TOP STORY: What a Great Tour de France!
I never thought I would type “What a Great Tour de France!” as the Tour for me had become a bit of a predictable procession over the last few years, around the time a certain American rider started his domination. There was a little bit of excitement when another American rider took the bull by the horns and fought for the win, but we found out later that Floyd was less than honest, which took the shine off his performance (totally). Then there was the non-Contador Tour de France win in 2010, it was a good Tour with some exciting stages but again it ended in farce over a miniscule positive, UCI intervention, court cases and a long time after the Tour was over it was given to Andy Schleck. Whichever side of the argument you are on, that case ruined another Tour.
Then last year’s Tour was dull and listless, like an old bit of lettuce at the back of the fridge. The excitement came down to whether or not Froome would rebel and attack his team leader Wiggins or that Nibali could overcome the domination of the Sky team. Add to that the famous interminably long, dull stages on straight, flat roads through boring farm land, it wasn’t a memorable Tour.
So why has this Tour de France been so good? True the course is interesting, the time trials not so long and there are more summit finishes, but the old adage is true; “it’s the riders that make the Tour.” Orica-GreenEdge enlivened the first week; they come across as wild and crazy guys, loving every minute of their job. Then the battle between the sprinters; Cavendish, Kittel and Greipel has made those flat stages bearable, especially when you throw in the chance of Peter Sagan upsetting the pure sprinters. Sky looked to have the race sewn up in the first Pyrenean stage in an Armstrong-esque first mountain day attack, but then the next day Movistar blew the race and the Sky team apart.
But the best day (apart from the Venteux) was stage 13, a stage that was going to be a sprinters procession, it was far from it. From Cavendish trying to distance Marcel Kittel to Alejandro Valverde puncturing at the wrong moment and missing the boat to the echelon set-up by the Saxo-Tinkoff team to put 1 minute into the Yellow jersey of Chris Froome, it was a day of full on excitement. It wasn’t the course that made the race, you could argue it was the wind that made the difference, but in the end it was the riders and the use of tactics that kept us on the edge of our seats.
There is still a week of Alpine climbing before we see who is the strongest/smartest rider in the 2013 Tour de France, but so far it’s been the best Tour for a long time. Long may it continue.
Full Gas on stage 13.
Tour de France 2013
After Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida) and Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi) had built up a lead of nearly 10 minutes on Stage 12 until their advantage plummeted. At the threshold to the finalé with 30 kilometres to go, the gap was reduced to 50 seconds and anarchy suddenly roamed the front group as they apparently all chased the honour of receiving the red numbers for most combatative rider. The last standing escapee, Juan Antonio Flecha, was caught with 6 kilometres to go and it was eyes down for the sprint.
At the entrance to the final 3 kilometres, there was a big crash in the peloton taking out most of the Lotto Belisol riders and Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen who has been forced to abandon the Tour with a fractured right scapula. In the high-paced bunch sprint, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) was led-out by team mate Gert Steegmans but it was not fast enough to hold off Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) who was simply faster to the line and took the stage win by half a wheel.
Stage winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano): “This win today means a lot to me,” said Kittel. “It’s the third win for the team, which is incredible. The team again did a really good job. They worked hard and kept me out of the wind all day. In the final kilometers it was our train against Omega Pharma – Quick-Step. When the last lead-out man pulled off I jumped to the right wheels and had a very good position when Mark Cavendish started the sprint. I stayed calm and was able to overtake him in the end, but it was very close. Today it was great to beat Cavendish in a straightforward sprint. In the final 200m I was able to sit on his wheel. We started the sprint together, and I had the best punch at the end.”
“We’ve done a good job so far, and I’m proud to know that I can beat the world’s best. Before the Tour we knew the team worked and we had prepared well, but when everything falls into place like this it is incredible. We’ve been working a long time for this, so these three wins are a big reward.”
Second on the stage Mark Cavendish: “You can sit there and analyze it, but when there is someone simply faster than you there is nothing you can do,” Cavendish said. “I don’t think me, or the team, could have done anything differently. He was just simply better today. I Tweeted the other day I think he’s the next big thing. I spoke with him today actually. I think he’s the next superstar in sprinting and he showed it today. He’s won three stages now and that’s not easy. I can tell you that from experience.”
“My team did incredible today,” Cavendish said. “We analyzed the finish beforehand. In the last days I think we’ve been a little too eager, you know, which is kind of a good thing because it means you’ve got the commitment from everybody. But ultimately we always ran out of guys. So today we talked about staying calm and staying patient and going at the last moment. The guys were a lot more comfortable and it made my job a lot easier. I’m just really disappointed I couldn’t finish it off for them.”
The crash involving Philippe Gilbert (BMC) happened inside the final three kilometres of the 218-kilometre race and involved more than a dozen riders. “It was very nervous with the headwind in the final,” Gilbert said. “Everybody was pretty nervous to move up. When the crash happened, I jumped on the brakes, hoping the guy behind me would do the same and that’s what he did. So I was happy to stay on my wheels.” Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) earned his third stage win of the race while Chris Froome (Sky) kept the overall lead. Evans said racing through crosswinds all day consumed energy and required concentration. “As we saw with the crash there in the final, whether it’s fatigue from the stage or because we are in the second half of the race, I don’t know,” Evans said. “But Brent (Bookwalter), Amaël (Moinard) and Steve (Morabito) worked in the first half and (Marcus) Burghardt and (Manuel) Quinziato kept me in the safe position in the final. So I was able to avoid all the dangers of the day.” BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said Friday will be another one for the sprinters before a tricky stage to Lyon. “Then we have to concentrate with Cadel on Sunday’s stage of the Mont Ventoux,” he said. “It’s there that we begin the last big week of the Tour de France with the mountains and the time trial. Anything can happen.”
