SAN DIEGO, July 12, 2013 – The reason fans love the Tour de France is that anything can happen.
Friday’s stage was expected to be a routine flat stage ride with a bunch sprint finish. But it became a war of attrition due to shifting crosswinds, a bit of bad luck, and the loss of riders from top teams due to injury.
The day’s surprises started when the Omega Pharma Quickstep team stepped up the pace of the peloton to catch a small breakway group so its sprinter Mark Cavendish would have a chance for a stage win. The speed plus the strong crosswinds caused the peloton to split into three groups. When the Saxo-Tinkoff team of Alberto Contador realized that overall leader Chris Froome of Sky Racing was in the second group, Saxo-Tinkoff joined forces with Omega and stepped on the gas in an attempt to gain time.
In the midst of this effort, GC contender Alejandro Valverde suffered a flat tire. The peloton groups couldn’t wait for him, and though his Movistar teammates came back to try and help him catch up, the result was a disaster. Valverde lost nearly 10 minutes to Froome and is now in 16th place.
Froome’s Sky Racing Team has lost two riders, including Edvald Boasson Hagen to a broken scapula after Thursday’s crash near the finish line. Without teammates to help cut the wind and drive the pace, Froome had to be content to lose a little more than a minute to his rivals.
The lead group contained print rivals Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan. All the work that Cavendish’s teammates put in paid off. The Manx Missile put on a real show. Cavendish notched his second stage victory in a runaway win ove Sagan. It was his 25th stage win in the Tour, placing him third all time behind only Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx. He will likely catch Hinault; he could even catch Merckx.
Cavendish hasn’t had the sort of Tour success he hoped for and has suffered through a bit of controversy over his battle with up and coming sprint star Marcel Kittel. But an exhulant Cav was all smiles after the stage today and gave all the credit to his team.
“We talked about it a little bit. We knew the wind was strong. It’s strong enough to break it … and it just kicked off. It was incredible. The guys rode out of their skin today, every one of them. It was me on the podium but it should have been all of Omega Pharma-Quickstep today. They were all just incredible. They rode their hearts out. They rode into the ground.
“I’m so excited to win, so happy to win. It’s been a difficult few days and it’s nice to be on the podium again … The finish would have suited me if it was a bunch sprint but we actually happy to have a smaller group and it ended up being a two-up sprint between Sagan and myself and I was happy to beat him.
“They guys gave it everything. Yesterday they gave everything and I let them down in the final; today they put even more into it, even earlier and I’m so happy we could win. It’s really nice.”
The new look to the overall standings after today’s stage with the big changes in second through sixth place:
Chris Froome, Sky Racing Team: 42 hours, 29 minutes, 24 seconds
Bauke Mollema, Belkin, 2 minutes, 28 seconds behind
Alberto Contador, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 2 minutes, 45 seconds behind
Roman Kreuziger, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 2 minutes, 48 seconds behind
Laurens Ten Dam, Belkin, 3 minutes, 1 second behind
Jakob Fuglsang, Astana, 4 minutes, 39 seconds
Michal Kwiatkowski, Omega Pharma Quickstep, 4 minutes, 44 seconds behind
Nairo Qunitana Rojas, Movistar, 5 minutes 18 seconds behind
Cadel Evans sits in 12th place 6 minutes and 54 seconds behind. Andrew Talansky remains the highest placed American rider in 17th place, 13 minutes and 11 seconds back.
No change in the jersey lineup. Michal Kwiatkowski retains the young rider’s white jersey. Pierre Rolland retained the King of the Mountains jersey; Peter Sagan added to his lead in the competition for the sprinters’ green jersey over Andre Griepel who was caught in the second group. Because of Movistar’s bad fortune, Team Saxo-Tinkoff seized the team lead.
Saturdady’s Stage 14 moves the peloton closer to its rendezvous with the Alps. It would appear to be another routine stage with an opportunity for a sprint finish, but everyone is hedging their bets after Friday’s action.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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