2012 Tour de France-Stage 13

14 Jul

Today offered up one of those tricky little stages that Tour organizers must love to draw up:  pancake flat so seemingly a stage for the sprinters. Not so fast though… there was a small little (1.6k in length) pimple of a climb (to quote Paul Sherwen) about 15k from the finish, plus there are always those nasty crosswinds along the coast to contend with. Remember the 2009 Tour when Lance Armstrong gained time on teammate/nemesis Alberto Contador due to splits in the peloton from the crosswind?

This was just the kind of stage that under the right (or wrong) conditions there could have been guys high placed in the GC caught out from the peloton and maybe just tighten the race for the yellow and 2nd and 3rd place on the final podium in Paris. If not that, at least make for an exciting stage.

Defending Tour champion Cadel Evans, currently in 4th place 3:12 behind Tour leader Bradley Wiggins, did what probably many thought he would do – he attacked on that nasty little climb. Jurgen Vanden Broeck, 5th place overall, attacked too but the yellow jersey with that steady but deadly cadence pulled them all back.

It is starting to seem impossible to put Wiggins or Froome into trouble.

Not only did Wiggins take care of Evans and Vanden Broeck, but he also led out one of his worker bees, Boasson Hagen for the sprint finish. Wiggins may have decided he was safer doing that than being in the pack, but whatever the motivation it was a nice effort on his part to to try and help one of his dedicated teammates get a win.

stage 13It was actually a very good lead out by Wiggins but just a little early for Boasson Hagen to have a chance with Lotto drilling it at the front for their sprinter, Greipel. Sagan, my predicted stage winner, sat on Greipel’s wheel ready to pounce when Greipel started his sprint. Sagan pounced but Greipel threw his bike and narrowly edged Sagan out for the stage win.Cavendish and Goss were caught out and weren’t there to contest the sprint. It was a great sprint and win for Greipel, his third. Sagan took 2nd and Boasson Hagen third.

In one way it was good to see Evans try and get time on Wiggins and Froome, but in another way it wasn’t. Tomorrow they head to the almost-Pyrenees and while Stage 14 isn’t one of the tougher stages there are two category 1 climbs. Evans might have been better off saving that effort for tomorrow. Last year his timing and strategy was near perfect, this year he can’t get a break. Obviously that has something to do with the impenetrable Wiggins and Sky.

What has stood out for me the most in this Tour is the dominance of Sky. Not just of Wiggins (and Froome) but of the team. Unless something bizarre happens this team is going to continue their march into Paris and the top two spots on the podium.

Stage results

  • 1. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, in 4:57:59
  • 2. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0
  • 3. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, Sky, at 0
  • 4. Sébastien HINAULT, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 5. Daryl IMPEY, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 6. Julien SIMON, Saur-Sojasun, at 0
  • 7. Marco MARCATO, Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0
  • 8. Philippe GILBERT, BMC Racing, at 0
  • 9. Peter VELITS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 0
  • 10. Danilo HONDO, Lampre-ISD, at 0

 

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 59:32:32
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:23
  • 4. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 3:19
  • 5. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 4:48
  • 6. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 6:15
  • 7. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 6:57
  • 8. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 7:30
  • 9. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 8:31
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 8:51

Stage 14 Preview:

stage 14 profile

Not particularly long or difficult, Stage 14 looks like something for an all-arounder like Sylvan Chavanel, or god help me, Thomas Voeckler.

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