5th on the stage Ferrari Lampre-Merida: “The average speed was high all day long, so I was a bit tired in the final part of the race. Anyway, I was willing to get a good result and so I did, despite the fact my legs were not at the top in the final meters. It’s a pity Cimolai got involved in the crash, he could have given me a good lead-out.”
Edvald Boasson Hagen has been forced to abandon the Tour de France following a fractured right scapula on stage 12. The Norwegian was caught up in a high-speed crash on the run into Tours as the peloton prepared for the bunch sprint. Despite remounting and riding to the finish, Boasson Hagen was visibly in pain and medical checks revealed the fracture and an end to his race. The 26-year-old has been an invaluable member of the team on both flat terrain and the climbs and his abandonment reduces Team Sky’s Tour attack to just seven riders after Vasil Kiryienka missed the time cut on stage nine.
Team Doctor Alan Farrell confirmed the news, telling TeamSky.com: “After the crash Edvald was taken to a local medical centre for x-rays which revealed he had a fracture of his right scapula (shoulder blade). Fortunately this doesn’t require surgery but Edvald will return home to Norway for further investigation and treatment and we look forward to seeing him racing again sometime over the summer.”
Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford added: “It’s a real shame for Edvald and a setback for the team that he’s been forced to abandon the race. It’s never nice to lose a rider of Edvald’s ability, but ultimately we’re still confident that with the riders we’ve got left we can pull together and see the race through. The plan doesn’t change and we will do everything we can to support Chris [Froome].”
Tour de France Stage 12 Result:
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano in 4:49:49.
2. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
6. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
7. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
8. Yohann Gene (Fra) Europcar
9. Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 12:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 47:19:13
2. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar at 3:25
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 3:37
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:54
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 3:57
6. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 4:10
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma- Quick-Step at 4:44
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 5:18
9. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar at 5:37
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5:39.
Stage 12 by Orica-GreenEdge:
Mark Cavendish won Stage 13, but don’t be fooled into thinking it was the sprinters day that it was billed to be, the stage was a game of chess on wheels. This stage was one of those stages that old riders call “not a day that you could win the Tour, but a day you could lose it.” It first started with triple stage winner; Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) being in a back group and Cavendish’s Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team riding hard to keep the new sprint king at a distance. Then Alejandro Valverde punctured and five of his Movistar team mates couldn’t get him back to the Yellow jersey group as Belkin started to ride with OPQS. The gaps were opening up as each echelon was giving it all they could into the strong cross wind. Next we had a little split at the front of the lead group under the pressure of the Saxo-Tinkoff team. In the group were many of the GC top men: Mollema & Ten Dam (Belkin), Contador & Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Fuglsang (Astana), add to that Mark Cavendish and the Green Jersey of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and it was the perfect scenario for a successful escape and it didn’t include the Yellow jersey of Chris Froome. Cavendish won the sprint from Sagan, Froome came in over 1 minute later, Valverde lost nearly 10 minutes on the Contador/Mollema group and any hope of winning the Tour and Thomas Voeckler was last seen at the start town of Tours.
“It was incredible, we talked about it this morning as we knew the wind was strong,” Cavendish said. “Gert Steegmans wanted to go, this was after 60km, and Tony Martin said to wait a little longer. Next thing, Gert goes and it just kicked off from there. It wasn’t quite strong enough to break it open completely, but then Saxo-Tinkoff went again later. It was incredible. I am so happy and proud of the guys. They rode out of their skin today, like, every one of them. It is just incredible to get a win like that.”
Cavendish admitted it was not easy to catch onto the select group that decided the finish, especially after doing so much work earlier in the stage and with such strong crosswinds.
“I barely made it,” Cavendish said. “Michal Kwiatkowski had been riding for us at the front so he was a bit gassed, but he still worked to get me across. I finally said ‘move left’ and he moved left, and I had to sprint to make it. I managed to just get in when the echelons started. You know that feeling where you know you’ve got five seconds or it’s over? You’ve got five seconds to make it, and that’s it. So, I just sprinted across.”
OPQS knew how to handle these conditions based on the pedigree and tradition of the team, according to Cavendish.
“We’re a Belgian team used to riding in the crosswinds,” Cavendish said. “We’ve got guys who are experienced at it. They’re strong at it, so along with Belkin it was a strong combination to get the move going and split the peloton to begin with.”
Some clever tactics in the final proved to be crucial for the victory.
“Sagan is a very strong guy,” Cavendish said. “We’re lucky we had three there, as Sagan only had one other guy. So, we knew if we launched Niki with a kilometer to go, Sagan would have to use up his leadout man. I made sure I stayed on Sagan’s wheel so Chavanel could take him and drop him off early. I knew if he dropped him off early into a headwind finish I’d just come around him. Sagan knew it was too early, so he kind of hesitated to get on the front. I just kicked it and am so happy I could stay away for the win. I’m so, so happy and proud of the guys today. The Tour de France is the most incredible race, and really the biggest annual sporting event, in the world. It means so much to me. When I think about this race I want to cry. It makes the wins that more special and the losses that much more amplified. Every July is what I look forward to when I start training in October. Today, I just finished off the work of my team. The guys rode out of their minds, they really rode their legs off. To watch them do that and then finish it off, it makes me incredibly proud.”
