One can only imagine that UAE Team Emirates incorrigible leader Tadej Pogacar was like a kid at Christmas when he woke this morning to find that Santa (Christian Prudhomme) had put a massive great mountain (the Col du Galibier) in his UCI height approved cycling sock, and he got to play with all his toys on it (set his team of super domestiques to work).

You can almost picture him bouncing with anticipation knowing he would have the chance, this early on in the race, to test himself against his rivals, and to make his first mark in the ledger as he writes himself into the history books.

Speaking of books, it was a fairy tale start to the day for Richard Carapaz, the man who had taken the maillot jaune from Pogacar yesterday, and the smiles on the faces of the Ecuadorian and his team on the bus before the stage said it all.

It was a frantic start to the stage, and with an intermediate sprint just 18km into the profile there appeared to be some confusion between the goals of those attacking off the front – some with breakaway intentions, mixed up with attacks from sprinters and their domestiques attempting to steal a march on the fight for a massive 20 points to add to their green jersey totals. It was the toughest of uphill sprints and Mads Pedersen’s early solo break was followed with an all-out battalion from Lidl-Trek escorting him to the point from where he could sprint slowly uphill for the points, with yesterday’s victor Biniam Girmay coming through in second. Jasper Philipsen, last year's winner, left to fend for himself, and curtailing his effort before he'd really gotten started.

And we began again. The breakaway mark 2 comprised 17 men, a large group which contained KOM-by-proxy Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) and not actual KOM Jonas Abrahamsen – for once. There was plenty of talent in the break as they tackled the insanely long Sestriere climb, but they were never given much rope by a relentless UAE team who clearly had one goal in mind for the day – well, two, if you include the stage win - to regain the yellow jersey that by the way they were riding, you'd not really know they had lost in the first place.

And so we bid 'arrividerci' to Italy, and said 'bonjour' to France, as we crossed the border and arrived on French soil. While Madouas may have had designs on making the polka dot jersey his own, Stevie Williams (Israel-Premier Tech) had other ideas, out-sprinting the Frenchman and his compatriot (and former winner of the jersey) Warren Barguil (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) to take full points on both the category 2 climbs, upon which point the race looked ahead to the first gigantic hors categorie beast of this year's race, the Col du Galibier.

With the breakaway breaking apart eventually under the demands of the long climb, Oier Lazkano (Movistar) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) tried their luck but with UAE steaming up the climb at a frankly ridiculous pace they were doomed. UAE burned their matches one at a time until the pure climbers took over, and the speed at which elite cyclists were shelled out of the back of the GC group as they progressed toward the snow-capped summit of the climb was alarming.

Eventually, with the group slimmed down to petite eight, three of which were for UAE, Pogacar kicked, Vingegaard followed, and Evenepoel tried to go too, marking himself out as third best on the day, at least on the way up the climb.

But it was on the way down that Pogacar showed his mettle, as did the rest of the GC riders, as while the Slovenian's gap extended somewhat as he plummeted toward the finish line, it wasn't devastating by the time he crossed the line in Valloire.

It's hard to say if the race was won for Tadej Pogacar on the climb or on the descent, the summit of the Col the fulcrum on which his fate balanced, and while it’s definitely far from ‘race over’ it was certainly a statement of intent from the Slovenian and, more significantly, his team. He took his 12th stage victory at the Tour, and regained control of the yellow jersey, though to look at the way his team rode all day it didn’t seem like they really felt they’d lost it in the first place and indeed, Richard Carapaz slumped to 22nd on the overall standings after finishing five minutes down on the UAE man, but considering his plan was only ever to stage hunt, he will still have enjoyed his time in yellow.

Suggestions of trouble in camp UAE were stirred by Joao Almeida gesturing for Juan Ayuso to come and do some work on the front, and though the team tactics seem to extend beyond merely protecting their leader, but actively shredding the rest of the GC hopefuls and their teams, any chink in the armour will be speculated over. Ayuso is a future leader of the team at the Tour, of that there can be no doubt, but the ‘all for one’ mentality that the otherwise leaders within the super-team have adopted may not have filtered all the way through to their youngest rider.

As for the rest – Remco paced himself very well on the climb, made an impression on the rest after Pogi and Ving attacked, and slipped back to the group on the descent, proving little other than that he’s improving steadily and with his time trialling prowess, the others would be wise not to write him off. As for Roglič, he appeared laboured at times on the climb but made up any deficit on the descent, the reverse of Evenepoel, and he too lives to fight another day. The youngest GC contender (sit down, Juan) was fellow Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez of INEOS Grenadiers who put paid to any question over who is the leader in that team once and for all with a strong ride both up, and down, the Galibier. Sadly for all us, his teammate Tom Pidcock could not stay the course on the way up, so we were unable to witness him repeat the descent that saw him go viral in 2022, on the same day he won on Alpe d’Huez.

