2013 TDF Stage 19 – Stalemate

19 Jul

Stage 19 was another hard day in the Alps for what has to be a very tired peloton. The last week of the 100th Tour de France is more reminiscent of the third week of a Giro d’italia with all of the tough mountain stages we’ve seen.

And we aren’t done with the Alps yet. Stage 20, the last stage of the Tour before finishing in Paris on Sunday, will be another tough day ending with a summit finish on the HC (so difficult we don’t even classify it except to say – beyond category – or Hors catégorie) Annecy-Semnoz.

Today’s stage started with a couple of HC climbs, then a couple of Category 1 climbs ending with a rainy descent into the beautiful town of Le Grand-Bornand. The entire route was beautiful, starting in Bourg-d’Oisans. I made note because next fall we’re going to France.

A huge break of about 44 riders got away on the first HC climb. Rui Costa (Movistar) the winner of today’s stage was in the break, waiting until the time was right to attack and ride solo to the win – the same strategy he used when he won on Stage 16.

I had hoped (but doubted) that Ryder Hesjedal who attacked the break early might win, but really felt like Pierre Rolland (Europcar) had an excellent chance to win when he attacked the group and joined Hesjedal on the climb of the Col de la Madeleine.

The two worked well together until Hesjedal ran out of gas leaving Rolland to continue alone. Rolland maintained a lead of just over a minute on the chase groups until the very last climb of the day when the rain started and Costa who had attacked earlier caught and dropped him.

Besides trying to win the stage Rolland was after points for the climber’s polka dot jersey. He managed to get within one point of Froome, maybe if Rolland has any legs left he can pick up enough points tomorrow to secure that jersey.

Disappointingly Saxo-Tinkoff had to do the majority of the pace making today for the main group allowing Froome and his Sky boys to rest. Saxo and Contador rode a defensive race just trying to protect his 2nd place in the GC and Kreuziger’s 4th place. Movistar’s Quintana is breathing down Contador’s neck with just 21 seconds separating them. In what must have been a move to make sure Quintana couldn’t attack Saxo-Tinkoff upped the pace on the last climb.

The pace wasn’t enough to deter Rodriguez (Katusha) because he attacked on the climb, followed quickly by Quintana and Contador with Froome following – his lackey, Porte did not.

The move basically ended in a stalemate, all ended up finishing with the same time of 8:40. Valverde (Movistar) used it to eek out enough time to move him up into the top 10 overall. There was no change in the top 7 places in GC, but Navarro (Cofidis) took the 8th spot from Rodgers (Saxo-Tinkoff), and Valverde in 9th. Saxo-Tinkoff was able to maintain their lead in the team competition.

    • 1. Christopher FROOME, Sky, in 77:10:00
    • 2. Alberto CONTADOR VELASCO, Saxo-Tinkoff, at 5:11
    • 3. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, Movistar, at 5:32
    • 4. Roman KREUZIGER, Saxo-Tinkoff, at 5:44
    • 5. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Katusha, at 5:58
    • 6. Bauke MOLLEMA, Belkin, at 8:58
    • 7. Jakob FUGLSANG, Astana, at 9:33
    • 8. Daniel NAVARRO GARCIA, Cofidis, at 12:33
    • 9. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, Movistar, at 14:56
    • 10. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 16:08

Stage 20:

 

Stage profile

We can expect aggressive racing tomorrow among the top placed riders as they try to move up – or hang on. We’ll also see all-out racing from those looking for a stage win and those looking to grab the Polka dot jersey from Froome. Tomorrow is it, no other chances except for the sprinters on Sunday. Should be exciting!

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