Tadej Pogačar climbs Mont Ventoux

Tadej Pogačar climbs Mont Ventoux. Credit: Tour de France/Twitter

The Tour de France Rest Day is upon us again. Its a chance for riders and fans to catch their breath before the final rush to Paris.

The Tour de France is 15 stages through, with a brutal third week coming up. The second Tour de France Rest Day is an opportunity to catch up and get ready for the final week. To catch up on the first week, read our first Rest Day Update here.

For the basics of the race, read our preview here, and for an inside look at the storylines of the race, read our deep dive preview here.

Pogačar Watch

Of the 184 riders that started the race, 147 remain. The man who has ridden the first 15 stages, and done it in the fastest time is  Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). At the end of Stage 9, Pogačar took the yellow jersey, and has not looked back.

He now has a 5:18 lead of Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) in second place, with Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) in third 5:32 back. Pogačar not only has a handy buffer, but has looked the best climber and time triallist in the race, and is expected to extend his lead in the final week of the race.

Other Jerseys

Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quickstep) has extended his lead in the green jersey as well. He won two more stages, and has equalled Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins. He will look to take the record for his own on Stages 19 and 21, with the chance for another win on the Champs Elysees on the final stage.

Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) remains his closest rival, but will require a special final week if he is to win the green jersey competition for a second time.

Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious)has been engaged in a battle with Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) for the mountains classification. The three have animated the race as they have tried to be in every mountain breakaway to maximise their points.

The big shock in the King of the Mountains classification is Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who is currently tied for third. Previously thought of as a sprinter and a one-day specialist, Van Aert shocked many winning the Mont Ventoux stage, and showing he can climb with anyone.

It would be brave to count Van Aert out, but its likely that Quintana will win the final king of the Mountains jersey, after previously showing an ability to climb away from everyone in the world in other years.

Pogačar continues to have a mortgage on the white jersey for the young riders competition, but he continues to loan it out to Jonas Vingegaard as he wears yellow.

Aussie (mis)Adventures

It’s been a week to forget for the Australians at the Tour de France. Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citreon)was sitting in second at the first rest day. After losing time on Stage 10, he finds himself in fifth, but still in touching distance of the podium, if he has a strong last week.

Richie Porte (INEOS Grenadiers) has lost further time, as he has turned into a support rider for his leader Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers), who sits 25 seconds ahead of O’Connor.

Matthews remains Cavendish’s closest rival in the green jersey competition, but is unlikely to be able to reel the Englishman in at this point.

Stage 11 spelled the end of the Tour de France for Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ), as he was forced to abandon the race after a crash, and Lucas Hamilton (Team BikeExchange) befell the same fate on Stage 13. Hamilton suffered a shoulder injury in a mass crash just hours after being named to the Australian Olympic team as a replacement rider.

Harry Sweeny (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-NextHash) and Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) are all still in the race, but have failed to really make an impact, as their teams have struggled as well.  

The Winners of the Second Week

Pogačar. He has further extended his lead, and looks like he will be out of reach for all the other riders.

Wout Van Aert. The Belgian classics specialists surprised everyone by riding away from his breakaway companions on the stage that summited Mont Ventoux twice. It was an incredible feat for a non-climber, and shows that there isn’t much that Van Aert can’t do.

Mark Cavendish. Two more stage wins, equal for the record of most Tour de France stage wins of all time, and he made the time cut every day, including a couple of days where it was by a matter of a minute or two.

The Losers of the Second Week

The Australian Olympic Team. While Jack Haig abandoned the race before the first rest day, it was only today that it was confirmed that he would be withdrawn from the Olympic team as a result of his broken collarbone suffered in the race.

Cameron Meyer withdrew from the team for family reasons, and was to be replaced by Lucas Hamilton, who promptly crashed and suffered a shoulder injury that may end up keeping him out of the Olympics as well.

The women’s Australian Olympic Team has also not fared well during the recent Giro Donne, with Grace Brown and Amanda Spratt both suffering crashes.

Anyone with hopes of winning the Tour. As Tadej Pogačar has ridden each day, his confidence has become clearer and clearer that he knows that he is the strongest rider in the race. He has chased down all attacks, with little difficulty, and even taken further time in different places.

Other Sprinters. Mark Cavendish has won four of the five bunch sprints in the Tour de France this year so far. He holds a significant lead in the green jersey. In essence, he has outshone all other sprinters, and it has been a tour to forget for most others.

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What to watch in Week Three

Stage 17 (Muret to Saint-Lary-Soulan – 178km). Stage 17 will likely include a battle royal for the King of the Moutnains jersey, with double points awarded at the summit finish. Three massive climbs in the last 60km gives a chance for a hyper-aggressive move if somebody wants to steal the Tour de France from Pogačar.

Stage 18 (Pau to Luz Ardiden – 130km). Stage 18 is a shorter mountain stage, with two of the most famous climbs of the Tour de France, the Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden.

The Col du Tourmalet has been climbed 87 times by the Tour de France, and some of the most famous moments in Tour history have been written on it. Luz Ardiden was a summit finish in 2011, and was considered one of the days that Cadel Evans saved his chance for Tour de France victory.

Stage 21 (Chatou to Paris Champs-Elysees – 108km). Stage 21 is largely a parade, where riders have a sip of champagne and pose for photos. The final part of the stage is a 7 lap race around the famous Champs-Elysees, with the final sprint finish an iconic moment in the race.

The Other Tours

Lachlan Morton was not selected for the Tour de France in 2021. As a result, he is returning to the original roots of the race and is riding every kilometre of the race. He’s also riding every kilometre between the stages, stopping in cafes for food and sleeping under the stars.

Morton is carrying all his bags with him and is raising money for World Bicycle Relief. On 13 July, Morton arrived in Paris about 5:30am, five days ahead of the peloton.

You can find out more about his effort and support his fundraising here.

Jack Ultra Cyclist is also riding the Tour de France, separate from the race. He is aiming to ride the entire race in 10 days, starting on the first rest day. He will aim to ride the full 3,500km and 62,000m of climbing and catch the peloton before Paris.

Jack is essentially riding two stages a day and is riding in support of mental health awareness. Jack is ahead of the peloton at the second rest day, and is expected to arrive in Paris on Thursday, three days before the peloton.

You can find out more about his effort and track his progress here.

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