Hat-trick for Sunweb at Tour de France
Having already raised their arms aloft in victory twice so far at this year’s Tour de France, Team Sunweb set out with a plan to make it three wins this afternoon on stage 19. After another perfectly timed late attack, Søren Kragh Andersen went solo all the way to the line with Nikias Arndt perfectly disrupting any chase behind.
With the Alps behind them, the peloton were faced with an intriguing parcours on stage 19 of the Tour de France today. Despite there only being one categorised climb, the road was constantly up-and-down throughout the stage, particularly in the closing 50 kilometres.
As expected, there were a flurry of attacks at the start of the stage but as the dust settled it was only Cavagna that forged on alone at the head of the race. Behind in the peloton, Nicholas Roche did a great job and started setting pace alongside Bora-Hansgrohe to ensure that the gap didn’t grow out any further than two minutes and 30 seconds, with a view of setting up Cees Bol for the sprint finish.
The kilometres ticked by and the Roche-led bunch slowly ate into Cavagna’s advantage with the Frenchman only holding a small gap through the intermediate sprint with 50 kilometres to go. This is the moment when the attacks started in the bunch, with the team always active and ever present in any dangerous group. All of the initial moves were brought to heel before the race winning break went with 25 kilometres to go.
Søren Kragh Andersen and Nikias Arndt made the split for the team, with the duo riding well as the group extended their lead. It soon became tactical in the closing 15 kilometres and Kragh Andersen sensed his opportunity to attack on one of the many unclassified climbs. Quickly building up a gap of ten seconds, those in the chasing group fanned across the road and Kragh Andersen forged on, extending his lead even more. Arndt did a brilliant job to further halt any organised chase by quickly tagging onto any counter attack.
As a result, Kragh Andersen was able to sit up and savour the crowds as he entered the final few hundred metres, taking an excellent second stage win for him – and the Team Sunweb’s third of the race. Behind, Arndt tried a long range attack to secure the one-two for the team, but he was passed in the closing metres and crossed the line for a very credible sixth place finish and yet another top ten for the team.
“The motorbike told me you have one minute and I realised in the last kilometre that I had the second win.” beamed an elated Kragh Andersen at the finish.
“The first one is of course magical, but today is even more crazy in my opinion; I’m speechless. First of all, Nicholas did a great job on the front the whole day. We were going for Cees with a sprint finish but the race developed, and it was my job to be represented in the attacks. Nikias was there so we planned that I would attack from the group and he would go for the sprint. The moment came after Trentin’s attack when it was super hard. I took the chance and I was lucky they let me go.”
Team Sunweb coach Matt Winston added: “Quickly we reverted to ‘scenario b’ after the intermediate sprint where we saw groups going clear and we knew what was going to happen. We were in a really nice situation with Søren and Nikias in the breakaway but it was a world class group.
"We said to each other that we’ll have to go long and Søren stepped up to the challenge and made a really nice attack, and all of the guys behind started to look at each other. Søren is also a really strong guy and if you give him ten seconds – he’s gone. Nikias was able to just follow then behind and mark things to disrupt the chase.
"I think all together it was a really nice job from the guys today once again. The atmosphere we’ve got in the team at the moment is really good. Everyone is in great spirits and we’re all hungry to keep moving forward, keep learning, talk about what we’ve done and keep progressing. The whole team is hungry to keep doing well and keep getting good results.”