2013 TDF Stage 16

16 Jul

Every stage is competitive in this year’s Tour. Not for the yellow jersey, but for all the other places in the top 10. Lucky for us, those spots are tight. Only seconds separate the 2nd – 5th placed riders and each one is looking to make up time or keep time.

Today’s stage had the expected large break get away and stay away. It took a while for a break to form, but once there were no riders that could threaten the top 10 the group was allowed to go. There were 26 riders in the break including several Frenchmen hoping to pick up France’s first stage win in the 100th Tour de France. It is their event after all, but alas, “pas aujourd’hui, désolé”. Oui.

The animators for Stage 16 were all expected to come from the break. Tomorrow’s stage is a hilly individual time-trial so it appeared the favorites/hopefuls would take it easy. Non.

Sky certainly had no desire to bring the break back or do anything other than stay at the front and protect their stronghold on the yellow jersey. And that’s pretty much the way things went until the last climb, the Category 2 Col de Manse. The riders in the break started attacking each other. First a couple of the French riders attacked and got away, Kadri (Ag2r) and Marino (Sojasun). Hansen (Lotto), Navarro (Cofidis) Costa (Movistar) and Roche (Saxo) quickly joined them, while others gave chase. Costa managed to get away, riding alone to the summit of Manse and then descending into Gap to take the stage win. The chase group finished :42 behind him.

Costa had been in 9th place in the GC prior to Stage 13 (crosswinds), but had to drop back from the main group to help Movistar team leader Valverde causing him to slip to 18th. Valverde fell from 2nd to 16th, only teammate Quintana has maintained his high spot overall. Point being that Movistar really wanted and needed this win and that was evident when Costa crossed the finish line. (photo from dailymail.uk.com)

Meanwhile back in the favorites group, Katusha attacked, upping the pace resulting in a split in the group; obviously for the benefit of their leader, Rodriguez. The move caused several favorites to drop off, including 5th placed Ten Dam (Belkin) and 7th placed Fuglsang (Astana).

Now the yellow jersey group was down to 8: Froome and Porte (Sky), Contador and Kreuziger (Saxo),  Valverde and Quintana (Movistar), Mollema (Belkin) and Rodriguez.

Contador launched 3 attacks on the ascent, momentarily dropping Porte, but Porte was able to get back. Contador attacked on the descent, once resulting in him overshooting a corner and going down, and Froome having to unclip along the road’s edge to avoid him. Both were able to remount and ride on, although Froome looked a bit peeved. I’m sure Contador couldn’t have cared less. The rest of us, at least those non-Brit fans, were happy to see Contador ride aggressively and Froome bothered.

There were changes in the GC top 10 after Stage 16: Quintana and Ten Dam swapped places – 5th and 6th respectively, as did Rodrigues and Fuglsang – 7th and 8th, and Daniel Martin moved up one spot to 10th. No changes in the top 4 spots or time gaps.

Not a bad day on the road.


Stage 17:

Stage profile

 

Could this time-trial shakeup the top of the GC? Possibly. Unlike the first individual time-trial this one is hilly, with technical descents and rain predicted. Time-trials are boring, but this one… maybe not.

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