Completely exhausted and anxious, Lennard Kämna stood at the finish line at 1,460 meters; a little later his dream of wearing the yellow jersey was shattered. The North German with the big heart of a fighter missed the coveted maillot jaune by just eleven seconds on a chaotic stage in the Alps.
On the tenth stage over 148.1 kilometers from Morzine Les Portes du Soleil to Megève, which was temporarily interrupted due to climate activists on the road and was accompanied by major corona concerns in the team around dominator Tadej Pogacar, Kämna came in tenth in a breakaway group Target. Pogacar reached the Alpine resort 8:32 minutes later. That was enough for the Slovenian to secure a yellow card.
“I felt like everyone was racing against me. It wasn’t fun in the leading group. I rode everything I had for the last two kilometers. The victory was gone anyway,” said Kämna, who then followed the thriller of seconds on his racing machine with a towel. But Pogacar was merciless like four days earlier in Planche des Belles Filles. The Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen got the day’s victory.
Nevertheless, the Germans were among the protagonists on this stage in the Alps: Kämna’s compatriot Georg Zimmermann was also in the leading group and finished sixth. And Simon Geschke successfully defended his mountain jersey. Kämna is second overall.
Almost exactly 25 years after Jan Ullrich’s triumph, Kämna was very close to becoming the 15th German to win the yellow jersey. The last German leader was Tony Martin in 2015. In contrast to the four-time time trial world champion, Kämna is also a man for the mountains, he had already won the Tour mountain stage to Villard-de-Lans in 2020, and that only triumphed in May Lightweight from the Bora-hansgrohe team at the Giro on Mount Etna.
Like last Friday, when Pogacar snatched the stage win from Kämna 100 meters from the finish, the former junior world champion from Germany presented himself again in attack mode. Kämna attacked in a breakaway group and drove out minute by minute. On the final climb it got tighter and in the end the lead wasn’t enough.
Climate activists had previously caused the race to be interrupted. A good 36 kilometers from the finish, there was a standstill after up to 20 demonstrators blocked the race and ignited pyrotechnics on the street.
The day was less stressful for Geschke. Due to the large escape group, the mountain jersey was not in danger for the Berlin veteran with the full beard.
The man in yellow, on the other hand, has a corona alarm. Two other teammates from Pogacar tested positive, noble helper Rafal Majka was allowed to continue the journey for the time being because the Pole is considered to be hardly infectious. “It is a very difficult situation. We drove together every day, but at the hotel we try to avoid each other as much as possible. I just hope nobody else got infected,” Pogacar said.
The first difficult high mountain stage on Wednesday will show how competitive the Slovenian’s team still is. New Zealander George Bennett also had to drop out on Tuesday after a positive test, previously Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen from Pogacar’s team had been hit. Since the Australian Luke Durbridge from the BikeExchange-Jayco team also tested positive, the tour recorded corona cases number four and five.
The first major exchange of blows is likely to take place on Wednesday, when the 2642 meter high mountain giant Col du Galibier is first climbed. At the end there is a climb to the Col du Granon, another mountain of the highest category.