Buchmann with “really great weekend” – podium within reach

Buchmann with 'really great weekend' - podium within reach

Emanuel buchmann was late. During his furious climbing show in the pyrenees, geraint thomas and co. Unstoppable, only the doping control at the finish line put him behind schedule.

"It was a really cool weekend. We are in a great starting position. I am positively surprised by myself," said buchmann, who made cycling germany dream of the very big throw at the biggest and most important cycling race in the world with two fourth places at the tourmalet and in foix prat d’albis.

"It went very well again. I’m very satisfied with the result," added the exhausted and soaked buchmann after his latest mountain gala. Only after the doping test was the 26-year-old from ravensburg allowed to ride down the mountain again and to his team bus in the valley of foix.

Among the world’s best climbers, a german is suddenly paying his dues again – the first overall podium since andreas kloden in 2006 seems more than realistic. "The top 10 is still the goal. It would be nice if there were more," said the modest buchmann, who is currently still in sixth place overall, but has already put a decent cushion between himself and the chasers starting in seventh place. "I saved my energy in the first stages, i never wasted anything, i’m in great shape, and it’s going really well," said the german, explaining his successes.

After the difficult pyrenees sections, the yellow jersey still belongs to france’s darling of the public, julian alaphilippe, who is now among the absolute elite in the high mountains – but who lost almost a minute on buchmann and other top riders on sunday. Defending champion thomas bubte again time, but remains second for the time being. Third place goes to dutchman steven kruijswijk. The gaps between second and sixth place, however, are only a matter of seconds. Alaphilippe is 2:14 minutes ahead of buchmann.

His colleagues at the bora-hansgrohe racing team in upper bavaria even believe he can pull off a major coup. "He has proven what level he is at. With him you can definitely win the tour. I think he’s the next big german star," praised his colleague gregor muhlberger. Marcus burghardt said: "if he can keep this up, he can be on the podium or in the top five."

On sunday, the favorites on the 15. In the second stage, a group was left behind, which included several strong climbers as well as germany’s simon geschke. The 33-year-old skied with day-winner simon yates of great britain all the way to the final climb, but was then hung out to dry. The range two and three occupied in the fog and rain of tourmalet winner thibaut pinot (france) and mikel landa (spain).

"As a wearer of the yellow jersey you also have a responsibility, i have defended it for many days and i paid for it today. The alps are going to be a rough challenge for me," said alaphilippe, who had to brush himself off at a grille after the stage and the rainy final climb, completely exhausted.

On saturday, buchmann had ridden up the 2115-meter tourmalet with the world’s elite without a moment’s pause, and with about a kilometer to go, had set an attack of his own. "It was a very good feeling," buchmann said of his fabulous ride through the pyrenees. On sunday he was again as strong, this time even stronger than alaphilippe and thomas.

In contrast to sky’s dominance in previous years, successor ineos looks vulnerable in 2019 without the injured four-time tour winner chris froome. The british titleholder thomas lieb is caught by a buchmann-attack at the tourmalet, also super-talent bernal doesn’t show the dominance expected from him in the high mountains so far. At the team bus of the long-time winners ineos, the atmosphere afterwards was downright spooky.

Besides buchmann, ineos has to fear more and more the french duo alaphilippe and pinot. In front of the eyes of president emmanuel macron, the host tandem flew to a double success on saturday. In case of the first french tour victory since 1985, macron already promised champagne on the champs elysees. This is not improbable, after all, both are promising in the overall standings.