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2013 TDF Stage 19 – Stalemate

19 Jul

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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!

2013 TDF Stage 18-Let Froome Bonk

18 Jul

“I ‘m winning the Tour and you can’t prove sh*t”

(photo from velonews, my caption 😉




My time to blog about the Tour, even watch the Tour is about to get limited but I’ll write a short one while I can.

As you know, I’m no fan of Froome’s, but my dislike for him grows it seems with each passing stage.


Today (again) he took food within the last 6 km where it isn’t allowed. He called for his teammate Porte to get him gel from the team car. Porte did, wihile the race referees shouted at him. Froome was in danger of bonking, admitting after the stage he was out of sugar. The effect of that if he had not received the gel could have resulted in a bonk and possibly time loss. It has before (Landis in 2006 comes to mind), but instead Froome/Porte/Sky made their own rules and did what they felt they had to do. Their penalty? A 20 second time loss for Froome and Porte.

Froome, being the whiner he is whined, “If you look at it technically, Richie actually took the feed from the car, not me. Maybe that’s something that should be taken into consideration”. Ugh.

What a stand-up guy. Sky breaks the rules when they need to, yet we’re not supposed to believe despite Froome’s off-the-charts performances day after day (after day) that Froome uses performance enhancing drugs.

Right…

Enough about him.

NBC showed the entirety of the stage so we got to see early attacks and the break form. One more thing about Froome, it says a lot about the guy that when Contador’s support riders attacked early on, Froome chased them down isolating himself! Everything came back together, but still, a bone-headed move by Froome. It seems he can’t stand when his rivals attack – regardless of the size of his lead. Not a smart racing strategy.

Tejay Van Garderen rode a perfect race; the only problem was his bike didn’t. On the descent of the Col de Sarenne Van Garderen hit a bump which caused his gearing to lock up, or so it appeared. He had to get a bike change, which he had to wait on, but even so he managed to catch back up to his two other break-mates, Riblon and Moser before ascending Alp d’huez again. Van Garderen dropped them on the climb, but as he got closer and closer to the finish he got slower and slower.

He was so close to finishing it off and getting a much deserved victory – and maybe he would have if a teammate had got him a gel or two – but it wasn’t to be.

Instead Riblon got the French their first victory of the 100th Tour de France.

The top 5 finishers for Stage 18:

  • 1. Christophe RIBLON, Ag2r La Mondiale, in 4:51:32
  • 2. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at :59
  • 3. Moreno MOSER, Cannondale, at 1:27
  • 4. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, Movistar, at 2:12
  • 5. Joaquin RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

The top 10 places in the general classification now:

    • 1. Christopher FROOME, Sky, in 71:02:19
    • 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. Michael ROGERS, Saxo-Tinkoff, at 14:26
    • 9. Michal KWIATKOWSKI, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at 14:38
    • 10. Laurens TEN DAM, Belkin, at 14:39

Stage 19:

Tomorrow’s stage profile looks like a beast. We certainly could see more movement in the top 10-20 places in the GC.

Stage profile

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:

 

Stage profile

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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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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