Cavendish couldn’t stop smiling after the stage win, and he explained the team chemistry is a huge reason why everyone is so happy.
“We’ve got a great group of guys,” Cavendish said. “I think we’ve got what, eight nationalities here at the Tour on our team? We’re a Belgian team with eight nationalities here and it really shows what kind of a dynamic group we are. We really have so much fun. We don’t just eat dinner and then go to bed. We sit around the table, we talk. I’m so happy, you can see how happy I am with this team and you can see how happy everyone else is. We’re all incredibly good friends and that really speaks volumes to our results and to our morale when riding our bikes.”
Fifth overall Laurens ten Dam (Belkin): “In the final I had a feeling that Saxo-Tinkoff was up to something. They hadn’t done so much work until then. When they attacked I immediately shouted to Bauke and therefore we were the first to join. The first kilometre was very hard, but when the peloton broke behind, I knew we were in a good spot. It’s great that we gained time on Froome and both gain a spot in the GC. That’s also due to our good preparation.”
Second overall Bauke Mollema (Belkin): “We did really good work. Laurens and I end up in the first group, but without the help of the guys, we couldn’t have done that. They did a superb job. They kept us at the front of the peloton all the time and it paid off. When Valverde punctured, we were already up front. At that point, we had planned to make an echelon. Later on, we heard Valverde suffered from bad luck. The minute we gained on Froome and the other GC riders is a very nice bonus. It already looked good for me, but it’s only getting better.”
“Chapeau to all my teammates,” said Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). “I’m very happy with today’s stage, if someone tell me before the start that we were going to get 1:10 on the leader, would have to cost me a lot to believe it. My team has been extraordinary. At first we remained calm because Alejandro Valverde had a mishap and decided not to cooperate, but in the end we saw that people were not looking so good, my team was very strong and we decided to try it because we saw other people hanging in the balance.”
Alberto admitted that he did not think he could do so much damage. “There was a time we were only at 10 seconds, but I have to say ‘chapeau’ to all my teammates because they have demonstrated the binding together of the team Saxo-Tinkoff Bjarne Riis has done.” Contador, on the question of whether he had shown that the Tour is not over, said that at present, “to be at 3:57 or to 2:45 does not change much the overall. Anyway we must go on the attack in the Alps, but we have to take a minute over the difference in the time trial. The Tour is still difficult, but not yet finished, it may happen thousand things. For now we have to rest, tomorrow is another day.”
On the decision to launch the latest attack, Alberto said his team “protected me all the time from the wind, because it was too dangerous to go in the group, until we saw that the most important teams faltered and as my team is very powerful, we decided to go forward. Bennati did a kilometre like a motorcycle and the group broke into a thousand pieces.”
Cadel Evans of the BMC Racing Team continued his ascent up the standings at the Tour de France Friday when crosswinds and aggressive team tactics split the peloton and shook up the general classification. Evans moved from 14th to 12th overall after Alejandro Valverde (previously second) and his Movistar teammate, Rui Costa (previously ninth), fell out of the top 10. “The first split there was a little bit expected,” Evans said. “But the big thing was that Valverde had a really unfortunate puncture. I’m sorry for him. It’s sometimes how it goes. It’s happened to me as well in the past.” Evans lamented not making the final selection, from which Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) won the stage ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale). “I’m a bit disappointed I missed the final split,” he said. “Moving forward a couple places is good, but I want to move forward a lot of places. But we have a couple of big days of racing over the weekend, so we’ll see.”
Lotto Belisol Manager Marc Sergeant: “At the moment that OPQS took the initiative to form echelons at about 100 kilometers from the end we were controlling the lead of the escapees with a few teams. Only Jürgen Roelandts was standing at the side of the road because nature called and Greg Henderson just came to get drinks at the team car when it split up. At that moment there was no problem. When Saxo placed a new coup with 30 km to go and only 14 riders were left, we had no one in front. I have to say how it is: at that point André should only keep an eye on Sagan and Cavendish. They were in the break and he wasn’t. And he should have been there as well.”
Lotto Belisol rider Jürgen Roelandts: “What can I say? I was standing at the side of the road, and they increased the tempo and I never got in front again. The rest of the race I haven’t seen anything anymore. The first 50 kilometers I was perfectly in front, but one moment was enough to get caught up in the back. It’s a pity.”
Saxo-Tinkoff’s Fabrizio Guidi comments: “We knew this stage offered the opportunity of attack but it wasn’t until the final 30 kilometres, the right moment occurred for us. The moment where we hoped to be able to keep the pressure to the finish line and our strong team around Alberto managed to gain one minute on Froome on this flat stretch and I’m really proud to have been a part of the today’s effort. It provides us with a boost of moral and now the guys know they can make the difference and there’s still one half of the race left. For that reason, we have to stay calm and focused. There are hard and difficult stages coming up and we have to stay one move ahead of everyone,” said Saxo-Tinkoff DS, Fabrizio Guidi.
