SAN DIEGO, July 6, 2013 – The first mountain stage of the 2013 Tour de France provided the first big test of the race this year. Chris Froome of Sky Pro Racing showed the field he is the one to beat with a crushing victory over his top rivals.
Froome crossed the finish line 51 seconds ahead of teammate Richie Porte, and well ahead of Alberto Contador of Team Saxo-Tinkoff, Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen of BMC Racing, Andy Schleck of RadioShack Leopard Trek and Nairo Quintana of Movistar. Contador is now 1:51 behind Froome, Schleck trails by four minutes and 2011 Tour winner Evans is 4:36 back. Quntana is 2:02 behind and has a real chance at a podium finish.
American rookie Andrew Talansky sits in 12th place, 2:48 behind Froome. He is the highest placed American rider in his first Tour, an admirable result so far.
“I wasn’t expecting that much for today,” Froome said. “The time gaps were so big, that’s quite something.”
Stage 8 gave the riders a long, flat route before hitting them with two mountain climbs back to back at the end. Several riders jumped ahead in a breakaway, but it was meaningless when the climbs began. On the first climb, Colombian rider Quintana jumped ahead. Froome’s team members led by Porte started reeling both back in, allowing Froome to gain ground back.
The other contenders could not match the pace. Scheck, Evans, and Rolland were dropped first. Then Contador, an extremely strong climber expected to challenge Froome, could not stay with Porte.
When Froome saw that Contador was fading, he made his attack and blew past the field as if they were on flat ground. He overtook Quintana with ease, and then accelerated away from his teammate Porte, who had done his job for the day.
In the last mile, Froome went ahead by himself, crossing the finish line and celebrating his stage win with enthusiasm.
“I have to thank the team today. They did a great job and got me to the final climb, they are the ones who got me there,” Froome said. “To be sitting here in the yellow jersey of the Tour de France is something I only dreamed of, so to be in that position… well, I couldn’t ask for more. It feels very special.
“I was expecting more of a fight in the final today so I was quite surprised how we were able to come away with first and second and with the sort of time gaps that we see to the other GC riders. It’s a long way from over but we can definitely take a lot away from today.”
Froome complimented his young rival Quintana for his efforts. “Everyone knows that Quintana is very strong in the mountains and when he attacked in the first climb it was hard to catch him.”
Quintana, 23, said “For this first mountain stage, I’m happy with my feelings. My legs were good, and I put them to good use with an attack. I thought about it – the stage win – for a moment. But I missed a bit of strength at the end and the Sky team is very strong, with Chris Froome and Richie Porte. It is not a big drama for me to miss out today as it’s my first Tour de France and I’m here to learn.”
For his efforts today, Quintana wins the white jersey for the best young rider. Pierre Roland took back the King of the Mountains jersey. Peter Sagan picked up today’s sprint win and retains the sprinters green jersey. Thanks in large part to Quintana, Movistar now holds the team lead.
Sunday’s Stage 9 remains in the mountains with four Category 1 climbs and a Category 2 tossed in, ending with a long steep descent that will test riders on this relatively short stage. We will see what riders have left in the tank. Contenders will continue to distinguish themselves. This is nowhere to make a mistake or be dropped off the back of the peloton. No matter the standings at the finish, everyone will be glad to have a rest day on Monday.
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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