BORA-hansgrohe take seventh on demanding Tour de France Team Time Trial.
Having taken the race’s coveted Maillot Jaune after his sprint victory on stage 2, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, started the day in yellow, proudly wearing the jersey for the first time in BORA-hansgrohe’s history. However, today’s Team Time Trial took place over a demanding parcours that didn’t play to the Slovak rider’s strengths. In spite of this, Peter rode hard with his teammates to post the seventh fastest time of the day, keeping Rafał Majka in contention in the GC race, as the Polish rider climbed to eleventh in the overall standings.
It’s been three years since the Tour de France hosted a Team Time Trial, but the circuit of the town of Cholet and its surrounding countryside would mean there was something for riders of all abilities today. The 35.5km route would take in climbs, descents, street sections, tight bends and long straights, however, the most important thing would be to make sure all the riders stayed together, as the team’s time would be taken from the fourth rider to cross the line. The more technical finish meant a slower second half could be expected, but hot weather and headwinds would also play their part in making the day challenging.
The Team Tactics
At the start of the day, the weather forecast predicted there would be wind on the course. On parts of the parcours this would mean a tailwind, but at points, this meant headwinds would slow riders – especially in the final kilometres. On such a demanding course over varied terrain, the aim would be to stay together as long as possible and not to lose too many riders on the climbs. Riding to protect Rafał Majka in the overall standings, the tactics would not be to win, but to ensure that the winning team was kept in touch and not to lose too many seconds.
Starting the day last as the team of the Maillot Jaune holder, UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, BORA-hansgrohe. had a slight advantage in knowing how well other teams had performed and any sections of the course that caused particular problems. The aim was to finish in less than forty minutes, and after staying together from the start, the team reached the midway point with seven of their eight riders still on the train. With 10km remaining, the efforts were beginning to take their toll, with both Marcus Burghardt and the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, dropping off, but in spite of this, four riders crossed the line to take seventh position with a time of 39:36 – fifty seconds down on the stage winners, BMC. While Peter had lost the Yellow Jersey, the Slovak rider would start tomorrow’s road stage in the Maillot Vert of points leader, while Rafał Majka climbed twelve places to eleventh in the GC as the first real shakeup of the overall standings gave a taste of what was to come in the next three weeks.
01 BMC Racing 38:46
02 Team Sky +0:04
03 Quick-Step Floors +0:07
07 BORA – hansgrohe +0:50
From the Finish Line
"It was a tough day out there and we all suffered a lot. My legs felt really good and I could push a lot but we never found the right rhythm today, so we lost a few more seconds than we would have liked. The position I find myself in the GC now is still fine, and there are still a lot of tricky stages ahead of us where we can gain back some time." – Rafał Majka
"I had bad legs today, from the start. It was really hot and I also lost my bottle on a bump, just 400 meters into the race. I gave my best, as I always do, but I also suffered a lot to respect the coveted yellow jersey I had. I wish I could have contributed a little bit more to Rafal's GC quest today but this is the way it is in sports. You have good days, you have difficult days. Tomorrow we'll have another chance and, once again, we will give it our all." - Peter Sagan, UCI World Champion
"I couldn't say it was a bad TTT but it wasn't our best one either. I think we didn't show our full potential today. The guys didn’t find their rhythm at the beginning, they did their best and fought to the end. I think everybody was pretty nervous with the first yellow jersey ever in our squad, which is understandable. Peter didn‘t have his best day either but he gave his best to support the team. In the end, we limited our losses and 50“ down in the GC is not bad at all, but we hoped to do a little better."– Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director