After two transition stages in Occitanie, the riders of Tour de France headed for the Pyrenees in stage 14. Five climbs were listed over the 184 kilometers between Carcassonne and Quillan, but the finish was judged at the bottom of a 17 kilometer descent after the ultimate difficulty, the Col de Saint-Louis (4.6 km at 6.8%).
Although the tramontana did not blow during the race like yesterday, the heat raised the mercury to 30 degrees this Saturday. For more than two hours, the fight for the breakaway raged on. No attempt managed to make a difference, as the peloton had passed the Col du Bac (3.2 km at 5.4%) and the intermediate sprint of Lavelanet in the first 80 km.
After attempts by Georg Zimmermann, Lorenzo Rota and Jan Bakelants, it was the South African Louis Meintjes who attacked in the steep Col de Montségur (4.3 km at 8.1%), classified second category, just under 100 kilometers from the finish. Followed by several riders in his initiative, he made the junction on Poels (Bahrain), Cattaneo (Deceuninck) and Woods (Israel), who escaped before him, in the Col de la Croix des Morts (6.8 Km at 5.8%). Approaching the penultimate difficulty, the Côte de Galinagues (2.2 km at 8%), the definite breakaway of 14 riders had created a gap of 4 minutes.
Everything seemed to indicate that the leading group featuring Meintjes, sixteenth in GC, would compete for the stage victory. Before heading towards the last difficulty, the Col de Saint-Louis, Mollema (Trek) left the breakaway in the 20 kilometers of valley. He arrived with just over a minute at the foot of the climb, and despite the efforts of the pursuers, he made it to the finish alone in Quillan. Louis Meintjes finished 9th of the stage, more than 5 minutes ahead of the peloton, which allows him to move up to 14th place in the general classification.