The big loser of the day Alejandro Valverde: “It was a day of pure bad luck, there’s nothing else. We were riding at the front, attentive, confident, well positioned as we always did in this year’s Tour, but bad luck made someone crash into me from behind and breaking the rear wheel in a crucial moment. It’s something you can’t avoid. All the team stopped to wait for me and we were really close to bridge, but some teams, like Belkin or Europcar, pushed harder. That’s cycling – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We’ve got to keep fighting and stay calm: there’s still a long way to go in this Tour, and the race might and will change a lot.”
“My hopes for the rest of the race? It was hard to fight for the overall win before this stage and it’s even more complicated today, but we still have Nairo up-front and close in the overall. There’s a long week ahead, where we probably won’t be able to contest the leader jersey, but we can make some pain into the bunch. Let’s see how we plan things after this blow: Nairo is now our best GC rider and we will help him if we decide so, but we can also make a team strategy to hurt others and make the final podium. There are many mountain stages still to come and lots of things can happen. Some of those teams that helped out so I didn’t bridge can see their race hardened. The team gave 100% today – it actually was a tremendously hard day for everyone in the race.”
Tour de France Stage 13 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 3:40:08
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
5. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff
7. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
8. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin
9. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:06
10. Michael Rogers (Aus) Saxo-Tinkoff at 0:09.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 13:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 51:00:30
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 2:28
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2:45
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2:48
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 3:01
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 4:39
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 4:44
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 5:18
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5:39
10. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 5:48.
The last kilometre of stage 13:
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Matteo Trentin won Stage 14 out of an original 18 rider breakaway at the end of 191km in Lyon on Saturday, launching his sprint from long distance and overtaking several riders in an exciting final that included catching a rider solo with just 1 kilometre to go.
Trentin, in his Tour de France debut, was active in the final kilometres, even launching his own attack in hopes of catching Julien Simon (Sojasun). The continuous attacks in the break were enough to keep the tempo high and eventually Simon was caught. The gap to the peloton was more than enough to ensure the escape group would decide the stage. The stage included seven categorized climbs, but none higher than Category 3, and the final was flat.
In the final meters, Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) launched his sprint first in front. Trentin was able to launch on the right side from behind and powered his way past Albasini just before the line. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) was 3rd.
Trentin used his experience as the second to last lead-out man for Mark Cavendish in his own sprint to victory.
Stage winner Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step): “With Mark we always plan the sprint before the race,” Trentin said. “Every time we plan, so I have to start from this point, and arrive at that point. Gert has to start from that point and bring Mark to, I don’t know, 250 or 200 meters. The thing we always say is ‘be calm and wait for the right moment.’ Today, I just waited for the right moment. Because I saw the wind, and everybody that started before me in the sprint for sure would come back because it was too strong to make a longer sprint than 200 meters. I just waited because I knew that my good sprint is 200 meters or less. When I saw the 200 meter marker, I started and that was the key of my sprint today.”
Trentin had to do plenty of work to put himself in good position, as riders were attacking and marking each other all the way into the final. In the last meters, he said, all of the controlling no longer mattered.
“In a breakaway of about 20, of course you can’t control everybody,” Trentin said. “So maybe somebody controlled Albasini, maybe the guys who think for sure he is going to attack for the final. They know I am quite fast, so maybe there’s a fast guy who controlled me. Because in the last 20km I saw that I always had Rojas (Movistar) with me, on my wheel, almost always behind me. I also controlled other guys, so it’s something like a tactic within a tactic during the race. But when you arrive to the finish line it is just your legs. Nothing more controls somebody else.”
Trentin has gained quick experience despite being such a young rider. He recently completed the Giro d’Italia, and now has stood on the top step of a Tour de France podium. However, he thinks he still has to learn a lot about himself on the bike.
“I think in the last two years of professional cycling I have tried almost everything,” Trentin said of his riding. “Because I did the Classics, I did one Grand Tour; I’m still doing my second one in the same year. For sure all that experience that the team made for me, is also part of this victory. Because I have the chance to ride with great riders like the big champion Mark, Tom Boonen in the Classics, and also Tony Martin in the time trials. I’m on a great team, with a great structure, and it is perfect to grow up as a rider. I don’t know where I can focus for sure on my future. For sure I love the Classics, but I think we can see in a few years. I have to grow more to be sure if this is right or if that is right.”
Trentin’s OPQS teammates were so happy for his victory that they rushed to hug him, one-by-one, immediately after the stage.
“We have a great spirit in this team, we are really united,” Trentin said. “The hugs of my teammates meant a lot to me. For sure, a win in the Tour it means something special. Now I want to enjoy this with my teammates. The next days will be hard. I think we need to be focused for the Champs-Élysées for Mark. At the finish of the Tour then we will see how I will finish the season.”
Fourth on the stage José Joaquín Rojas (Movistar): “After all, what we wanted today is tell everyone that, despite what happened yesterday, we have not lost all hope in this year’s Tour – we’re willing, we have the courage to keep fighting and shining. It was my turn to contest the win today, but I couldn’t take it. The break companions knew I was the fastest guy and, as logical, they forced me to go after several moves in the finale, especially in the last kilometre, when Albasini attack. I saw the race off my hands and had to give almost all I had on the tank with 600m to go – Trentin was on my wheel and profited from it. All those efforts leave you drained, but I had to ride like that in order to win.