FEATURE: Vikings climbing Mountains at Le Tour

by Josef Murray

If you have ever read any of my work then you will know I’m a huge fan of Rouleurs, Puncheurs and Classics specialists. I’ve never been small enough to be classified as a GC rider, so I’m always drawn to the ‘bigger’ riders in the peloton. Someone who can’t climb for an hour straight but can attack and attack and attack again, the type of rider who will take lumps out of everyone in the race. 

This being said, I’ve found a new favourite rider, a rider who fits the profile I’ve just outlined. A 28-year old Norwegian, who’s currently holding the King of the Mountains Jersey and the Points Classification Jersey. Jonas Abrahamsen.

By now, we’ve all heard and read about Abrahamsen, how he gained almost 20 kilograms and started picking up victories. Something that sits in contrast to what pro-cyclists would usually want to do. The constant chase of marginal gains and watts per kilo is the norm in the World Tour peloton now, but with the backing of his team, and healthy weight gain, the Norwegian has reached new heights. 

To see Abrahamsen in the polka dots is so strange; a man with quads and shoulders like his should not be in the mountain’s classification jersey but he is and he’s battling to keep himself near the top of this classification, whilst also staying active in the Points Classification too.

Everyone knows that Uno-X are an aggressive stage hunting team. We see those red and yellow jerseys, the vicious looking DARE bikes with big Nordic riders on top and we know that they’re cooking up a plan to disrupt the status quo of the race. This was the case in the first stage of this year's Tour, multiple attempts to jump into a breakaway with any rider on the team, it was eventually the 28-year-old Abrahamsen who made it and in the spirit of his Nordic team he decided he would stamp his authority on the breakaway and challenge for the King of the Mountains points and the Intermediate sprints. 

I've really enjoyed following Uno-X’s journey over the past few years, I love the way they ride, the tactics they deploy in races, the aesthetic of the team and the way their riders are usually above 70kg, it makes me happy to see a team who can be so active and have authority in races and don’t have to be the smallest they possibly could. They have their own goals and they stick to them, they highlight that races aren’t always about the GC battle. 

Yeah, Abrahamsen might lose the King of the Mountains jersey on stage 4 when he has to battle pure climbers on the Galibier [editor's note: he didn't!] and he’ll probably lose the Points Classification jersey when the outright sprinters start to appear but until then I’ll enjoy watching my new favourite Norseman battle his way around the upcoming stages.

Stage 5 – Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Saint-Vulbas

1-1-1 Things of the Tour de France

by Mathieu Fraisse

one food, one fact and one local rider, for every place on Le Tour

1 food : la fondue

Keep it cheesy! After the raclette, let's melt some more cheese for today's local food segment.

Basically just take a huge pot, choose three local cheeses (among Beaufort, emmental, gruyère or Abondance), melt it with white wine and dip some bread in it. Easy, yet so delicious!

Recipe here.

1 rider : Simon Guglielmi

Our first French rider of the Tour is unfortunately not riding it this year 😞

But as the peloton will be crossing his Chambéry hometown, I'm sure he will be cheering on his Arkéa teammates to power Arnaud Démare on this flat stage.

Breakaway specialist and valuable domestique Simon Guglielmi can already be proud of his team as they have already won a stage!

1 fact: Elephants in the Alps?

If you ever visited Chambéry City centre you might have stumbled upon a rather odd monument: an 18 metre-high fountain featuring four elephants!

Well you don't have to be an animal expert to know that elephants are not a species from the Alps!

This fountain is a tribute to military adventurer Comte (count) de Boigne, who made his fortune and name in India with the Marathas. At his death, he donated 20 millions of French francs to the city. A well deserved statue for the city's benefactor!


The first full stage on French soil, stage 5 should provide another opportunity for the sprinters, and after a few of the major protagonists fell at the first hurdle on stage 3, their teams will be in no mood to let a breakaway have their day. That being said I think it’s unlikely that we see another day where no-one is interested in going up the road, as chances at the Tour de France are precious and sponsors are impatient. In an ideal world, we’ll see a strong break go up the road – with just four stages under our belts the time gaps are already so vast that there’s really not much need for the GC teams to worry – and see a thrilling break vs peloton battle, the likes of which have become more common in the past few seasons, and I for one am absolutely delighted about this.

WBR Team Predictions: Peter, Emma - Mark Cavendish; Mathieu - Arnaud de Lie; Katy, Stine - Mads Pedersen

Before you go...

The reactions from yesterday's stage and Biniam's historic victory were still rolling today. Check out this brilliant clip from his home nation of Eritrea.

But it was this post on Twitter, from Biniam himself, which gave me goosebumps.

Until tomorrow, thanks for reading!

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