Orcières-Merlette (dpa) – Emanuel Buchmann didn’t look very happy after the 4th stage at the ski station at 1,825 meters above sea level.
“It wasn’t 100 percent yet. When it got really fast, it was still missing for me,” the German admitted hopefully after suffering a minor setback during the first climbing show of the 107th Tour de France. The fourth of last year lost nine seconds on the mountain slope in Orcières-Merlette to the victorious ex-ski jumper and top favorite Primoz Roglic, against whose strength he was powerless.
Buchmann fought hard for the connection up to a kilometer from the finish, after which he had to let go. “I haven’t lost much yet, that’s still within limits,” said Buchmann. Rather, it should have worried him that no teammate was around. “I had to get into position myself on the mountain. That was not ideal,” complained the Ravensburger.
Others had a more comfortable starting position. Roglic was perfectly positioned by his super team Jumbo-Visma, the explosive climbing specialist did the rest himself. “I showed that I was ready. I came back and feel better every day,” said Roglic. who won after 160.5 kilometers before his fellow countryman Tadej Pogacar. This underlined his role as a favorite, even though he did not endanger the yellow jersey of French star Julian Alaphilippe.
Where cycling legend Eddy Merckx lost almost nine minutes on the Spanish climbing tops Luis Ocaña in 1971, Buchmann had only minor problems on the last 7.1-kilometer climb with an average gradient of 6.7 percent. “I haven’t recovered from the fall,” said the 27-year-old, adding: “There is still a long way to go to Paris. There are still many mountain stages.” For sports director Enrico Poitschke it was “no surprise” that his protégé lost some time. Buchmann fell badly before the tour on the Dauphiné tour.
Otherwise, the top favorites didn’t do much. Egan Bernal from Colombia was right on the two Slovenes and lost no time. Thibaut Pinot was also well represented.
Alaphilippe also struggled, but he made up for his weaker climbing ability with a different energy output. The darling of France will wear the yellow jersey for the 17th time in his career on Wednesday, taking him to ninth place in the French all-time standings – on the same level as former world champion André Darrigade and former tour champion Roger Pingeon. “An Art Déja-vu”, wrote the sports newspaper “L’Equipe” in view of Alaphilippe’s triumphant drive last year.
The decision on the day’s victory was made on the last kilometer when Roglic took over command. “My boys did a great job. I was in a good position,” said the 30-year-old. For Tony Martin’s teammate it was already the sixth victory of the season in 13 racing days. “It is nothing new that he drives so well. He has already done that in recent races,” said Buchmann.
Previously, a six-member breakaway with Nils Politt dominated the event. Immediately after the start, the sextet had fled and now had a four-minute lead. On a descent, Politt tried alone, but was overtaken again. It was the first time that the Paris-Roubaix runner-up performed in 2019. The Cologne man had already started the trip with back pain. However, on the penultimate mountain, Politt’s venture was over.
The sprinters are popular again in the 5th stage. More than 183 kilometers from Gap to Privas there are only two mountains of the fourth category.