SAN DIEGO, July 14, 2013 – Winning atop Mont Ventoux at the Tour de France is a win that puts any cyclist into the record books. It’s like winning the Indy 500 or the Boston Marathon. It is the pinnacle of cycling, literally. More has been said about this one climb than any other in the 100 years of the Tour de France. It is brutal and beautiful, so brutal British rider Tom Simpson collapsed and died enroute to the top in 1967. The winner here becomes part of the legend of the race.
Chris Froome’s outstanding victory atop Mont Ventoux at the Tour de France Sunday made the climb to 6,273 feet look relatively easy. The difficulty only became apparent watching other riders struggle, including some of Froome’s closest rivals.
On the longest stage of the Tour and the stage every rider wants to win, a ten man breakaway group led by sprinter Peter Sagan led right to the start of the final climb. An elite group of riders including all of the top contenders revved up the pace at the base of the mountain. Most of the other riders broke and dropped back one by one. When Sagan decided to let the pack go and relinquish his early lead, the former mountain bike rider popped a wheelie and waved to cameras, showing the humor and love for the sport that has made his such a popular rider.
“I’m very happy that I took some important points and that I put on a show when we got caught by the bunch; this wheelie that I did was for fun, it’s for the people – it makes a nice photo, no? I was doing this while the bunch was riding flat-out,” said Sagan.
French rider Sylvain Chavanel attacked first; after all, it is Bastille Day. His lead on the remaining breakaway and the leaders of the race in a small peloton led by five Sky Racing Team riders was short lived. Mikel Nieve of Euskatel attacked with 10 miles to climb and Nairo Quintana of Movistar joined him in the lead. With seven miles to go, the contenders were all together. Froome had two teammates with him, Richie Porte and Peter Kennaugh.
Kennaugh and then Porte led their teammate up to the five mile mark, and then Froome took over. Contador had stayed with them until this point, but he could not answer Froome’s amazing surge. No one could. Froome caught up to Quntana, who had been 30 seconds ahead of him. Froome tried to drop Quintana and it took him several tries, but with just over one kilometer to the finish, Froome dropped Quintana and headed for victory.
“This climb is so historic and means so much to this race especially being the 100th edition. And I didn’t expect to win here today,” said Froome. “Quintana is a very strong climber and I wasn’t expecting him to go from as far as he did but hats off to him, he did a great ride and he showed how strong he is. When I did catch up to him, I thought: ‘This guy is going to win the stage today and I’m going to have to settle for second’. But then, in the last two kilometers, he was fading a little and I still had a little bit left. We talked a little bit and I was just trying to say, ‘Man, come on just a little bit more… we’re almost there’ but he was slipping behind.
“Near the end, I don’t think that I attacked it was just that he couldn’t ride on my wheel anymore and a gap opened,” observed Froome.
For his part, Quintana said, “I had the illusion that I would win the stage but at the end I lacked strength. I gave everything I had, but this was a very difficult climb and the whole day had been raced at a fast pace. I’m absolutely exhausted… I thought he’d be less strong than he was but he produced a violent effort and just could not follow.”
Quintana at age 23 is just starting his elite cycling career. We will be watching him win for years to come.
No changes in the order of top five riders, but Froome gained time on his rivals, and Quintana moved up the leaderboard in his podium quest.
Chris Froome, Sky Racing Team: 61 hours, 11 minutes, 43 seconds
Bauke Mollema, Belkin, 4 minutes, 14 seconds behind
Alberto Contador, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 4 minutes, 25 seconds behind
Roman Kreuziger, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 4 minutes, 28 seconds behind
Laurens Ten Dam, Belkin, 4 minutes, 54 seconds behind
Nairo Qunitana Rojas, Movistar, 5 minutes 47 seconds behind
Jakob Fuglsang, Astana, 6 minutes, 22 seconds
Joaquim Rodruiguez, Katusha, 7 minutes, 11 seconds behind
Because of his high mountain stage victory, Froome now owns the King of the Mountains jersey, but it will be worn by Mikel Nieve of Euskatel who placed third. Quintana seized the young rider’s white jersey. Peter Sagan did his part on the early part of the stage to extend his lead for the sprinters’ green jersey. Team Saxo-Tinkoff held the team lead.
Monday is a rest day, one the riders can sorely use. On Tuesday, Stage 16 is relatively short but takes the peloton over rolling terrain that won’t allow anyone an easy ride.
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 +
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.