Sponsored by TBS Labour Ltd

Oh cycling. Every day you find a new way to surprise me. Just when I thought this Tour de France couldn't make my poor, battered heart feel any more things, Matej Mohorič happened.

Not until after a one-day classic that was up there with many of the Spring's finest, thrown into what's already been a crazy Tour, just for good measure. The rolling terrain and ever-changing breakaway composition combined with the urgency of many teams having their final roll of the dice, stage win-wise, gave off major one-day classics vibes, as did the personnel involved. And all this, without a cobble in sight.

Read on to find out how it unfolded, and why the result was not the only emotional part about the day.

We are working hard to keep you all entertained and informed, and we really hope you enjoy what you read. If you'd like to support the site at any point you can buy us a coffee, head to the writebikerepeat.com shop to have a browse and pick up an item or two, or subscribe as a free or paying member of the writebikerepeat crew. We'd love to have you on board. 




def: prepare your musettes!

Cuisine du Jour

Stage 20 - Belfort - Le Markstein Fellering (133km, Mountain)

One last twist in the tale of the incredible Tour, a mountain stage that packs a punch with no less than six categorised climbs through the Vosges mountains - guess who's local stomping ground that is? I'll give you a clue: he's fond of goats and he's everybody's favourite retiring Groupama-FDJ rider, yes, it's THIBAUT PINOT DAY.

Of course he won't have it all his own way - while today was for the classics style riders, tomorrow is the final opportunity for the climbers to have a crack, so expect full-on chaos from the off as per usual, except turbo-charged.

What local delicacies match with tomorrow's stage, which will see the riders getting hot under the collar (and probably everywhere else too)? Ice-cream would be good, and luckily Glace plombières hails from the region.

Supposedly, the ice-cream was invented by accident, as a cover-up for a chef's failure to concoct perfect custard for a dinner party held for none other than Napoloen himself. The resulting improvisation took on a life of its own, and might either be named for the lead molds that were used in the preparation of ice cream, in the past ('plomb' meaning lead in French), or because the dinner was held in a French commune called Plombières-les-Bains, in Vosges.

Either way, the defining characteristic of the dessert is the candied fruit, soaked in kirsch cherry liqueur, and spread throughout the ice-cream.

So it's sweet, punchy and fruity, and a bit mysterious. Tomorrow's stage remains a mystery for now, but it's certainly going to require some serious punch. There are many worthy riders, but of course, a Thibaut Pinot victory on his final opportunity at the Tour de France, in his home region, would be particularly sweet. Everyone out for ice-cream afterwards?


def: after the effort, the comfort

Taking a sideways look back at the day's action, to reflect, reconcile and remember.

Speedy Stage Takeaway

How to do justice to today's stage, and leave you time to enjoy your weekends?

It was a classic, in every sense of the word. Instead of trying to describe what happened blow by blow, I'll just paste my notes, hastily typed into my phone while I attended to 'life stuff' which will hopefully give you everything you need to know:

Pedersen and Lutsenko
Ups and downs, winds and splits
Kung and Alaphillippe

A good group got away.
Politt mechanical
Intermediate sprint - another group came across
Campanaerts and Clarke off the front
Robbie: 'Victor the Inflictor'. Clarke dropped - cramp?
Asgreen Mohorič O'Connor

Victor dropped!
Pedersen attacks on the climb! Bettiol goes with him. Haig marking - about 13 chasing
Trentin + Bettiol
MVDP catches, then Zimmermann
And Philipsen, Pidcock, Laporte, Pedersen again - groups all over the road, splits like a classic.
Philipsen berating Bettiol and Pedersen - weird.
The trio stay away. PHOTO FINISH!

OK I'll concede - it's perhaps not the summary that the stage deserves. Such was the craziness of the day, with too many changes to stay abreast of. So instead I'll exclaim over individuals.

Mads Pedersen! How much work did he do, all day? He attacked on climbs, he got in the break again and again. You can't keep a good Dane down.

Victor Campanaerts! How on earth did he have the energy to work that hard, yet again. From the off. He ran out of steam under pressure from an impressive group of very fine riders. He's the breakaway king of this Tour de France.

Nils Politt! What could have been, if he hadn't snapped his chain. This stage was made for him and I genuinely think he'd have been there to the end, given the form he's shown recently.

Kasper Asgreen! AGAIN! How much pent-up energy and desire and sheer drive he must have had in reserve after a tough time the past year, to have the will and determination and strength to go all the way to the line on a second consecutive day, and almost do it. Either that, or he just really wanted to hang out with Victor some more.

