Lennard Kämna and Simon Geschke fought another German sprint duel on the airfield in Mende, but the Australian Michael Matthews had already secured the day’s victory. Even after the arduous ride through the central massif, German cycling fans still have to wait for the first stage victory in the 109th Tour de France.
On Saturday, Kämna took eighth place in a larger breakaway group on the 14th stage from Saint-Étienne to Mende over 192.5 kilometers. Simon Geschke finished ninth, but continued his record run in a mountain jersey.
The 36-year-old Berliner secured the white dress with the red dots for the sixth time in a row. No German has ridden in a mountain jersey for so long.
The Dane Jonas Vingegaard continues to wear yellow, who parried some attacks from defending champion Tadej Pogacar on the three-kilometer climb with an average gradient of 10.2 percent. Both finished 12:34 behind Matthews. This puts the 25-year-old Vingegaard 2:22 minutes ahead of the Slovenian. Ex-tour champion Geraint Thomas remains third, but he lost a few seconds.
Matthews had the greatest stamina on the crisp climb to Mende. The classics specialist had already broken away from the large breakaway group and finally prevailed in front of Alberto Bettiol and the French star Thibaut Pinot. Kämna and Geschke couldn’t keep up the pace and had to let it drop.
Especially Kämna seems to be chasing his luck on the tour. The young North German had already tried it on the stages after Super Planche des Belles Filles and Megeve – without success and missed the yellow jersey by eleven seconds.
“I’m not at 100 percent, but I felt good at the beginning and made it into the group. But in the end it’s these five or ten percent that are missing,” said Kämna, adding: “I did my best, what should you do. The heat is not my dream weather, but it was okay up to the last mountain.”
The favorites only tested each other briefly. Pogacar tried several times to escape from Vingegaard – but without success. The pace was too high for other podium contenders like Thomas or Nairo Quintana, they lost a few seconds.
Shortly after the start, a group of 23 riders was formed, in addition to Kämna his teammates Patrick Konrad and Felix Großschartner (both Austria) were there, which was a comfortable situation for the Bora-hansgrohe team. But it shouldn’t work out in the final.
Geschke, meanwhile, collected a total of three points on the first three climbs. That was enough to consolidate his lead in the mountains classification. He no longer took part in the fight for the day’s victory. Saving energy was the order of the day.