While Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) lit up the road on the climb of the Peyresourde, it was far from a day of universal positives, with a number of pre-Tour favourites falling by the wayside on the hardest mountain stage to date in the 2020 Tour de France.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) retained the yellow jersey after initially being dropped on the Peyresourde and he finished with a group of nine riders, all of whom are still in the hunt for the podium in Paris.
Apart from the winners and those that were at least on parity for the stage, there were significant losses on the general classification. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) had the highest profile of any rider who fell out of the GC fight, blowing up on the hors categorie climb of the Port de Balès and conceding over 18 minutes on the stage to the yellow jersey.
Any hope of a repeat of Julian Alaphilippe's (Deceuninck-QuickStep) heroics from 2019 have also been dashed on a mixed day for French cycling, that also saw a French stage-winner in Nans Peters and Romain Bardet (both AG2R-La Mondiale) steal a few seconds on his rivals for yellow. Alaphilippe conceded over 11 minutes on the stage.
The other riders that conceded time on the general classification did so less dramatically, losing less time overall.
Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) sacrificed his personal chances to try and set things up for team leader Primož Roglič on the climb of the Peyresourde. Dumoulin put on a vicious turn of pace that thinned down the main group before Pogačar launched his move.
Teammate George Bennett spoke of Dumoulin's selflessness after the race.
"He said on the race radio, 'I'm not feeling great, and I'm not here to get tenth in the Tour'," reported Bennett of Dumoulin's words. "So he's put the team first, he's committed to Primož and that's huge credit to him."
Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d'Italia winner, almost made it back to the leaders before the summit, but Pogačar's late attack forced Bernal to chase, and at that point Dumoulin conceded ground. He came over the line just under two minutes after the yellow jersey group and dropped ten places on GC from fifth to tenth.
Enric Mas (Movistar), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) lost 38 seconds to their main rivals on the stage, while last year's fourth-placed rider, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) faired even worse, losing a minute and three seconds. He is now a minute and 25 seconds off yellow in 11th place.
Sports Director Enrico Poitschke of Bora-Hansgrohe commented upon Buchmann, who has still been feeling the effects of a hard crash during the Critérium du Dauphiné.
"It was an expected hard stage, especially the last two climbs," said Poitschke. 'That combination is very hard. The pace from Jumbo-Visma was very high.
"On the first HC climb we had Emu [Buchmann] there, but on the last climb he lost contact. He was completely empty and he lost time today, but not so much [lost a minute and three seconds to Yates]. From that side, hopefully the next days it will go better and better, and he will be 100 per cent back."
Esteban Chaves, 'The Colombian Kangaroo', looked to be riding well during the stage, but finished on the same time as Buchmann, he currently sits two minutes and 37 seconds off yellow. Fellow Colombian Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) fell further, losing two minutes as part of the group that finished with Dumoulin, with Alejandro Valverde also in that selection.
The Tour de France continues in the Pyrenees tomorrow, with another mountainous stage from Pau to Laurens set to test the peloton with steep climbs on the agenda. Watch the action from 8.05pm AEST on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker and from 8.30pm on SBS HD and SBS On Demand.