Thomas De Gendt animated the thirteenth Tour stage, between Muret and Rodez. Together with Cyril Gautier and Wilco Kelderman he entered the final kilometre, but the peloton caught them after all. Thomas De Gendt got the award of most combative rider, his fellow countryman Greg Van Avermaet won the stage.
At about twenty to one the thirteenth stage started. Thomas De Gendt decided to take his chance and got in a breakaway. He was accompanied by Cyril Gautier, Alexandre Geniez and Wilco Kelderman. Nathan Haas and Pierre-Luc Périchon bridged the gap a bit later and so there was a front group of six. The gap stabilized around four minutes. In the second half of the stage lay three official climbs, one of the third and two of the fourth category. Thomas was first at the top of the third category climb. After these climbs it wasn’t flat though. Haas was the first to attack, just after the mark of the last 25 kilometres. The others came back and with less than fifteen kilometres to go Kelderman attacked. He was only joined by De Gendt and Gautier. The three riders entered the final kilometre together and that was uphill. De Gendt and co didn’t make it. Greg Van Avermaet was the first to cross the finish line, he beat Peter Sagan.
Thomas De Gendt: “It was the plan to have a rider of our team in the breakaway. The beginning of the stage took place on narrow roads and the road went up and down all the time, it wasn’t easy to get away. I could escape the peloton and with the six of us we worked well together. At first it was only Giant – Alpecin that pulled in the peloton. We had agreed not to go full until the intermediate sprint, so they would think they had the situation under control. Then we would raise the tempo.”
“I believed in it till the last twenty kilometres. It cost some energy to respond to the attack of Kelderman. I had hoped the three of us would battle for the stage win, but just like in Paris-Nice this year it was over with only a few hundred metres to go, that’s a pity. It’s nice to get the award of most combative rider. When I was in the break during the cobblestone stage I already hoped to get it, today it certainly had to be for one of the escapees. I would have loved to win the stage of course, but it’s fantastic for Greg after all his attempts; it’s well-deserved. Maybe I attack later in the Tour again. I came to the Tour with a very good condition, without my rib injury I could have already shown myself more, but I’m glad with today’s performance.”
André Greipel won the intermediate sprint in the peloton and gained nine points. The German virtually wore green again, but because of his second place at the end Peter Sagan took the jersey back. He now has a lead of 24 points on Greipel.