A fierce battle over Tuesday’s terrain which included north of 3000 altitude metres, the breakaway battled it out for the win, while behind the team helped Romain Bardet to finish safely amongst the GC group after what was a tough and hot opening to the stage.
It was a fast start to the day’s proceedings with multiple attacks from the flag drop. Team dsm-firmenich were particularly active with Matt Dinham, Chris Hamilton and Kevin Vermaerke all making it into groups that got small gaps before being brought back. Approaching the top of the first climb, Bardet put in a dig which saw the bunch split and a group go clear that included the Frenchman and several of the big GC riders. Building up a gap of 40 seconds, a fierce chase from the peloton followed and after around ten kilometres they were brought back. The latest attackers were only around 20 seconds ahead so counter surges flew from the bunch and the pace remained infernal. Bardet suffered through this round of attacks, and had to let go of the peloton, with the guys quickly rallying around him.
With the help of John Degenkolb, Hamilton and Dinham; plus a few other teams who were intent on closing the two groups, a strong chase and brilliant teamwork saw the two minute gap close after around a further 30 kilometres, with Vermaerke dropping from the peloton ahead to give one last pull. From there, the team continued to support Bardet who managed to build back into the stage. Despite a strong tempo at moments and more riders dropping from the yellow jersey group towards the finale, Bardet and Hamilton would cross the line safely in Issoire alongside the peloton – after a true show of teamwork from everyone.