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TDF Stage 7-Teamwork

5 Jul


2013 6

When I bemoaned the opening week of sprint stages yesterday I didn’t expect someone would do something to make this last one exciting. Someone did. Actually a team of somebodies: the team of Peter Sagan, Cannondale.

There was no bluff to Cannondale’s plan for Stage 7 – get Sagan the win. How? By dropping all of his competitors before the finish.

They executed their plan to perfection.

Cannondale, with some help from Orica-GreenEdge the team of the yellow jersey holder Daryl Impey, set a blistering pace at the front. If the peloton thought they were going to be able to take it kind of easy before tomorrow’s tough stage in the Pyrenees, they were sorely mistaken – pun intended.

The first break of the day was old man Jens Voigt (Radio Shack) and Blel Kadri (AG2R) getting out in front, with Kadri picking up KOM points on the first two climbs and Kadri’s teammate outsprinting Pierre Rolland who had held the KOM jersey ensuring Kadri would capture the polka-dot jersey which he did.

Meanwhile OGE could sit behind Cannondale and let them do the work – good for them. No need to work when another team has an agenda. They managed to split the peloton dropping all the other main sprinters on the category 2 climb and continued to drill the pace until the intermediate sprint. I have to believe that was Cannondale’s plan – to get Sagan points to increase his hold on the green jersey – but when they saw they had dropped the likes of Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel, they decided why not go for the stage win.

So basically Cannondale gave Sagan a 190k lead-out. Their work at the front was nothing short of phenomenal.

Later in the stage Cannondale/OGE had to chase down a more threatening break with previous yellow jersey wearer Jan Bakelandts. Since Bakelandts was within striking distance of taking back the yellow jersey OGE shared in the work of chasing them down, although Cannondale still did the majority of the work. They caught them 3k from the finish and the race for the stage win was on.

Somehow Sagan and his teammates had enough left to take care of business. Sagan had to start his sprint from a long way out and in a less than optimum position. It didn’t matter. Argos-Shimano’s sprinter Degenkolb nearly caused him to go into the wall getting ahead of Sagan, but Sagan rocketed past him to take his much deserved first stage win of the 2013 Tour de France.

No choreographed victory salute for Sagan this time, just an acknowledgement to team sponsor Cannondale. He looked exhausted, I’m sure he was, along with his team no doubt. They gave us a great display of teamwork and perfect execution – it was a joy to watch.

I was equally happy that Impey kept the yellow jersey. For a new team, OGE have had a phenomenal week at the Tour, and just think, it was their bus that got things going.

In other news Christian Van de Velde had to abandon the Tour today after suffering another crash early in the stage. Hopefully he’ll be all healed up and ready to defend his US Pro Cycling Challenge championship in August.

Since I have Peter Sagan on my Fantasy Cycling Challenge team I picked up 125 points today, bringing the total thus far to a not-so-great 463.

Stage 8 is a doozy – the first day in the Pyrenees – and it’s a tough one. We should see a major shakeup in the GC  and jersey competitions. Just please don’t let Sky get yellow.


Stage profile

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 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

2012 Tour de France–Stage 20

22 Jul

Stage 20, the last stage of the 2012 Tour was part processional and part bike race. The last stage always is.

The first 50k or so is for pictures, offers of congratulations, conversation, and to give the guys time to soak up the final moments of this epic bike race. Just finishing the Tour is a remarkable feat, especially this year. Of the 198 riders who started the race this year, only 153 finished, the lowest number in many years. Most of them abandoned due to injuries suffered in the many crashes this Tour.

Today was a day for all the remaining riders to celebrate not just those that won 1 of the 4 jerseys or finished in one of the top 3 places on the podium.

In the Tour de France – to finish is to win.


4 jerseys getty images

The 4 jersey winners: Van Garderen, Wiggins, Sagan & Voeckler.

champagne getty

Champagne is always present on the last stage of ever Tour, hard to tell if Wiggins had any. 

sky team shot getty images

Winner Bradley Wiggins, 2nd place Christopher Froome and Sky teammates.

best eifel letour

The peloton making their way to Paris.

george goodbye ansel

George Hincapie riding in his last, a record-setting 17th Tour de France.

stage 20-gens roadcyclinguk

Jens Voight doing what he does – fighting for a stage win in a breakaway.

stage 20 racing christope ena ap

All the winning jerseys and the world champ, Cavendish.

the sprint stage 20 getty

Cavendish wins, Sagan 2nd, Goss 3rd

The last part of the race is all-out racing. This year the team of the yellow jersey was also racing to win the stage so  they had to stay at the front of the peloton more than is typical for the…. Sky also had to do most of the work initially to chase down the break, but eventually got Liquigas and Saxobank to pull. I never thought the break would make it even when it was getting down to the wire. It rarely happens on the Champs-Elysées and it certainly wasn’t going to happen this year – not with Cavendish going for a record-setting 4th win here.

With a lead-out of Tour winner Bradley Wiggins, then teammate Edvald Boasson-Hagen, Cavendish got the win he seemed destined for. Green jersey wearer Peter Sagan came from the pack to pass Matthew Goss from the winless GreenEdge team who got 3rd.


cav wins

Cavendish is the first to win 4 times on the Champs-Elysées

Everything today worked as planned for Sky just as the whole Tour has.

George Hincapie raced in his 17th and final Tour de France. He will be sorely missed, there aren’t many like him: loyal and devoted to his team and a leader to his younger teammates. Having Hincapie on the road is like having a director sportif on the road. I hope he stays involved with professional cycling. This was not a close Tour – the time gaps were the largest I can remember. More about that later.

