Ion Izagirre emerged victorious from an absorbing mid-mountain Tour de France stage which started with a flurry of attacks that lasted to the end on Thursday.
The 169-kilometer stage took riders across the Beaujolais vineyards on a route with two big climbs in the second half of the trek. The first two hours of racing were furious, with several dozen riders dropped over the first 25 kilometers.
Izagirre attacked from a group of strong and experienced breakaway riders in the final climb — the brutal ascent of the 5.3-kilometer Col de la Croix Rosier. Tucked in an aerodynamic position, the Basque rider took all the risks in the downhill, then used his strong time trial skills to thwart his rivals’ chase after a tremendous 31-kilometer solo effort.
“It’s incredible. For the whole Tour so far I tried to break away and it didn’t work out but today, yes,” he said. “I was confident in my strength. I knew that if I earned enough lead, my adversaries wouldn’t have me in sight and it would play in my favor.”
It was also the second stage win for a Basque rider after Pello Bilbao claimed stage 10.
“It’s a very Basque Tour de France. It started at home for us and we took two stage wins,” said Izagirre, in reference to the Tour start from the Spanish town of Bilbao this year.
Mathieu Burgaudeau was second in the stage, and Matteo Jorgenson completed the podium.
Izagirre’s previous Tour win was in 2016 in the Alpine town of Morzine. He’s also won stages at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta.
There were no major changes in the general classification. Jonas Vingegaard kept his 17-second lead over two-time champion Tadej Pogacar after the rivals remained together throughout the day. Jai Hindley remained in third place, lagging 2 minutes, 40 seconds off the pace.
The fight for the yellow jersey is expected to resume on Friday on the ascent of the Grand Colombier, a mammoth climb in the Jura which concludes the 13th stage.
It was a long time coming for Izagirre but he performed a master piece with a solo win from 30KM out. Relive the last KM ⤵️
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 13, 2023