“Today I’m leaving this city with the feeling of having lost a chance, but also satisfied because I gave all I had in my legs and my heart. Not only strength counts here, you always need good luck. It might have been harsh yesterday, but we must keep trying – that’s cycling. There’s another good stage for me on Tuesday to make the break, but all team riders have good stages in the next week to be up-front. We haven’t done all we could do yet. We know we did things well in this Tour – it was only the road who turned its face to us yesterday.”
Sixth Lotto Belisol’s Lars Bak: “I had indicated this stage beforehand; I really wanted to be in the break. Today’s profile reminded me of the Giro stage I won last year. To really be in the break isn’t evident, that I succeeded in it shows I was good. The first two hours the pace was really high. It was extremely hard, especially with the wind. When we were in front with four, there weren’t sufficient teams represented, so they kept chasing us. The fourteen guys that joined us were all good riders. Only Euskaltel and Lampre were leading the chase until Sky took over and they just rode a steady tempo.”
“Thirty kilometers from the finish the final could start in the front. Several riders tried to take off. I knew that I had to survive the last three climbs and then I wanted to repeat the story of the Giro by attacking in the final five kilometers. I felt really strong today and had good legs. I really had the feeling I could go on. In the final I placed a counter-attack with five and three kilometers to go. When Simon was caught by the group and the sprint started, I was total loss.”
BMC Racing Team’s Marcus Burghardt finished 14th and Tejay van Garderen was 16th: “We knew we weren’t the fastest guys in the sprint, so we had to ride aggressively to try to get away,” van Garderen said. “It’s hard when you’re not a sprinter to win out of a group like that. Maybe if there was a harder climb or a climb closer to the finish we would have had a good chance. But we had to try.” Burghardt said simply making the break was an accomplishment. “It was fast in the beginning, but then we made a good move and we got into it with two guys and were working well together,” he said. With Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) being part of the breakaway, BMC Racing Team’s Cadel Evans slipped one spot to 13th overall, 6:54 behind race leader Chris Froome (Sky).
Tour de France Stage 14 Result:
1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 4:15:11
2. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
5. Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis
6. Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol
7. Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano
8. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
9. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha
10. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 14:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 55:22:58
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 2:28
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2:45
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2:48
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 3:01
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 4:39
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 4:44
8. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 5:18
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 5:39
10. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 5:48.
Chris Froome (Sky) showed he was the best man on the road up to the summit of Mont Ventoux with a blistering exhibition of climbing power in the final kilometres of Stage 15. The last of the hopeful break (Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step)) was caught on the lower slopes of the Monster Mountain as Nairo Quintana (Movistar) exploded from what was left of the front group, chasing down Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) who had made an earlier attack. The Sky team put Peter Kennaugh on the front to thin down the remnants of the GC group until he rode to a standstill. Next Richie Porte put his nose to the front and burnt everyone off apart from his leader; Chris Froome and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). When Porte had finished his stint, Foome put in a big attack dropped Contador, passed Nieve and caught Quintana. The Kenyan born Froome rode with the Colombian, with some small attacks, until one and a half kilometres to go and then he launched his final kick to leave Quintana for the stage win and more time on everyone.
Behind Froome Quintana rode on for 2nd, Contador cracked and was joined by Roman Kreuziger as Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) jumped up to join Nieve.
Going into Monday’s rest day we have a new look to the overall as Froome put time into the field, Contador is a little closer to Mollema, Quintana moved up to 6th and Rodriguez up the 8th. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) dropped to 10th and lost his White jersey to Quintana and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) lost the KOM to Froome. Cadel Evans (BMC) lost a lot of time and any chance of a good overall position.
After taking the stage win, one day after the anniversary of Tom Simpson’s death on the climb, Froome admitted: “I didn’t imagine this. This climb is so historic and it means so much to this race – especially being the 100th edition.
“I really didn’t see myself winning this stage today I thought I’d have to surrender the stage to Quintana in the final. My main objective was to get more of a buffer on the GC. But I didn’t see myself winning that stage today – I really can’t believe it.”
Froome was quick to praise his Colombian rival, adding: “He’s a really strong climber. I did expect him to [attack] a little further out but I didn’t expect it to be that hard to try and catch him. In the last 2kms he started fading and I had a little bit left.
“I was just trying to motivate him. I said ‘Come on let’s just keep pushing on. We’re getting more of an advantage on the guys behind us.’ And he did actually – hats off to him. He started working with me. The last two kilometres I don’t think I attacked he just couldn’t hold the wheel anymore.”
2nd on the stage and now 8th overall Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “Today’s result is good. I felt well all day, and even though we didn’t win, the were at the front and we took back the white jersey we lost in the TT. I attack because I saw many riders struggling and knew it was a zone where very few could keep a strong pace. The idea was to win some time and get close to the podium; I knew the white jersey would come with that attack and I dreamt of winning the stage, too.
“Unfortunately, Froome caught me. He’s way superior than the rest. The first attack came from behind and took me out of focus. I followed his wheel in the distance and ended up bridging. He thought I was stronger than I was really feeling, and that’s why he talked to me, telling we should keep pushing to leave Contador behind, and he’d let me win the stage. But I knew it was a bit of ‘fake agreement’, because I saw how strong he was and I had to fool him a bit to get that far into the climb. He needed to take more time, I’m not at the same level and even though he didn’t fulfilled his promise, I understand him. I knew I wouldn’t be able to put up with another attack, and when he move, I pulled a bit off the gas, took a breath and went on my pace until the finish so as not to lose too much time.