Check back later this week when I post my thoughts on this year’s Tour – its winners and losers.

Final General Classification:

1. WIGGINS, Bradley (SKY PROCYCLING) 87:34:42
2. FROOME, Christopher (SKY PROCYCLING) + 3:21
5. VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) + 11:04
7. EVANS, Cadel (BMC RACING) + 15:51
8. ROLLAND, Pierre (EUROPCAR) + 16:31
9. BRAJKOVIC, Janez (ASTANA) + 16:38
10. PINOT, Thibaut (FDJ-BIG MAT) + 17:17
11. KLÖDEN, Andreas (RADIOSHACK-NISSAN) + 17:54
12. ROCHE, Nicolas (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 19:33
13. HORNER, Christopher (RADIOSHACK-NISSAN) + 19:55
14. SÖRENSEN, Chris Anker (SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK) + 25:27
15. MENCHOV, Denis (KATUSHA) + 27:22
18. COSTA, Rui Alberto (MOVISTAR) + 37:03
19. VORGANOV, Eduard (KATUSHA) + 38:16
20. VALVERDE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 42:26


Stage 20 Results:

1. Mark CAVENDISH, Sky, in 3:08:07

2. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0
3. Matthew Harley GOSS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
4. Juan José HAEDO, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, at 0
5. Kris BOECKMANS, Vacansoleil-DCM, at 0
6. Greg HENDERSON, Lotto-Belisol, at 0
7. Borut BOZIC, Astana, at 0
8. André GREIPEL, Lotto-Belisol, at 0
9. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, Sky, at 0
10. Jimmy ENGOULVENT, Saur-Sojasun, at 0
11. Tyler FARRAR, Garmin-Sharp, at 0

2012 Tour de France-Stage 18

20 Jul

The dominance of Team Sky continued today – this time with a different star – sprinter Mark Cavendish. Never has it been more clear why the world’s fastest man on a bike has the nickname “Manx Missile”. Cavendish looked like a short range missile when he shot from the peloton to take his 2nd stage win in this year’s Tour and 22nd overall. Cavendish rocketed past the two remaining riders in the front, Roche and Sanchez and made them appear like they were standing still – he was going so bloody fast – since the Brits are taking over the Tour I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.

Seriously though, it was amazing how fast Cavendish exploded from the pack and sprinted to the finish.

Stage 18 most believed, would be a stage that would be won by someone in a break and until fairly late it appeared that’s how it would be. The peloton didn’t even catch the remaining riders from the breaks until inside the last kilometer.

The break had 16 riders, many from the 13 teams without a stage win this Tour. The peloton was selective of who they let get away, there were numerous attacks at the gun, but a break wasn’t allowed to form until almost an hour into the stage. Their lead built up to as high as 3 minutes before different teams committed 1 or 2 riders to the front of the main group to chase them down. We saw Euskaltel-Euskadi, Quickstep, Ag2R, Rabobank, Sojasun and Liquigas all commit to chase the break down. As the gap was reduced to around 1 minute when the riders in the break started attacking each other. Vinokourov, Hansen, Paolini, Kloden, Roche and LL Sanchez tried to stay alive to battle for the win, but to no avail.

Nearing the finish with 3 kilometers to go, Sky made their plan known and went to the front to reel in the remaining 6 riders. Around the final kilometer yellow Jersey wearer Wiggins led out Cavendish with Boasson-Hagen between them. Once Wiggins peeled off Boasson-Hagen provided the final lead-out and at the 300 k mark Cavendish took matters into his own hands – make that legs. The charging peloton engulfed the remaining riders except for Roche and Sanchez, Cavendish ever so briefly hovered on their wheel before – BOOM he was gone and they wondered what the hell happened. Sagan and Goss managed to claim 2nd and 3rd, but no one was remotely close to Cavendish.

Truly amazing strength and speed!

cav passing sanchez roche stage 18 ap photo

stage 18 cav the telegraph

Cavendish has been bottled up this Tour as he and the team focused on getting and keeping the yellow jersey and 2nd place. How bottled up Cavendish has been was evident today in the way he rocketed to the finish. I’ve never seen anything like it. You must see the video shot from above to truly appreciate what he did – Manx (he’s from the Isle of Man) Missile (no explanation needed) – indeed.

There was no change in the overall classification, none was expected. It was obvious that all the jersey competitions are over – the green has been since Stage 1 really, yellow since Stage 7 and the polka-dot jersey for King of the Mountain was cemented yesterday. Apparently giving Mr. Voeckler, his team, and sponsors time to complete his ensemble for today’s stage.

In the words of Phil Liggett (tweaked), Thomas looked resplendent in polka-dots.

Voeckler stage 18 Voeckler FB page

Stage results

  • 1. Mark CAVENDISH, Sky, in 4:54:12
  • 2. Matthew Harley GOSS, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 3. Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 0
  • 4. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, Rabobank, at 0
  • 5. Nicolas ROCHE, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 6. Tyler FARRAR, Garmin-Sharp, at 0
  • 7. Borut BOZIC, Astana, at 0
  • 8. Sébastien HINAULT, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 0
  • 9. Daryl IMPEY, Orica-GreenEdge, at 0
  • 10. Samuel DUMOULIN, Cofidis, at 0

General classification

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 83:22:18
  • 2. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:05
  • 3. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:41
  • 4. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 5:53
  • 5. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 8:30
  • 6. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 9:57
  • 7. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 10:11
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 10:17
  • 9. Janez BRAJKOVIC, Astana, at 11:00
  • 10. Thibaut PINOT, FDJ-BigMat, at 11:46
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