Team Sunweb came to the 2020 Tour de France with a young team and one eye on the future. But that future is now as they once again masterminded their charges perfectly on the finale to Stage 14 that bore all the hallmarks of a spring Classic.
By
SBS Cycling Central

13 Sep 2020 - 3:09 AM  UPDATED 13 Sep 2020 - 5:36 AM

Søren Kragh Andersen opened up the throttle three kilometres from the line to execute another cunning Sunweb plan this time on the 194km stage from Clermont Ferrand to Lyon. 

While the Dane is himself only 26 years old, he said "young guy" Hirschi's intrepid victory on Stage 12 of the Tour de France motivated him. 

"When you see this young guy doing these amazing things," Kragh Andersen said. "I also get inspired and I believe a bit more in myself. 

"It's amazing. We didn't expect to go so well, we're here with the youngest team of the Tour I think. It's also with the purpose of the future but we're performing already, we're super happy."

"It gives the whole group motivation we believe in ourselves."

Tiesj Benoot was deployed first, soloing over the penultimate climb. His attack sparked a flurry in the peloton behind with the Belgian reabsorbed 7.5kms from the finish. 

Lennard Kämna's (BORA-hansgrohe) attack on the final climb was shut down by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) with Kämna's team mate Peter Sagan in tow, and a fruitless attack behind by Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) drew a Jumbo-Visma policed peloton with five kilometres to go, forcing a further shutdown. 

This played into the hands of Sunweb as Hirschi pulled away with four kilometres to go, sparking a response by Sagan and Greg van Avermaet (CCC), again stringing out the peloton and reducing the team numbers of key rivals. 

Kragh Andersen grabbed his chance, his Sunweb team mates anchoring across the road playing the perfect decoy as the GC teams also grew disinterested in cooperating too hard at the front after reaching the safety of the 3kms to go mark. 

"I had really good legs the whole day," Kragh Andersen said. "Of course you never know how good the other guys are. 

"It took a long time during the Tour for me to get confidence in myself but I knew if I suffer they are for sure also suffering so I went for it."

"I feel emotions i dream about this but it's always hard to say i'm good enough before you have done it. I'm just amazed."

The stage began with Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) kicking off a proper breakaway, powering away from the pack after a flurry of attacks. 

By the eighth kilometre their small 10 second lead tempted across Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). Eight kilometres later with the gap to the bunch just 15 seconds, Casper Pedersen tried to join his team mate Bol but after they got the call from the team car to dial it back, Bol fell back to Pedersen and they rejoined the peloton. 

Küng and Theuns meandered alone towards the category four Côte du Château d'Aulteribe, the Swiss rider taking the one KOM point at the 32nd kilometre, the deficit back to the bunch three and a half minutes. 

As the peloton hit that climb, another big story of the stage unfurled. BORA-hansgrohe threw the hammer down, Sagan and Maximilian Schachmann tearing away from the peloton with Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) desparately fighting to hang on. 

Sagan and Schachmann marched away to grab 15 points for the Slovakian at the intermediate stage, but Bennett wasn't done. When he came through with the bunch, the Irishman finished behind Trentin to bag 10 points for himself, his lead over Sagan at this juncture 61 points. 

Back at the front of the race, on the category 2 Col du Béal, Küng dropped Theuns 1.5kms from the top and helped himself to the five KOM points and a 20 second advantage over the Belgian. 

Theuns gave up the struggle and returned to the peloton with 110kms to go. As Sagan crested the Col du Béal with the bunch, Bennett had slipped back 50 seconds, surrounded by most of the Deceuninck-Quick Step Wolfpack. 

After Küng was first again at the next KOM on the Côte du Courreau, he dropped the pace until once again reunited with the bunch 80kms from the line.

With 78kms to go, Bennett and his team mates capitulated, living to fight another day and hoping the second part of Sagan's plan would fail.

While the seven-time green jersey winner didn't take the stage victory and therefore the maximum 30 points on offer, Sagan’s reward for crossing the line fourth was a further 18 points, which sees him 43 points in deficit to Bennett. 

The 2020 Tour de France continues with Stage 15 where you can expect yellow jersey fireworks as we head 174kms from Lyon to the Grand Colombier. Watch the race on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker from 8:15pm AEST and on SBS HD / SBS On Demand from 8:30pm AEST.