By Christine Vardaros
We’re not even a week into the 103rd edition of the Tour de France and our guys at BORA - Argon 18 have already cashed in on their wildcard to enter the race. They’ve been combative and aggressive throughout, which is already paying off.
They’ve kicked off the race with the polka dot jersey and have infiltrated the big breaks in five of the six stages thus far. Along the way, they’ve also collected quite a few classification points through intermediate sprints.
This year’s edition of the Tour de France was kicked off with an attack by BORA - Argon 18 riders Paul Voss and Jan Bárta. Together with Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling), they created the very first break of the Tour. Using their advantage in numbers, Bárta smartly jumped to get Howard to chase. Voss’ counter attack earned him the single point available on the summit of Côte d’Avranches at the 20.5km point in the race.
While Bárta kept Howard occupied, Voss held onto his gap over these two to take the second mountain point available at the summit of Côte des falaises de Champeaux 20km later. As winner of the only two mountain sprints on the stage, Voss earned himself the coveted polka dot climbers’ jersey.
Voss got the job done on his Argon 18 Nitrogen Pro bike. Not only is it his first ever leaders’ jersey at the Tour, but also the first ever won by his BORA - Argon 18 team.
Once the points were pocketed, Voss drifted back to the peloton in support of their team’s sprinter Sam Bennett. Unfortunately, the sprint did not end well for Bennett as he hit the ground hard with 250 meters to go.
The injuries he sustained include extensive abrasions to his shoulder and an injured hand that required stitches. Falling in line with the team’s combative spirit, our wounded warrior not only finished the next stage but is still in the race.
DEFENDING THE POLKA DOTS
The next day, Voss attacked right away, giving it everything he had to defend the polka dot jersey. He was soon joined by three riders, including teammate Cesare Benedetti. Despite his valiant efforts including a solo jump off the front, he lost it to Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo).
Voss then set his sights instead on the stage win, but was unfortunately caught with 2km to go. As consolation, Benedetti and Voss took home points in the only intermediate points classification sprint as 1st and 2nd respectively across the line.
SCHILLINGER'S TURN IN THE BREAK
Stage 4 again saw the BORA – Argon 18 jersey off the front with Andreas Schillinger battling it out in a four-man break. Before they were swept up by the peloton on a stage marked for sprinters, Schillinger napped top honors for the only intermediate points classification sprint of the day.
HUZARSKI SHINES ON FIRST MOUNTAIN STAGE
Five days in, on the first mountain stage of the tour, Bartosz Huzarski fought his way to an impressive 6th place. Despite the very fast start to the race with an average of 44.4km/h, Huzarski managed to form a break with eight other riders just after the first KOM of the day.
Following the most challenging stretch of the course, the lead riders split, with Bartosz finding himself fighting for 3rd with Rafał Majka (Tinkoff). At 20 meters before the line, a group of GC favorites caught Bartosz, relegating him to 6th.
BARTA GOES BIG, ARCHBOLD BATTLES FOR THE WIN
On Stage 6, Bárta was the hero of the day. Of the three KOM’s and one sprint up for offer, he won 2 of the KOM’s and the sprint. The other KOM sprint went to his only partner in the all-day break Yukia Arashio (Lampre – Merida). The two stayed away until 20km before the end, leaving the stage win for the sprinters. This time around, it was BORA – Argon 18 rider Shane Archbold who took it home with a solid 10th place.
Not only is it Archbold’s first Tour de France, but also his first time as the team’s sprinter. As he is usually the final lead-out rider for Bennett, he pulled it off quite well. We take this as yet another positive sign of more fine racing to come in the next two weeks from our BORA – Argon 18 guys.
ABOUT CHRISTINE VARDAROS
Christine has been a cycling copywriter and professional cyclist (mtb, road, cyclocross), both for over fifteen years. As a multi-discipline bike racer, she is intimately familiar with a wide range of cycling worlds from the underground crowd to the ultra-professional scene. She has ridden for top teams such as Belgium-based Lotto-Belisol, in addition to having competed for USA in over thirty combined World Cups and World Championships. Learn more about her.
Top image: © Le Tour de France