When Kasper Asgreen continued the Danish festival with the 110th Tour de France, the completely exhausted Simon Geschke had already got off his bike. On Thursday, the weakened 37-year-old ended his tour of suffering about 73 kilometers from the finish in Bourg-en-Bresse. The strenuous stage in the Alps the day before had given the climber a hard time. The two and a half weeks, including demanding Alpine challenges, gnawed at Geschke.

“I just couldn’t eat anymore. The first two hours were okay. Little things with the stomach are enough in the third week. In the third hour I noticed that I was completely unplugged,” said Geschke, adding: “I was alone on the fourth category mountain. Another 80 km alone, especially after yesterday when I was completely empty, I just didn’t have any more reserves.”

In the fight for the day’s victory, the 28-year-old Asgreen stole the show from the sprinters. The Dane surprisingly won after 184.9 kilometers as part of a breakaway ahead of Dutchman Pascal Eenkhoorn and Norwegian Jonas Abrahamsen. The sprinters around superstar Jasper Philipsen gambled and missed the group by a few meters. Asgreen already provided the third Danish stage win this year after Mads Pedersen and Jonas Vingegaard, who continues to drive towards Paris in the yellow jersey. “They were extremely good up front. If you stay ahead of the headwind, then you deserve it,” Georg Zimmermann told ARD.

Philipsen missed his fifth stage win. The Belgian tried to attack the leading group a few meters from the finish, but finished fourth in Bourg-en-Bresse. The 25-year-old did not initially draw level with Marcel Kittel, who last celebrated five stage wins in 2017.

Geschke will only follow the final act in Paris as a spectator. The task seemed logical after his health problems. The day before, the man from Freiburg crossed the finish line at 2003 meters in Courchevel, totally exhausted. Only 80 seconds saved him from the time limit. Geschke then vomited on the way to the hotel and suffered from chills.

Of the seven German professionals, only five are still in the race. On Wednesday, Phil Bauhaus, who had previously celebrated three podium finishes in the sprint stages, gave up exhausted. “The Tour was brutally difficult this year. I would have liked to have arrived in Paris with him,” said teammate Nikias Arndt.

As expected, nothing changed at the top of the overall standings. Denmark’s defending champion Jonas Vingegaard is still 7:35 ahead of his rival Tadej Pogacar after his strong performances in the Alps. With three remaining stages to Paris, the 26-year-old can probably only win the Tour if he falls.

After the preliminary decision, Vingegaard’s home town of Glyngöre is planning the big party: “Breaking News! The celebration of Jonas Vingegaard in Glyngöre will take place on Thursday 7/27/23! The program will follow later!” it said on Thursday in a Facebook group in the Jutland town.

Vingegaard colleague Wout van Aert would also have been a promising candidate for the day’s win on Thursday. However, the Belgian did not even start. Vingegaard’s helper left the circuit before the 18th leg. The reason: His wife Sarah is expecting the second child.

On Friday, the escapees hope for their last chance in the 19th stage. For the professional cyclists, it’s the hilly 172.8 kilometers between Moirans-en-Montagne and Poligny in the Jura Mountains. At the end of the section, a long straight awaits the drivers. Such routes suit the German mountain specialist Georg Zimmermann. However, after almost three weeks of touring, the reserves of strength of the pros are almost exhausted. On Saturday there is still a demanding mountain stage in the Vosges.