“I hope to keep the white jersey and take some more time to be on the podium. There are some tough stages coming up, plus the TT, where I hope not to lose as much time with the other rivals as in the first one. It suits me better than the flat one – should it be flat, heavier riders would make things difficult, but I’m convinced I’ll perform well. These days are taking their toll: En estos días ya se acumula el cansancio: stages are longer, you’ve got to get up earlier, you don’t rest as much as you would like… but this is for everyone – I think next week’s stages will play on our favour.
After the stage, Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi) stated: “I am happy with the climb, it was important for me to finish third in this mythical summit. I’m in my first Tour and to be at this level, third in the Mont Ventoux, is to be happy” he summed up. “I cannot wait for the last moment to attack the people who are in this race. I’ve played my cards and I wanted to go opening a gap from behind to have options. When Quintana caught me, I wanted to stay with him, but I saw he was stronger than me and it was impossible. I focused on keeping my pace constant and wanted to finish third and I achieved it.”
As far as the victory of Froome, Mikel stated that “this is at a higher level. He has had a very good year and has been at that level. It was impossible to keep his wheel. It was a very demanding day, luckily we have day off tomorrow and will have to take it to regain strength. The Tour remains very tough one last week and so far, we’ve had good legs. I’ll Continue with the fight,” he said satisfied.
Fourth on the stage and eighth overall Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha): “It was a difficult stage, from the beginning in fact, as usual, in the first hour the group kept an impressive average speed. In the last climbing, I preferred to keep a regular pace, without replying to the attack and accelerations. Thanks to this, I could give my best in the last part and recover as many seconds as possible.”
Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff): “It was enough to climb at our our pace, ‘chapeau’ to him, you can’t say anything more, Froome is very strong”. What also disappointed Alberto was starting to thinking about the second place. “I’ve been thinking about winning, that’s the goal, but every day there is a face to face and he takes more distance, but we will see, in the Tour you never know what will happen until Paris. Now I just think to recover and enjoy the rest day, the second position is still secondary. It was a difficult stage, especially because it went very fast throughout the first half,” said Contador. “We went at an incredible speed, because teams like Europcar wanted to put someone in the break and had not. That has made the whole day we were above 50 kph and it reduced the strength of all. We arrived at the foot of Mont Ventoux with 220 kilometres and with that speed we had not much strength.”
The aim of Contador was “trying to go there with Froome as a reference, because I knew that he had to be more attentive to Quintana. He knew that he had a chance, because it was a single climb and in a face to face with the rest, he would benefit. It has happened like this, he managed to stay above the rest and although I tried to hold until I could, finally he put an impossible pace and I had to go easier.” Alberto acknowledged that in a face to face, “in his form nobody can beat him today, unless he has a bad day, let’s see what happens in the Alp stages, with chained climbs, where his team may suffer a little more. We’ll see what the options are.” For the rest of the favourites, he especially referred to Quintana. “He is very strong, is a very hard rider. Between the others we don’t have big differences, though today I was focused on keeping the wheel of Froome,” he repeated. “The Tour is not over until Paris, although the overall difference is already very, very big.”
5th overall Laurens ten Dam (Belkin): “I’m glad I was able to help Bauke today and I’m happy with the fact that we both successfully defended our positions in the GC. I felt really good on the Ventoux. Unfortunately, I could not follow Froome but that is no surprise. This whole year he has been too strong.”
2nd overall Bauke Mollema (Belkin): “I’m not sure if I’ve ever had to go so deep. In the last ten kilometres I was really suffering. Laurens was very strong and did a lot of work. That was great. During the climb, some small gaps were made, but in then end I’m still second in the GC. I had to give everything I had, but I guess you can take a lot of pain when you’re second overall.”
With teammates Philippe Gilbert and Steve Morabito riding beside him, BMC Racing Team’s Cadel Evans crossed the finish line at the summit of Mont Ventoux Sunday after a battle to the top on the Tour de France’s longest stage. Evans conceded 8:46 to solo stage winner Chris Froome (Sky Procycling). After losing contact with 11 kilometres to go in the 20.8 km climb at the end of the 242.5-km stage, Evans slipped to 16th overall, 15:40 behind. “What can I say? I was nowhere near where I wanted to be and had a lot of difficulties,” the 2011 Tour de France winner said. “I was feeling fine to start, a bit tired after the start and exhausted even before we started the climb. It’s hard to go in with big expectations when you’re exhausted before the climb even starts. As the climb went on, (I felt) worse and worse. When you’re popped out of the group, it doesn’t do much for your motivation.”
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s break away hero Sylvain Chavanel: “I’m happy because I was the most aggressive rider on Bastille Day,” Chavanel said. “In the first two hours we were riding really at a high pace. We had a good gap, but not enough to try to go for the win. We needed to have seven or eight minutes at the foot of the Mont Ventoux to arrive. It’s a pity because I think I was one of the strongest guys in the front group. But today I rode also for the public and for the spectacle. It was unbelievable to hear all the supporters on the road cheering for me and for the riders in general. I hope to have given them a good day at the Tour. In the next days we will see what I can do. The course is not exactly for me, we go into the mountains but, you never know.”
