Schär Enjoys Day at the Front of the Race on Tour de France Stage 1320. juillet 2018, Valence (FRA) — Road Team
Michael Schär spent the day in the breakaway on Tour de France stage 13 before attacking solo in the closing kilometers of the stage to secure the elusive red number of the Most Combative Rider while Greg Van Avermaet was in the mix in the bunch sprint and finished fifth on the line in Valence.
It was another fast start to the day on stage 13 today with the peloton heading out of Bourg d'Oisans and gently descending towards the base of the Côte de Brié, the first of two categorized climbs both of which were just small bumps in the road in comparison to the previous three days of racing.
A two-rider breakaway initially went clear in the opening kilometers of the day before a second pair, including BMC Racing Team's Schär, reacted to bridge across heading onto the climb after around 30km, of the 169.5km course.
However, with the remaining sprinters' teams looking for an opportunity to set up their leaders in the finale of the stage, the gap to Schär and his fellow leaders was kept under tight control and at the halfway mark, the deficit stood at around two minutes.
Approaching the 60km to go mark and the beginning of the Côte de Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans, the gap fell quickly to under one minute with the peloton picking up the pace behind Schär, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas Scully (EF-Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) and Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis).
Schär continued to push on as part of the breakaway going into closing kilometers with the advantage holding steady at around one minute before a more determined chase, intensified by the threat of crosswinds, saw the gap fall to inside 30 seconds.
It was at this point that the Swiss rider decided to try his luck and attacked off the front of the race to go solo and extend his lead over the rest of the field back out to 50 seconds with 20km to go.
Approaching the 10km to go mark, Schär was digging deep 30 seconds ahead of the peloton and his strength was evident as he was able to hold them off until inside the final 6km.
Despite a technical run into the finish and an uphill drag to the line, the bunch was all together, albeit strung out, when the sprint was launched. Van Avermaet stayed well-positioned when the finish line came into view and he eventually secured his fifth top ten finish of the Tour de France so far by powering to fifth on the line behind Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe).
Schär's impressive effort saw him step onto the Tour de France podium at the end of day after being awarded the prize for the Most Combative Rider of the stage.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
"I gave it my all. I really tried today. I planned to go in the breakaway this morning and then we went out for as long as possible. My other three breakaway companions were not so sure about it and it didn't help that we had a breakaway specialist like De Gendt with us as the bunch didn't give us any time. They gave us two minutes and with that you don't have anything to play with so, I really tried everything."
"I was hoping that it would be tricky in the city and that there would be a lot of corners as then you have a little bit of an advantage on your own. The bunch needs to brake the same as you so, I was hoping for that but it didn't arrive and it was just a massive stretch of big roads with a lot of wind and at the end, I thought the wind was coming from everywhere."
"I kept on believing. It was difficult with the sprinters' teams but you never know and I told myself that there is always a chance. If you never give up maybe one day it works out. It is definitely cool to have the red number. It is something honorable and even when I came back into the bunch some of the guys were already saying congrats on the ride so, that was also something cool."
Greg Van Avermaet:
"It was a good stage for us. It was great to see Michi in a breakaway and winning the Most Combative Rider prize. I am really happy for him that he is on the podium. He fully deserves it after a lot of hard work in the first week. We also saw how strong he is as he could stay in front of the peloton for a long time."
"In the end, I just gave it a try. It was an uphill finish and I'm pretty good at those so I was happy that I could get in position and keep it to the line. It is always good to go with the race. We had a good first week and I think now it will be about continuing to try to make results and be at the front like Michi did today."
Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:
"It was nice to see Michi in the breakaway today. It gave a lot of motivation to him and to the team. It was on a little climb that he tried something as you never know what might happen. Maybe the sprinters' teams start to look at each and wait. When you feel like you have the legs it's always good to try."
"Now there are fewer sprinters, there is less fighting to be in position and it was great that at 3km we could be in front. We knew the road was narrow and that there was a little climb until 600m to go that would make it harder for the sprinters. That is why Greg tried and he did it well."
Tour de France
Stage 13: Bourg d'Oisans > Valence, 169.5km
Top 3: 1. Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) 2. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 3. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 5. Greg Van Avermaet 43. Stefan Küng 72. Simon Gerrans