SAN DIEGO, July 19, 2013 – With just three stages left, many of the 170 riders left in the race simply want to get to Paris on Sunday in one piece.
Enjoying a safe lead, Chris Froome of Sky Racing Team only needs to keep an eye on his chief rivals and play it safe to stand on top of the podium on the Champs Elysees Sunday.
But the riders sitting in second through sixth place are fighting for those other two podium positions. Still other competitors want to win honors as the best sprinter, climber, or best young rider. Three stage victories remain for riders to grab a little glory for themselves, their teams and their nations.
Action in the Alps today at the Tour came from some of those names. The stage win went to Rui Costa of Portugal on the Movistar team. It was his second stage win in this year’s Tour. Costa joined a large breakaway group, which the overall leaders let fly with no concerns about catching them. He stayed ahead and on the last of the day’s five climbs, he attacked and opened a gap on his rivals. Costa finessed a speedy descent down the mountains to the finish line.
It makes fans wonder what might have been for Costa. He lost nearly ten minutes of time when he was ordered to wait with Movistar team leader Alejandro Valverde after Valverde blew out a tire so he could help Valverde catch back up to the main peloton. But the Movistar team never recovered, and Costa’s chances for a podium finish were lost. Such is the nature of the Tour.
After his win, Costa said, “”The Tour is a race I like, and I find it important to present me with the best form each time. I have won two stages this year, and I’m glad of that. We’ll see what the future holds for me, and if I can become a runner overall at the Tour, but now I’m quite satisfied with what I did this year.” Costa needs to find a team where he will be supported, and he could be a serious GC contender.
It was a rainy day on and off in the Alps. At times the downpour was so heavy it looked like it was the middle of the night, with riders silhouetted by the headlines of the team cars. Rain can make the mountain descents treacherous. One rider found out the hard way. New Zealand rider Jack Bauer of Garmin Sharp crashed out and hit a fencepost, breaking his nose. Bauer will not finish his first Tour just two days short of Paris.
The overall contenders played it safe. There were no attacks like on Stage 16 when Alberto Contador pushed Chris Froome to the limit. As a result, everyone else made it safely to the finish line. There was no change in the top five riders.
Froome was happy to have the day behind him. “Personally, a sigh of relief after today but it was always to be a day I was sort of quite cautious of, thinking that today it could really kick off. So to have got to the finish without any losses and, despite the weather being quite wet and tricky towards the end, I’m pretty happy to have that behind me now.
“It looked quite controlled but I can tell you everyone’s legs were hurting out there at the end. I think, especially after yesterday’s stage, quite a few people were feeling it.
“Tomorrow’s stage is just 125 kilometers but it’s going to be a full-on race – that’s what I’m expecting anyway. We’ve just got to stay on it, keep doing what we’ve done all the way through this Tour and see it all the way until tomorrow evening.”
The current standings with one mountain stage remaining:
Chris Froome, Sky Racing Team: 77 hours, 10 minutes
Alberto Contador, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 5 minutes, 11 seconds behind
Nairo Qunitana Rojas, Movistar, 5 minutes 32 seconds behind
Roman Kreuziger, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 5 minutes, 44 seconds behind
Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha, 5 minutes, 58 seconds behind
Bauke Mollema, Belkin, 8 minutes, 58 seconds behind
Jakob Fuglsang, Astana, 9 minutes, 33 seconds behind
David Navarrow, Cofidis, 12 minutes, 33 seconds behind
Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, 14 minutes, 56 seconds behind
American rider Andrew Talansky of Garmin Sharp sits in 12th place, the highest placed American and a good result for his first Tour effort.
Saturday’s Stage 20 is a short but challenging circular route with numerous Category 3 climbs and a Beyond Category summit climb of just over six miles at the end. It’s the last chance for most riders to score a stage win in the Tour’s 100th anniversary year.
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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