Tour de France Stage 15 Result:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky in 5:48:45
2. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 0:29
3. Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1:23
4. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1:40
6. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1:43
8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 1:46
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 1:53
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 2:08.
Tour de France Overall After Stage 15:
1. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 61:11:43
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 4:14
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 4:25
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 4:28
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 4:54
6. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar at 5:47
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 6:22
8. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha at 7:11
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 7:47
10. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 7:58.
The last K of stage 15:
And what to do when you get caught:
Petacchi & Urán to OPQS?
It is now for sure that Alessandro Petacchi will ride for Omega Pharma – Quick-Step from the first of August this year and for 2014. Petacchi ended his contract with Lampre-Merida in April and was willing to start work with the Mark Cavendish sprint train, but the UCI would not allow the transfer until the start of the official transfer season. Rigoberto Urán on the other hand has a contract with the Sky team until the end of this season and would be a great signing for any team interested in a Grand Tour contender. Sporza reported that Omega Pharma – Quick-Step team manager has said “I will fly to Italy in early August for the signatures”, both riders live in Italy.
RusVelo Team Suspended
The Russian team RusVelo should have to suspend its self for a month, under MPCC rules, after three of their riders were positive for an asthma medication. Earlier this year Valery Kaykov was sacked by the team after his positive for GW1516, the reportedly dangerous fat burning drug. Then in late June at the Russian national championships; Andrey Solomennikov, Roman Maikin and Artem Ovechkin were all found to have taken the asthma drug Fenoterol which is banned for in-competition use. The team claim that the drug had been prescribed wrongly by the team doctor and he has been punished by the team and the riders are suspended until the Russian anti-doping agency make a decision on the case. Under Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC) rules the team should suspend its self for four week as they have had three positive tests in a 2 year period. The team did not ride in Sunday’s Giro dell’Appennino.
Road World Championships Selection Pool Announced For Women
Numainville, Ramsden, Carleton and Glaesser among the shortlisted group
Press Release: Cycling Canada is proud to announce list of ten women selected to the selection pool for the 2013 UCI Road World Championships, which will be held in September.
Notably, the list includes the two-time Canadian Road Champion Joëlle Numainville (Laval, QC) and 2012 Olympian Denise Ramsden (Yellowknife, NWT), both of Optum-Kelly Benefits.
The list also includes 2012 Olympic medallists Gillian Carleton (Victoria, BC) and Jasmin Glaesser (Coquitlam, BC), who competed in track cycling at the last Olympic Games.
The women’s team at the World Championships will be led by Head Coach Denise Kelly.
The final selection will be announced at a later date, as well as the men elite and espoir selection pool.
Follow Cycling Canada on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cyclingcanada and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/canadiancycling.
Selection Pool – 2013 UCI Road World Championships – Toscana, ITA
Lex ALBRECHT (26; Barrie, ON)
Karol-Ann CANUEL (25; Amos, QC)
Gillian CARLETON (23; Victoria, BC)
Véronique FORTIN (33; Gatineau, QC)
Jasmin GLAESSER (21; Coquitlam, BC)
Leah KIRCHMANN (23; Winnipeg, MB)
Véronique LABONTÉ (32; Montréal, QC)
Joelle NUMAINVILLE (25; Laval, QC)
Denise RAMSDEN (22; Yellowknife, NWT)
Anika TODD (23; Victoria, BC).
The World Championships Trailer to be screened during the events of the Tuscan Summer
The official trailer for the upcoming UCI Road World Championships, made by RAI will be screened during the main Tuscan summer festivals. Amongst the many cultural events where it will be displayed, the Lucca Summer Festival (6th to the 30th of July), a stage for both national and international artists in Piazza Napoleone, and the Festival Gaber in Camaiore (from the 5th to the 31th of July), which commemorates this year the tenth anniversary of the death of the artist from Milan.
Here is the 2013 World’s promo video:
Canadian National Road Race Champion Zach Bell Wins Peace Arch News Road Race
~ Oxnard, California’s Kathryn Donovan Takes Women’s Race by Three Minutes
Despite an impressive resume that includes multiple BC Superweek victories and representing Canada at two Summer Olympics, North Vancouver’s Zach Bell (Champion System) has never won the Tour de White Rock’s Peace Arch News Road Race – until now.
Bell broke away from the group with about eight laps to go in the gruelling 134 kilometre trek and finished nearly four minutes ahead of Germany’s Michael Schweizer (NSP Ghost/Team Germany) and almost five minutes before German rider Florenz Knauer (Team Baier Landshut) crossed the finish line. Bell’s time was three hours, 31 minutes and 38 seconds.
“Guys were trying to stretch the group and snap the elastic right from beginning and I just tried to float a bit. Once we got twelve guys away, I put in a soft one on the flats to keep the group moving and they let me roll. I got up to Jesse Reams and we rolled for about a lap, but the second time up the hill, he didn’t have much left and I tried to wait for him,” Bell explained. “I just tried to keep the pressure on, stay at a steady tempo until it was two to go and then just jammed it. I kept hearing that the group was getting smaller and smaller and when you’re away, that’s nothing but good news.”