Ben O'Connor! Who ended up in the break by accident and rode like a classics specialist - this guy is a climber, lest we forget. He tried to go for the win and it was such a brave and valiant effort, but he was up against two power monsters - his podium spot was so well earned though.

And Matej Mohorič. His expert bike throw at the line was so unbelievably well timed, it almost defied logic. His genuine love and respect for his competitor was beautiful to witness:

After that, it would have been easy to turn off the television, smile and nod in recognition of a race well won, and spare a moment's thought for how his team must be feeling, at a race where they have gone into battle after losing their friend and teammate, and have ridden so wonderfully in his honour. A moment to remember Gino.

Yet given the raw emotion on display, it was of course worth hanging around to hear Mohorič's post-race interview. I did not expect to come away from it feeling as though the whole sport of cycling had been reframed for me, in the most humbling and honest and eloquent way.

He expressed doubt over his place in the peloton - whether he deserved to be there - impostor syndrome, in the most elite and truly deserving of athletes. Acknowledging how he understood that as hard as he found it to hold the wheel, the guys around him were facing their own struggles too. Extending an apology almost, to Kasper Asgreen, for beating him, as he regretfully described the necessity of someone having to lose in such a scenario, echoing the sentiments of all of us after yesterday's triumphant breakaway success.

I've had to transcribe interviews for work before, but this was the first time I've ever spontaneously started transcribing someone's words just because they felt important. Every word out of his mouth was from the heart, and they spoke directly to the nature of cycling, and sport in general, to the insecurities that plague even experts in their field, to appreciation for everyone who goes unnoticed, to recognition of his own flaws and failings, even in a moment of victory. It's humble, and honest, and eloquent despite the raw emotion.

Luckily, I don't have to transcribe, as video footage exists - if you do one thing today, I urge you to listen to this interview in full.

Stage 19 in 19 WORDS

Campanaerts relentless, the breakaway ebbed and flowed with the undulating terrain. A determined trio overcame, Mohorič threw, for Gino,


by Anna McEwen

I need a drink!

with mixologist Stine Momo Agerbæk

The main cast for stage 18+19 could just as well have been the cast for a full spring of Flemish classics and today’s stage felt like one racing-wise too and it’s been a long race by now, so…

Have a beer! A cold one.
Make it a Laško or something equally local for today’s Slovenian stage winner or go for a Danish or an Australian one to complete the podium…

Or get yourself something Belgian to complete the classics feeling of the day.
And make sure they’re cold. Today was a scorcher both weather-wise and in the racing department!

Mmm, beer. Cheers Matej! (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Vive la Lanterne Rouge


If I didn't know any better, I'd suggest that Alpecin-Deceuninck are trying to outdo Lotto-DSTNY's record as the most featured team in the Vive Lounge - that's two days in a row now that a member of the Belgian team has rolled over the line last.

Rickaert finished in 151st place today, and while we wait to hear his opinion of this honour, let's learn a bit more about him with FOUR FACTS.

  1. He's a track cyclist too - he has completed the Ghent 6 Days in the past with current teammate Silvain Dillier.
  2. He has just one pro win on his palmares - the 2020 edition of Dwars door het Hageland.
  3. He has a beautiful one-year-old daughter named Billie Lou.
  4. He had surgery on a narrowed femoral artery last year. The alternative to surgery was to quit cycling, so he has been grateful for his return to racing.


noun: the refuelling

Features to enhance your Tour experience, and refresh your mind after a long day's cycling viewing.

Stat du Jour

by Sam Mould

So that is stage 19 in the books and that was the last ‘Hilly’ stage of this year’s Tour. For a hilly stage, the riders faced 1,966m of total climbing.

Looking at today’s route, among the towns and villages visited, was saw the race go through La Tour-du-Meix (8km), Sarrogna (42.5km), Fontenu (80.7km), Saffloz (83.3km) and Montrond (112.7km).  Based on the average population height in France it would take all the residents of these 5 towns and villages to exceed that 1,966m

The highest categorised climb of today's stage was Côte du Bois de Lionge, which stands 686m, or 370.81 Matej Mohoričs high.


Band of Brothers

There are 27 nations represented at this year's Tour, and coincidentally, 21 of them have two or more riders. Each day, we'll take a look at a different nation, evaluate their chances of success and throw in a random fact or two, and add to our 'National Standings' chart to see if numerical advantage translates to more stage wins. Dedicated to Justdiggit, Gino's charity of choice, who have set up a specific project in Gino's memory - please consider donating to them, during the Tour.

