“Today I was the breakaway”: that’s how Simon Geschke described his Tour de France stage winning ride to Pra Loup that also saved Giant-Alpecin’s 2015 Tour de France.
Giant have won four stages in the last two Tours courtesy of Marcel Kittel, but in the absence of the German sprinter this time around, it was his bearded compatriot who gave them a much sought-after victory.
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“The atmosphere has always been good in the team but everyone expected a stage win with John Degenkolb in a sprint or on the cobbled stage,” added Geschke. “In the last two years we’ve been spoilt with Marcel, who won the first stage of the race two years running, which meant the pressure was off. This year has been harder.”
It was the 29-year-old’s bold move that won him the day: he attacked after the stage’s intermediate sprint with just under 50 kilometres to go, and held an advantage of the ascents of the Col d’Allos and finishing climb.
“Maybe I did not have even half a chance of winning today,” he said. “I’ve had some good results in Grand Tour stages already, most of them out of breaks, but I didn’t want to wait again to get dropped or finish 10th.
“I looked around and saw good climbers in the break: [Sky’s Richie] Porte, [FDJ’s Thibaut] Pinot, and I knew that if I stayed with them I’d get dropped on the long climb [Col d’Allos]. So I took the only chance I had, and if it didn’t work, I’d have dropped back and tried and support Warren Barguil on the climbs.
“It was an all-in situation – I still can’t believe it.”
Despite getting within five days of Paris before winning a stage, Giant DS Marc Reef said Geschke’s performance was not a race-saving one.
“We haven’t felt any pressure as a team, that’s not how we work,” said Reef. “But every stage victory in the Tour de France is great, you cannot compare them.”
Giant’s win today means that 10 teams have won stages of this year’s race: the others being BMC, Lotto-Soudal, Katusha, Etixx-Quick Step, Ag2r-La Mondiale, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo, MTN-Qhubeka and Lampre-Merida.