COL DU TOURMALET, France (Reuters) – Thibaut Pinot led a French one-two ahead of overall leader Julian Alaphilippe to win the 14th stage of the Tour de France, a 117.5-km mountain trek from Tarbes on Saturday.
The Groupama-FDJ rider jumped away from a small group 200 metres from the line to beat yellow jersey holder Alaphilippe and third-placed Steven Kruijswijk of the Netherlands by six seconds.
Defending champion Geraint Thomas lost contact one kilometre from the finish and crossed the line in eighth place, 36 seconds off the pace.
His Ineos team mate, Colombian Egan Bernal, was fifth, eight seconds behind Pinot, who claimed his third career stage win on the Tour.
The in-form man of the first week, Pinot had lost one minute and 40 seconds when caught at the wrong end of a bunch split on the eve of the rest day last Monday and he had promised he would use his ‘rage’ to bounce back.
The 29-year-old duly delivered, looking strong during the whole ascent to the Col du Tourmalet, a 19km climb at an average gradient of 7.4%, and accelerated just before the final bend.
“Justice is done with that win today,” said Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot.
Pinot is now sixth overall, 3:12 behind Alaphilippe, who extended his lead over second-placed Thomas to 2:02.
Kruijswijk is third, 2:14 off the pace, with Bernal 3:00 behind Alaphilippe, who was facing a huge test in the first high mountain stage of the race.
Sunday’s 15th stage is a 185km punishing ride from Limoux, ending with a gruelling ascent up to Prat d’Albis.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Tony Lawrence)