Canny Dani's irresistible rise: 2020 Tour de France, stage 13
“Wait. Don’t take it up too early, that would be the big mistake.” Commentator Sean Kelly was talking ahead of the last minute of racing as Dani Martínez and Lennard Kämna approached the end of their slow-motion slugfest on the Puy Mary, but he might as well have been issuing a pearl of wisdom about the whole day.
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It was a backstabber of a stage, hurting the bunch more than might have been expected. We’re used to obvious up-down profiles that resemble Baron Munchausen lie detector tests being most brutal, but these narrow, twisting roads and 4,400 metres of climbing proved some of the most revealing of the race so far.
Patience is a card game played by pensioners and, evidently, a sprightly young Colombian. In the day’s big break, Martínez hid for most of the day, helped by the work of team-mates Hugh Carthy and Neilson Powless, who went off on his own Hail Mary. Intelligent racing; Smart-inez, you could say.
As Max Schachmann threatened to ride off with the stage, Martínez made his move, bringing the German’s team-mate Kämna with him. Most days, being the filler in a Bora-Hansgrohe sandwich would have been his downfall, leading the man in pink to keep impotently flicking his bony elbow like a rhythmless teenager at a school disco for a turn that’d never come.
But given the number of steep kilometres in the finale, Martínez opted to do all the chasing work, knowing he'd still have a decent chance with Kämna unable to get as much slipstreaming benefit.
The brutal last two kilometres were a couple too far for suffering Schachmann before the 24-year-old clinched a finale so nail-biting that Massif Central manicurists will be besieged with bookings tomorrow.
Another day, another victory for a Tour debutant. Dani boy is quite the rough diamond, found and polished off by EF Education First: first a Paris-Nice stage in spring, then Dauphiné victory and now this for one of the riders of the summer.
As one Colombian celebrated a memorable win, another suffered his heaviest time loss of the race to date. Egan Bernal’s screwed-up pain face across the line, finishing 38 seconds behind yellow jersey Roglic, could be used with the words: “Win the Tour again, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.”
Again, it was the Rog and Pog show upfront among the contenders. Is the Tour now a two-horse race between these Slovenian thoroughbreds? It looks that way, but the time gaps are still close enough to be exposed by an off-day in the high Alps. Sean Kelly’s quote goes for the Tour de France itself. Plus, Tadej Pogacar’s mum could always shout for him to stop playing and come in for dinner too.