It has been a pretty good July so far for Magnus Cort. The Dane started the Tour de France in his home nation, and then delighted the crowds by being in the breakaway on both road stages in Denmark, claiming the king of the mountains jersey for the first week of the race in the process.
On Tuesday, it got even better for the EF Education-EasyPost, who took his second stage win in Megève, pipping Nick Schultz [BikeExchange-Jayco] to the line on stage 10.
The 29-year-old has made a name for himself at Grand Tours in recent years, taking six wins at the Vuelta a España in just three editions. This kind of finish was perfect for him, a punchy sprint in a small bunch. He must have been licking his lips.
However, it looked like the win might already have disappeared up the road when first Luis León Sánchez (Bahrain Victorious) attacked and gapped the remaining members of the break. Then, when he was caught, Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Schultz, and Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) were part of a fresh move.
However, Cort remained calm, waited for them to come back, and then pounced. It took a photo finish for the winner to be decided, but the Dane always looked faster than Schultz.
"I kept riding and pacing myself and somehow I ended up being back in the group and we were all together in the finish straight," he said. "It's unbelievable and the finish suited me pretty well.
"I think I realised [he had won] maybe a minute after the finish. First I had some journalists around me and then in my earpiece as well I had our sports director. It was a bit of a wait but I had enough to do with just breathing."
The Magnus Cort show has helped carry EF at this Tour, although they have had Neilson Powless well placed throughout.
"I couldn't have dreamed of a better Tour so far for me than this," Cort explained. "It was huge for me already with the polka dot jersey in Denmark and then taking a stage win here – obviously it was a dream for me to take a stage win as well, but from hoping and dreaming to doing it's a long way.
"I'm immensely happy and I have to thank [Alberto] Bettiol a lot because without him on the front obviously I wouldn't have benefitted from that sitting in the wheels. For sure I wouldn't have made it to the finish with the first guys. It was a strong ride from him and I'm super happy."
What had made the Dane's exploits all the more impressive at this Tour is that he has just come from the Giro d'Italia, where he came close to winning a stage too. Other riders that have doubled up, including Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) have looked a shadow of their normal selves.
"Obviously my body reacts well to a lot of fatigue and coming into these big stage races probably I lose a bit less than many other riders," Cort said. "If I keep the same speeds up you're amongst the best."
With his days in the polka dots now over, and a stage win in his pocket, there is not much more for the Dane to do in this Tour de France, but time will tell if he can keep animating the race.
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