2013 TDF Stage 14-Break

13 Jul

trentin-wins-660x440Don’t know about you, but I was okay with a normal day in the Tour. Yesterday’s blog post was lengthy and took more time to write than I wanted to do today. While the Tour was running live, we were recording and out riding.

Rain is predicted here for the next few days so we wanted to get a ride in while we can. Two things we never get in July are rain and mild temperatures. If by some off chance the weather-tellers are right, we’ll have both for a few days. Nice.

Stage 14 was lumpy, with several Category 4 climbs. A break of 4 riders got away early and then a group of 14 broke from the peloton to join them. Several notables were in the break; Van Garderen, Voigt, Bakelants, Talansky, Millar, Rojas – a break of 18 riders. The highest placed rider in the break was Talansky who was 13+ minutes down from the yellow jersey.

Initially, the teams that didn’t get a guy in the break – Euskaltel and Lampre – went to the front and chased. Eventually they gave up and Sky had to go to the front. Sky wasn’t interested in catching the break, and sent that message to the rest of the peloton by spreading across the road to slow the pace. Most of the other teams had riders in the break and weren’t interested in chasing either. Two more riders went off the front, Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Cunego (Lampre), but they were never able to catch the break.

Tour leader Chris Froome looked a little tired or tense or maybe tense and tired. After yesterday you can’t blame him. Froome had his team around him doing the work in a relatively easy pace conserving energy for the showdown on Ventoux tomorrow. No doubt Contador and team were doing the same as were the Belkin boys.

As the break got near the finishing city of Lyon, the cat and mouse games began. A flurry of attacks came by Burghardt, Van Garderen, Bakelants, Frenchmen Simon (who looked like he just might hang on for the win, he soloed out in front for several k) and Kadri, Albasini and Bak. Everyone but Millar and Voigt gave it a go, and they would have too but they were dropped when the attacks started.

It looked like the French would get their first win of the 100th Tour de France on the eve of Bastille Day, but they fell short. Even worse for the French, an Italian won – Omega QuickStep’s Matteo Trentin. Trentin came from nowhere going full gas and pipped Albasini, Talansky and Rojas at the line to narrowly take the win.


The last week in the Tour looks exciting. Although Froome is most likely strong, his team has been weakened. It’s hard to know if they’ve been sitting back and plan to attack tomorrow on Mont Ventoux like they did on Stage 8 or if they’ll ride more defensively and try to preserve their grip on yellow – my hunch is they will do the latter.

Froome still has a strong grip on the yellow jersey; 2:28 to Belkin’s Mollema, and just 2:45 to the cunning Contador. However, given the apparent vulnerability of Sky it is a lead that seems at least penetrable.

One thing that has been a surprise to me at least is the vulnerability of the team charged with protecting the yellow jersey. Froome doesn’t have near the team that Bradley Wiggins had last year when he wore yellow. Wiggins isn’t here to help Froome either, neither are strongmen Rigoberto Uran or  Sergio Henao who were both left off the Tour squad after competing in the Giro. Two of the riders expected to support Froome in the Alps were Edvald Boasson Hagen and  Vasil Kiryienka, both of whom are out of the Tour. There’s no doubt Froome is more exposed to attacks with the loss of those two; particularly by Saxo-Tinkoff and Contador.

If I were Froome and Sky I’d be more worried about Contador and his teammate Kreuziger then the Belkin duo.

Froome is solid physically, I don’t doubt that, but his team is not. I also get the sense Froome is worried and not nearly as confident as he was when he strutted up the final climb of Stage 8 to take the win.

The first sentence in my Understanding the Tour de France Guide is:  “Remember this simple fact – bike racing is a TEAM sport – not an individual sport”. We may all get another lesson in the importance of a strong team as we head to the Alps.



Stage 15:

PROFIL

Tomorrow’s stage on Mont Ventoux, a long stage at 242 kilometers – the longest of this year’s Tour, should give us a glimpse of any weakness in Sky’s armor or that of any of the other GC contenders. 

Or, it may not be that subtle. We could see the race blow apart like we did yesterday.

We should be so lucky!

 

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