Now that poor Egan Bernal has dropped out of the Tour de France, Team Ineos’s squad of super-domestiques are free to chase stage wins for the first time in, well, basically the entire existence of the Team Sky-Ineos project. After a second-place finish on Stage 16, both Richard Carapaz and Michal Kwiatkowski coasted in to the finish line together after shearing everyone else who joined the day’s breakaway. It was a delightful little moment in a team going through a hard Tour, as the Ecuadorian and the Pole spent the last kilometer celebrating together crossed the line together, arm-in-arm.
Kwiatkowski technically “won” the stage—his first Tour stage win of a decorated career—and it wasn’t a contentious matter between the two men. Carapaz moved into a narrow lead in the king of the mountains competition with his big day in the breakaway, and he said afterwards that it made sense for the team to give Kwiatkowski the stage. Carapaz only has two points over Tadaj Pogacar, and there are just two categorized climbs and a mountain time trial left to snag points. Ineos will need to work to put him in breakaways on two stages, so incentivizing Kwiatkowski to do so makes sense.
However, they shouldn’t have had to choose in the first place. Let the pals both share the stage win! The Tour already awards stage wins to multiple members on the same stage during team time trials. Two guys crossing the line simultaneously on a road stage is technically different, but not substantively; winning the race took pooled efforts. Even if Carapaz knows in his heart that he did what it took to win the stage, and even if he’s the younger rider with a Grand Tour win already under his belt, Tour de France stage wins are never easy to come by. He might never have this good of an opportunity, especially if he stays with Ineos for a while.