He first sat down, put both hands on his helmet and let out a few tears, hidden under his helmet and glasses. This emotion, the one that Simon Geschke felt on the heights of Hautacam, is that of a man who has gone to the end of himself. A rider who has been fighting for 9 days, body and soul, to keep one of the most emblematic jerseys of the Tour de France, the polka dot jersey.
After having fought a hard battle the day before, the Cofidis riders have worked hard again this Thursday, despite the difficulty. The infernal rhythm of the beginning of the race, at nearly 50 km/h, didn't help. Before starting the Aubisque pass, Simon had to be placed in the best possible position.
9 consecutive stages at the top of the points classification
But the mission was a delicate one, despite the selflessness and the relaunching of Benjamin Thomas, Anthony Perez, Ion Izagirre and Pierre-Luc Périchon. The latter three accompanied him for a long time in the foothills of the col d'Aubisque, battling to catch up with the leading group. The rhythm was too intense, the repetition of the efforts too and Simon finally gave up.
Despite the difficulty of this exhausting day where the leaders had to explain themselves once more, the Cofidis team can be proud of what they have done. Indeed, the northern team kept the distinctive jersey for 9 stages. Simon is now the German rider who has worn the polka dot jersey the most in the history of the Tour de France. He is now second in this classification behind Jonas Vingegaard, but he should keep this jersey symbolically until the Champs-Élysées on Sunday.
"The beginning of the stage was particularly stressful. I spent a lot of energy trying to get to the right breakaway. The team did an incredible job again, we came very close to the breakaway on the approach of the Aubisque without succeeding. I knew that I had to score points on the Aubisque. From the moment I didn't manage it, I knew that it was going to be impossible to keep the jersey. I am now 2nd in the mountain classification and that is not bad. The polka dot jersey is for the best climber in the Tour de France and I know that the one who deserves it most is wearing it now."
Bingen Fernandez, sport director:
"The accumulation of effort was fatal but we gave everything we had collectively. We knew that without scoring points in the Aubisque, we risked losing the jersey. Faced with such strong opposition and seeing that the polka dot jersey was won by Jonas Vingegaard, we can't have any regrets. It is still very honourable to be second behind the yellow jersey in this best climber classification."