This segment is dedicated to the memory of the late Gino Mäder


Another nation who haven't yet made it onto our leaderboard, Portugal's trio of countrymen at this year's Tour became a duo following the departure of Movistar's Ruben Guerreiro in a crash on stage 14. Two remain: one, Guerreiro's teammate, Nelson Oliveira. The other, former World Champion Rui Costa. The 36-year-old Intermarche-Circus-Wanty rider has had a good season so far, and has been visible in the race so far, trying his luck in a breakaway or two, though his highest finishing position was 20th on the time trial stage.

Although time has almost run out for Portugal to make their mark on the national standings table, Costa isn't a bad shout for tomorrow's mountainous stage - and it's not over 'till it's over.

As for the table, as it stands, Mohoric added another point to Slovenia's overall total, and it's tight at the top, with three nations vying for supremacy, much as it ever was in the past few years of cycling...

Graphic design: Sam Mould

Pardon my French

avec Mathieu Fraisse

3 stages left on this Tour de France (already 😭) and the organizers didn't go easy on the riders today. Only two small categorised climbs on the stage but the road won't stop looking like a roller-coaster. Up, down, up, down 🥵

Looking like a spring classic, this stage will be the last chance for the baroudeurs of the peloton to get a win and they probably used today's French expression to reach their goal.

Faire la lessive | fɛʁ la lesiv

Literally, do the laundry.

Constantly attacking or pacing hard to figuratively wring the peloton or the group you're part of.

E.g. : Matej Mohorič a fait la lessive dans la dernière ascension du jour pour s'extirper de l'échappée.

Matej Mohorič 'did the laundry' in the last ascent of the day to get away from the breakaway.

The attacker is in pretty good shape and activates the spin-dry mode. He tries to wear down the members of his group in order to get away from them and get the win 🌪️

You can picture a wet towel being wringed to extract all of the water from it. That's how it feels to 'faire la lessive' in the peloton💧 Are you the towel or are you wringing it?

During today's stage, Mohorič and Asgreen did the best cleaning job and fought for the win. Impeccable work boys, but only one could prevail!

Decided by a tyre length in a great mano-a-mano battle, it's another win for team Bahrain Victorious! Well done and congrats, Laundro-Mat' Mohorič ✨

YéYé, c'est Le Tour de France 2023

with DJ Momo

The last two stages have one defining tagline: BREAKAWAY ACTION!

65: Yesterday Asgreen said he wanted to go in the break, and boy did he do it! Twice!

66: Stage 18 was a beautiful miracle of a lost-cause morning breakaway making it to the line… Chapeau to all three-then-four of the brave breakaway riders, but especially to Victor C for the most heroic sacrifice on the final km.

67: Another stage, another breakaway… and yet another breakaway… and another one… Today it was a treasure getting to watch the breakaway formation process of the stage!

68 +69 + 70: The final 75km of the race became one long chase between separate breakaway groups, and it was wonderful to watch and a complete change of pace and vibe from the heavy intensity of the mountain battles we’ve just gone through. And it was wonderful if you ask me.

The final trio making it up along the 9 km long straight tree-lined finale with the green jersey group in hot pursuit was as beautiful and as engaging as any Flemish spring race.

Uno-X Watch

Unlucky for the boys today - they managed to squeeze FOUR riders into the day's mega breakaway in the end, but none made the final selection - a great effort though, they drove the chase and are still up there and animating the race. There's another chance tomorrow; expecting to see Tobias Johannessen have one last try at improving upon third place. Let's go!


def: The bits and bobs, the shiny things, the small treasures that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Rider doing something they’re not supposed to be doing of the day

It's not the first rider we've featured with musical talents, but we've never seen so much energy delivered in the direction of a xylophone before - Neilson has clearly missed his calling.

Tweets of the Day

This is heart-warming.

In the end though, it all comes down to this:

Photo competition

Sponsored by Jen’s Cycling Art

Are you visiting a stage of Le Tour this year? If so, this is your chance not only to show your photography skills to the world, but also to win a prize courtesy of Jen's Cycling Art. Just drop me a message and send across your best shots, and those selected will feature in a gallery of the day's best photography. Spread the word and get those cameras honed and ready!

If you have enjoyed reading this post and would like to show your support for my free cycling content, consider buying me a coffee. And if you’d like to hear from me more regularly subscribe.

Share this post