2013 TDF Stage 17–Froome Again

17 Jul

Sky’s Froome managed to pad his lead by 20 seconds and get his third stage win today when he narrowly beat Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) by 9 seconds in the individual time-trial. Contador had a slight edge on the first part of the 32 km hilly and technical course – complicated further by rain, but Froome made that up and then some in the latter part of the course. Froome, unlike Contador, elected to change bikes after the 2nd climb to a TT bike with bigger gearing. He was able to descend faster as a result. Contador chose to go with a traditional road bike, with full disc wheel in back and clip-on aero bars for the entire course.

There were numerous impressive performances today, probably the most impressive was Frenchman Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r). Peraud crashed during a practice run on the course and suffered a broken clavicle. He elected to start the stage and managed to get through the tough ascents and all but 2 km of the course. At that point he crashed again, falling hard on the same shoulder.  His parents and wife were watching him on that section of the course – how horrible for them. Peraud made a yeoman’s effort to compete and almost complete a difficult time-trial course.

That corner was tricky for other riders too, Belkin rider Bauke Mollema crashed into the barrier there, but managed to stay upright. He unfortunately fell from 2nd place overall to 4th place.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rode an incredible time-trial finishing just :30 back off the winning time. He stayed with the same bike during the entire course too. His teammate Nairo Quintana not only rode a great TT finishing in 6th place, but he had the fastest bike change of anyone. He’s impressive and a future contender in the Tour and other grand tours.

I had hoped if the rain held, so might Tejay Van Garderen’s leading time, but no such luck. The rain stopped and the roads dried allowing the riders to race aggressively beating his time. Van Garderen finished in the 10th spot – a good ride for a guy that has had a difficult Tour.

Another impressive ride was by none other than Andy Schleck. Schleck shocked everyone, finishing 15th for the stage and moving up in the overall GC to 16th. Good for him, he’s caught a lot of flack this year so it was nice to see him do well. Maybe he’ll try for something before Paris.

Speaking of the general classification, Contador moved up to 2nd (4:34 behind Froome), teammate Kreuziger moved up to 3rd,  Joaquin Rodríguez (Katusha) moved up to 6th with the 3rd best time in the TT.

The rain certainly was a factor in today’s stage and could be a big factor tomorrow if it rains as predicted on what many are calling the Queen Stage (most difficult) when the peloton climbs the most infamous Alp, Alp d’huez. It’s the descent off the Category 2 Col de Sarenne that has many worried, particularly Froome. He has asked in the event of rain that the stage end with just a single ascent of Alp d’huez.

Froome is being viewed as a bit of a crybaby after sending the following tweet to Contador yesterday:

 

chrisfroome Chris FroomeAlmost went over your head @albertocontador.. Little more care next time? About one day ago via Twitter for iPhone  Favorite  Retweet Reply

 

Pretty stupid of Froome, if he felt Contador was racing too fast, he should have slowed down and not followed Contador’s wheel. It’s called racing, Froome.

One Tour official was quoted as saying regardless of the rain tomorrow the stage will go as planned.

Should be an exciting one, and hopefully a safe one.

By the way, the last Tour de France “champion” to take as many stage wins as Froome was none other than doper, Lance Armstrong.


Stage 18:

 

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