Today was one continuous wait. This morning, the weather conditions prompted the riders to ask for a shortening of the stage, which they obtained, which meant we had to wait until 3pm to actually get underway. Then, after a rather explosive start on the Croix de Coeur, we waited impatiently for the ascent of Crans-Montana to see how things would work out between the breakaway men who had rode clear in the first few kilometres – namely, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Einer Rubio (Movistar), Valentin Paret-Peintre (AG2R Citroën), Derek Gee (Israel-Premier Tech) and Jefferson Cepeda (EF Education-EasyPost) – and among the big GC names, from whom some action was finally expected.
Up front, despite the impatience and the attacks of a rather nervous Pinot, it all came down to the last thrilling and unpredictable metres, absolutely worth the wait. On the contrary, back in the peloton the wait was in vain, as Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) decided that leaving the Maglia Rosa on the shoulders of Geraint Thomas for a few more days might turn out to be a smart move on the long-run, with Ineos-Grenadiers having to bear the hard work and the mental pressure of being race leaders.
In short, today was a stalemate, a deadlock, a stand-off: the calm before a storm that only partially exploded. Pinot, Cepeda and Rubio did not disappoint, with latter constantly managing to close in on his rivals, who both seemed to have more fuel left. Pinot attacked at least five times on the climb, but always met with a swift response from Cepeda and a steady but reliable one from the Colombian from Movistar.