Lennard Kämna stood a little cold at the airport in Mende and quarreled with his still unfinished journey in the 109th Tour de France. “I did my best, what should you do,” said the 25-year-old after the sweaty 14th stage. “I’m not at 100 percent, but I felt good at the beginning and went into the group. In the end, however, it is these five or ten percent that are missing.”
At temperatures of well over 30 degrees, it was only enough for a victorious sprint against mountain king Simon Geschke for eighth place. The Australian Michael Matthews had long since secured the day’s victory single-handedly. Even after the 192.5 kilometer ride through the Massif Central, German cycling fans still have to wait for the first stage win in the 109th Tour de France.
After all, Geschke continued his record run in 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 German Bora-hansgrohe team is still waiting for a countable success. The prospects with Kämna and the Austrians Patrick Konrad and Felix Großschartner in a large breakaway group were dazzling. “What should we have done differently?” asked sporting director Rolf Aldag. “Being three in a group of 23 was awesome. But we weren’t the best.” Kämna has already announced the next break away attempt by German champion Nils Politt for Sunday.
The stars of the industry crossed the finish line 12:34 minutes after Matthews. The difficult, three-kilometre climb to the airfield, with an average gradient of 10.2 percent, did not go without a fight. Defending champion Tadej Pogacar made several attacks, which leader Jonas Vingegaard apparently followed effortlessly. The Dane is now 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 Megève – without success and missed the yellow jersey by eleven seconds.
Shortly after the start, a group of 23 riders had formed. In addition to Kämna, his teammates Konrad and Großschartner were also 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.
Sunday is probably the hottest day for the drivers on this tour. It can get up to 40 degrees warm on the 15th stage over 202.5 kilometers from Rodez to Carcassonne. It’s one of the last few chances for a mass finish for the sprinters.