The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders and the rest of the peloton were in for a very fast and hard day in the Pyrenees on stage 13 of Tour de France. Serge Pauwels did well to follow the top riders and move up in the general classification.
As expected, today’s stage started out in a furious pace with riders attacking non-stop in the opening kilometers. At the top of the first of three category 1 climbs, the group with the yellow jersey was down to just a dozen of riders. Pauwels had been very attentive near the front, searching for the right breakaway to join but at the end, only two riders got away.
Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) and Mikel Landa (Team Sky) quickly established a gap on the other GC riders. The duo worked well together but on the steep slopes towards the top of the final climb, Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) bridged across.
The four riders at the front took on the final 25 km with a gap of just over two minutes to the chase group, which never got much closer than that. Ultimately, Barguil sprinted to victory, while the leading rider Fabio Aru (Astana) and the overall favorites crossed the line 1:48 minutes later. Pauwels finished in 16th place, which saw the strong Belgian move up to 23rd place overall.
”I was hoping to get into the breakaway at some point but it was so intense the whole day. Only the best climbers were left at the front. I tried to hang on to the yellow jersey group and I was only dropped on the last two kilometers of the final climb. I think I rode a good stage. My condition is good and that gives me confidence for the Alps”.