Bora-Hansgrohe are giving the peloton no days off at the 2020 Tour de France, driving the pace hard to cause as much discomfort to Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) as the German team try and help Peter Sagan reclaim the green jersey.
The fight for the points classification has become an intriguing subplot at the French Grand Tour, usually easily wrapped up by Sagan.
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Bennett has a 40-point lead over the seven-times classification winner and is looking good to break the Slovakian’s spell, provided he can get to Paris.
“Every day we’re racing huh,” race leader Primož Roglič said after the finish of stage 14, the yellow jersey having hoped for a day off after the tough Puy Mary summit finish and before the Grand Colombier on stage 15. “I thought after yesterday we’d have an easier day but it was really hard racing again.”
Stage winner Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) says Bora’s tactics are having a big impact on the race, and are helping Sunweb try for stage honours, taking the really fast sprinters out of contention and opening opportunities to Sunweb’s powerful riders.
“It had a big impact on the race, very big in my opinion, because I think they almost split the peloton [today],” Kragh Andersen said after his win.
“They made the race harder than if it had been all together and full gas over the last two climbs. For us, it was the perfect situation because we didn’t have sprinters, the fastest guys in the bunch sprint, it was a harder race because of Bora and then we could be aggressive in the final.”
“It was a really hard day, Bora really put us under pressure, but we tried our best to keep Sam close over the top of the long climb, and then we were trying to close it afterwards,” Kasper Asgreen added, having been one of a few Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders tasked with pacing the team’s sprinter through the stage as Bora-Hansgrohe continued to drive a hard pace to not let the Irishman back in the peloton.
“As long as Sam was behind we expected them to keep on the pressure that’s for sure. He didn’t drop too early, only 2km from the top, he actually rode really well but they were just faster.”
The Belgian team say they are confident Bennett will make it to Paris, but Sagan clawed back some points today at both the intermediate sprint and coming fourth over the finish line, the gap now down to 43 points.
Bennett will look to take advantage of the intermediate sprints that are situated before the big climbs over the coming days, and is likely to outsprint Sagan on the Champs-Élysées should he get there.
With the Grand Colombier coming tomorrow on stage 15, followed by the Col de la Loze on stage 17, the mountains may prove the biggest obstacle to Bennett’s green dreams, and not the rider who has won the jersey seven times.