Thibaut Pinot sets off.
It’s been a miserable Tour for the French favourite, who came in aiming to win it but dropped out of GC contention very early on.
He came so close last year – sitting fifth overall after stage 18, just 20 seconds behind eventual winner Egan Bernal. But a muscular injury caused by hitting his leg against his handlebar forced him out of the race in tears the following day.
Why hasn’t he abandoned this Tour by now? Well this stage goes close to where he lives and he couldn’t bring himself to be sat there while the Tour went past without him.
How can you not love Thibaut Pinot?
1. Remi Cavagna (Fra/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 57mins 54secs
2. David de la Cruz (Spa/UAE Team Emirates) +41secs
3. Alessandro de Marchi (Ita/CCC Team) +2mins 07secs
4. Kasper Asgreen (Den/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +2mins 31secs
5. Nils Politt (Ger/Israel Start-up Nation) +3mins 05secs
6. Wout Poels (Ned/Bahrain McLaren) +3mins 15secs
7. Felix Grossschartner (Aut/Bora-Hansgrohe) +3mins 32secs
8. Connor Swift (GB/Arkea-Samsic) +3mins 53secs
9. Maxime Chevalier (Fra/B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) +4mins 03secs
10. Ben Hermans (Bel/Israel Start-up Nation) +4mins 15secs
France’s Julian Alaphilippe rolls down the start ramp to rapturous applause.
Remember his time trial win in Pau last year? It was astonishing.
And it was the moment where everyone started to think, ‘Hang on, he might just go all the way here.’
He couldn’t hold on, of course. But that TT win really ignited a special race.
What can he do today?
Admirable words from Caleb Ewan and he’s backed it up – Lotto Soudal have not had a single fine for drafting or riders holding on to their team car for too long.
Ewan has often been the first rider dropped on the big mountain stages but has made it through each time.
He’ll be inside the time cut today too and has the chance for a second straight win on the Champs-Elysees tomorrow.
More from Caleb Ewan on ITV4:“I had to go super hard in the first bit because I was so worried about making the time cut.
“I feel I’ve been getting as the Tour has gone on but I can’t really remember how tired I was at this point last year.
“I knew I would be dropped at many points in this year’s Tour but I told my team I would never draft behind a car. If I’m not good enough to make Paris then I’m not good enough.”
Aussie sprinter Caleb Ewan has just been speaking to ITV4…
When asked if he would like more time trials that end in a 5.9km climb:“No.”
The question was asked in jest, of course.
Bob Jungels, who has been harder to spot this Tour having not won the Luxembourg road race title for once, is on the course.
He is Luxembourg TT champion though. Good to have a familiar sight back.
Ineos’ Luke Rowe has just been explaining the bike change tactics to ITV4.
The idea is to wait for the right moment when the road kicks up and you’re going your slowest on your TT bike before switching.
If you swap on a flat section, you lose more time decelerating to a standstill.
Watch out for Ineos to pull off a well-timed bike change for Richard Carapaz later.
Huge ride by David de la Cruz!
The Spainard comes in 41 seconds down on Remi Cavagna to move into second overall.
Interestingly he switched to his road bike, unlike Cavagna, and started the final climb 54 seconds down on the Frenchman’s time.
So the UAE Team Emirates rider gained 13 seconds on the climb.
Thomas de Gendt is not going for this today. He’s over a minute down on Remi Cavagna as the first time check.
1. Remi Cavagna (Fra/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) – 57mins 54secs
2. Alessandro de Marchi (Ita/CCC Team) +2mins 07secs
3. Kasper Asgreen (Den/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +2mins 31secs
4. Nils Politt (Ger/Israel Start-up Nation) +3mins 05secs
5. Wout Poels (Ned/Bahrain McLaren) +3mins 15secs
6. Connor Swift (GB/Arkea-Samsic) +3mins 53secs
7. Maxime Chevalier (Fra/B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) +4mins 03secs
8. Chris Juul Jensen (Den/Mitchelton-Scott) +4mins 17secs
9. Christophe Laporte (Fra/Cofidis) Same time
10. Krists Neilands (Lat/Israel Start-up Nation) +4min 19secs
Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi, winner of one stage and animator of plenty more, sets off.
Thomas de Gendt sets off from Lure.
The Belgian is a very good time trialist and solid climber. If he’s on good form today, he could trouble the top five on the stage.
Soren Kragh Andersen, who has won two stages in superb style this year, is out on the course.
There are 10 points on offer for the fastest rider up La Planche des Belles Filles followed by 8-6-4-2-1 for the next five quickest.
Then there is only one king of the mountains point left on tomorrow’s stage.
Primoz Roglic could overhaul both Pogacar and Carapaz to take the polka dots along with the yellow jersey.
If two riders are tied after today, that battle for the sole KOM point tomorrow could be tasty.
1. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) – 74 points
2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE Team Emirates) – 72
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) – 67
4. Marc Hirschi (Swi/Team Sunweb) – 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (Col/Astana) – 51
In fact, Richard Carapaz’s Ineos team-mate Pavel Sivakov confirmed earlier that’s exactly what the Ecuadorian will do today…
He said: “The two Slovenians [Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar who threaten the King of the Mountains leading position] are very good time trialists. Even doing the first part flat out, they’re able to do a very good time up the hill while Richard will save energy for the hill.
“We hope for the strategy to work out. Richard will of course change bike for the climb. We’re confident but not overconfident.”
Today isn’t solely about the yellow jersey contest.
There are also king of the mountains points on offer for the six fastest riders up La Planche des Belles Filles, using their time from the start of the climb to the summit.
Richard Carapaz currently leads Tadej Pogacar by two points in the polka dot jersey and doesn’t have the GC to worry about.
So Carapaz could well ease through the first part, change to his road bike and blast it up the climb.
After stage 19 yesterday, Tadej Pogacar refused to answer when asked whether he would change bikes today, saying it was a secret.
Unfortunately for him, UAE Team Emirates sporting director Allan Peiper gave the game away earlier today, telling reporters they are planning a bike change.
Unless that’s a bluff?
Current leader Remi Cavagna:“I believe the favourites will beat me by 45 second to one minute. I dealt well with my efforts all along the course but I’m 77kg. It’s heavy.
“At the end, I wasn’t on my favourite terrain. I remained quite composed but compared to Primoz Roglic, I’ll lose a lot up the hill.
“I didn’t change bike because I’m used to riding on my TT bike. Changing bike, I would have lost 30 to 40 seconds.”