2013 Tour de France–Stage 6

4 Jul

2013 4I’ve grown tired of the first week of the Tour. For me the first week of the Tour is often something to get through so we can get to the good part:  enduring the sprint stages to get to the stages of the Pyrenees and Alps, where the Tour will be won – or lost.

Sort of like getting through a dinner of meatloaf when all you really want is to get to the dessert of chocolate cake.

Initially I’m just happy for the Tour to begin so those first few sprint stages are exciting, but after a while (stage 6) they become boring. As horrible as it sounds (is), sometimes the only thing that livens up the stages of the first week are the crashes. Otherwise you watch a few hours of tempo riding for the last few seconds of excitement.

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen don’t help. I’ve heard every liggettism and sherwenism there is and most if not all of their anecdotes. I find them boring or irritating most of the time. I watched Stage 1 online with Eurosport and enjoyed their coverage and commentating, but Steephill.tv cut many of their feeds afterwards. I just checked again and see they have added more, so I’ll give them a try tomorrow for Stage 7.

There was something newsworthy about Stage 6 – no breakaway. One rider jumped away at the start, but with no help the peloton easily brought him back to the fold.

Besides crashes there’s one other thing that can liven up a flat stage: crosswinds. Stage 6 had them, but the peloton was so tightly packed the crosswinds had no impact. The peloton were also motoring at a high rate of speed. Orica-GreenEdge did the majority of the work at the front, while the favorites fought to stay in front because of potential splits from crosswinds and/or crashes.

The stage did come down to a sprint among the strongest sprinters. Andre Greipel (Lotto) got the best leadout and consequently took the win finishing ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), who is still winless, and yesterday’s winner Mark Cavendish. Cavendish crashes going around a roundabout about 30k from the finish and didn’t have enough punch left to beat Greipel. When that became evident, in typical Cavendish fashion, he sat up finishing 4th behind Sagan and Marcel Kittel.

Geipel’s win was especially sweet for his team as they lost their GC contender Jurgen van den Broeck due to injuries sustained in a crash yesterday. In other good news, the first yellow jersey ever for a South African rider was captured by Orica’s Daryl Impey. Nice OricaGreenEdge was able to share the yellow jersey among teammates.

Maxine Bouet, also abandoned the Tour today due to injuries suffered yesterday. Bouet was on my Fantasy Cycling Challenge team so that leaves me with one less rider. Hopefully my team will not be decimated by injuries like it was last year. Serious business this fantasy team stuff.

Stage 7 is another lumpy stage with a fairly big lump, a category 2 climb as well as a couple of category 3s and a category 4. It still looks like a stage that will end in a bunch sprint since the last 12k are downhill to the finish. Sagan has to be eyeing this stage for his first stage win of this Tour. This time last year he had already won 3.

Stage 7 Profile:

Stage profile

The real fun begins Saturday when the Tour goes into the Pyrenees with an HC category and a category 1 summit finish:

Stage 8 Profile:

Stage profile

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