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Tour de France

Danny van Poppel sprints to fifth place in Carcassonne

The riders left the city of Nîmes, this Friday, for the thirteenth stage of the Tour de France. On the eve of the first Pyrenean climbs, another day of transition was expected, as the 219 kilometers leading to Carcassonne included only one difficulty ranked fourth category category, the Côte du Pic Saint-Loup (5.5 km at 3.7% ), in the first 50 kilometers.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert were one of the first teams to go on the attack after the start, through Lorenzo Rota, Danny van Poppel and Georg Zimmermann. However, the sprinter teams were determined to only let a small group go, for the sake of control, which is why three men were given the go-ahead to escape at kilometer 25.

The trio occupied the lead for a good part of the day, kept at a maximum distance of 4 minutes by the peloton. Under almost 30 degrees, the gap melted as the kilometers passed, until a regrouping occurred 45 kilometers from the finish. Several counter-attacks, including that of Jan Bakelants, aimed to relaunch this stage. But nothing could avoid a bunch sprint, not even an attempt to split the peloton through echelons on the rural roads of the Carcassonne district 15 kilometers from the finish.

As the final approached, Danny van Poppel was brought to the front by his team-mates in the final kilometers, before the Dutchman skilfully moved into the wheels. After moving up many places behind Garcia Cortina, he then started his sprint in the wheel of the green jersey, Mark Cavendish. He eventually finished fifth on the line, and thus clinched the team’s first top 5 in this Tour de France.

The wind was blowing hard all day, sometimes from the side, sometimes headwind. A few teams tried to use it to create echelons, but I was always in the front so I didn't get caught. At first we thought there wouldn't be a sprint finish. But when we saw the team of the green jersey not letting more than 3 riders go, then controlling, we understood that we had to prepare for it. In the final, my teammates ideally dropped me off at the front. That was all I needed, because there were so many trains that the best option was to squeeze through the wheels next. I'm happy to get this top 5 for the team. My feelings were good from the start, and this result is encouraging for the future.


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