-Segafredo in the Tour. The day Giulio Ciccone claimed the yellow jersey with his second-place finish, the team also rocketed to the top of the teams classification, but four stages later, it all turned on its head. The dreadful wind-swept stage 10 saw Porte lose valuable time in the GC, the team drop from the top spot, and Ciccone cede the white jersey as Best Young Rider.
After an uneventful sprint stage 11, the team rebounded with fight on stage 12, sending Fabio Felline and Jasper Stuyven into the day’s breakaway. Although the team missed out on a top-three finish, Felline’s 5th and Stuyven’s 10th would push the team back into first in the teams classification, earning them the yellow numbers for the stage 13 time trial, but the yellow helmets were not donned, the riders using aero helmets instead.
After the time trial, Trek-Segafredo not only continued in the top spot in the teams GC, they increased the gap with Porte, Bauke Mollema, and Fabio Felline all giving strong rides against the clock.
The yellow numbers will be reunited with yellow helmets for stage 14, signifying the top team in the Tour, giving Trek-Segafredo a little more motivation for the mountains.