After doing 11 laps around a longer 10.1-kilometer circuit that includes a brutally steep climb, Bell began dropping riders even more so after the men moved into the shorter 3.8-kilometer course for the final six laps, including one big climb.
As the lone member of the Champion Systems team on the course, Bell, who is the 2013 Canadian Elite Men’s National Road Race champion, thought the Peace Arch News Road Race levelled the playing field.
“I wanted to win something this week and it’s pretty tough with the teams and this Road Race is a course that can negate the teams,” Bell continued. “I kind of had my eye on it and I’ve been climbing reasonably well this year.”
The 30-year-old, Watson Lake, Yukon-raised Bell was especially pleased to check the event off his bucket list.
“It’s my first win in the National Champs jersey, so it’s a nice thing to do, and especially to do it in one of my home races and a race I’ve never won before.”
When asked why he enjoyed a course that seemed so difficult and demanding – only 11 of the original 76 riders crossed the finish line – Bell didn’t pull any punches.
“I like to suffer and this is a good course to suffer on. Guys who don’t like to suffer don’t do well here,” laughed Bell. “With the level of field here it suits me. With a deeper field of better climbers, I might not do so well, but I’ve been doing well on the hilly, classic-type courses in Europe and Asia, so this is right up my alley.”
For Knauer, BC Superweek this year ended with six straight appearances in the top three. The Lisberg, Germany product was second in Saturday’s Choices Markets criterium, second in Friday’s Hill Climb, he won the Giro di Burnaby on Thursday and finished third in Wednesday’s Gastown Grand Prix and Tuesday’s UBC Grand Prix.
With Team NOW and Novartis for MS on the podium twelve times prior to the Peace Arch News Road Race, there was a good chance that one of its eight riders would be on the podium once again Sunday afternoon. And after the eight lap, 80 kilometre race was done, it was a NOW rider on top, but one who hadn’t previously been on the podium during BC Superweek this year.
Kathryn Donovan, who hails from Oxnard, California, finished almost three minutes ahead of her teammate Lex Albrecht of Montreal, Quebec. Albrecht, 2012 Canadian Olympic bronze medallist Jasmin Glaesser (Team Tibco), and another NOW and Novartis for MS rider Olivia Dillon sprinted to the finish line with Albrecht and Glaesser claiming second and third, respectively.
“We let other girls set the pace for the first half of the race and with three laps to go we started attacking,” Donovan said. “Then it dwindled down to four of us and we were trying to attack to get Jasmin off the wheels.”
Donovan was quick to give credit to Glaesser.
“She’s really strong, she was setting the pace on the climbs, so she’s a really good climber,” Donovan added. “She’s a good sprinter too, but we wanted to keep Lex and Olivia in the overall omnium GC.”
Despite the difficulty of the course, Donovan actually relished it.
“I really liked it, it was hard. We were either going up or down,” continued Donovan. “Every lap, I noticed the pack dwindle down.”
After sweeping the podium in Friday’s Homelife Realty Hill Climb and Saturday’s Choices Markets Criterium, Glaesser was very aware of the threat that the ladies from NOW and Novartis for MS represented.
“Going into the race, when NOW had eight riders on the start line, it was going to be tricky no matter what. My plan was to make it a really hard race and go for broke and see what happens,” Glaesser said. “At the end I was in a really tricky situation with four NOW riders and myself – it’s not a good place to be in – so eventually I had to make a decision knowing the win was unlikely. I had to let one of the riders go and try to fight it out for second or third place. I think at the end of the day after seeing how the odds stacked up at the start, I’m happy with second place.”
Glaesser, who was born in Germany, but lives in Coquitlam, feels that for the next event, things will be a little more even.
“Later this week when I’m down in Bend, Oregon for the Cascade Cycling Classic, I’ll have my teammates with me and we’ll see how things work out then,” smiled Glaesser. “But the NOW team did a great job throughout BC Superweek and for them to come out is great in building the women’s field.”
One of four BC Superweek ambassadors, Albrecht had finished no worse than first on the podium during this year’s series after winning the MK Delta Lands criterium ten days ago and this past Friday’s Hill Climb, but she was second on this day. Not that it bothered Albrecht though, she was happy to see one of her teammates on top.
“Cycling is a team sport and a lot of people don’t understand that, especially because we have individual results at the end of the race with our own names beside them, but our goal is to have one girl on the top step of the podium and when we have the opportunity, we’re going to try and paint the podium with the blue and orange of NOW and Novartis for MS as much as possible.”
Despite not racing in BC Superweek before, it was obvious that the event had already carved out a special place in Albrecht’s heart, especially being on the podium in her home country.
“It’s definitely extra special. I love racing with my team here in Canada, we usually race in the United States so it’s a excellent opportunity to race at home and share what Canada’s all about with my teammates,” a visibly proud Albrecht said. “They’ve all been really impressed with not only the beauty of the Lower Mainland of BC, but also the hospitality of the people and this was generally just a great experience overall for everybody.”
Omniums or Overall Titles
Albrecht’s second place finish along with a win in Friday’s Hill Climb gave her the Tour de White Rock omnium, or overall, title ahead of teammate Dillon, who was fourth on Sunday.
Finishing in third allowed Knauer to take the men’s overall for the Tour de White Rock, seven points ahead of countryman Tim Gebauer (German National Team).
Learn more at www.bcsuperweek.ca
The PEZ NEWSWIRE!
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