Stage 13 Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond 173
THE SKY IS FALLING.
ED NOTE: HOLYFVCKING SHIT BALLZ OF A RACE. If you missed it last night, you missed the best stage ever in TdF's 100 ans history. I don't care if it was your wedding anniversary - seriously, who gets married in the month of TdF - this stage should've been labelled STAGE POTA, #13 lucky for some.
Now read the rest from WOODROW below.
Another stage from a area that dropped a bucket-load of cash to have a couple of stages swing through their region on the way to the mountains. You could call it a transitional stage but really this was all about honouring the great Le Blaireau. He probably paid the ASO to have the stage run through his hometown.. and why wouldn’t you?
Again the break went extremely early. This time to the suspects were Gene (Europcar), Perez (Euskaltel), Mate (Cofidis), Niemiec (Lampre Merida), Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Lemoine (Sojasun) and they quickly got a good gap, heading out to 3:30 within 40km.
At VT HQ we thought that might be it until the end and while we were fluffing about all mayhem hit the peloton. Quick Step went to the front and caught the field out, with echelons forming across the road. It was carnage out the back: Voeckler, Cunego and Hesjedal were the first big causalities. And then the big fish….Kittel had been pumped out the back!!! Perfect work by Quick Step.
There was further confusion when a fragment of the main group that latched back onto the bus was thought to have contained Kittel, but actually didn’t.
Soon the Kittel group was 1:30 back and it was GOOD NIGHT NURSE. Of course Voeckler was further out the back. If he isn’t gunning off the front he is doing SFA out the back.
As a result the break was doomed and with 90 odd km left it was gobbled up. The Kittel group was now only a minute back and the battle was on. Add to this Valverde getting distanced due to a mechanical after the feed zone and quickly being 30 seconds down. It was ON.
5km later and Valverde et al were making no headway into the gap. The Kittel group were catching from behind and the smart thinking was to share the load with the greater force. Great concept, rubbish implementation. 15km later and the gap was sitting at 1:30 minutes and showing no sign of dropping.
After ANDRE took the intermediate sprint there was jibba jabba about the front group easing up. Absolutely no chance: Belkin, Quickstep et al just kept mashing the pedals.
With 45km to go the race was absolutely blown apart. The Valverde group was imploding due to the speed and riders were being shed from a front group rolling at an insane pace, including Flecha, Porte and Steegmans. At one stage it looked like Chavanel was asking Tony Martin if he wanted to pull it back. The shake of the head showed that DER PANZERWAGEN wanted to cause the peloton the same pain inflicted on him earlier in the race. Soon the chase group was over 2 minutes out and they were done for the day.
And when you thought nothing else could happen, Saxo Tinkoff attacked the tiring group and quickly got a gap, putting Froome under the pump. Cavendish, Sagan, Mollema and Ten Dam all got across, instantly removing Quick Step and Belkin from the chase calculations. The composition of the break seemed too good to be true and surely some conversations between select team cars had occurred just prior to the attack.
The stage was now poised. Froome had allies in Lotto and Katusha but had lost the engine rooms of Quick Step and Belkin. Saxo only had 5 riders but one goal. It was now beginning to become apparent that the once indestructible monolith of Sky
was cracking at the seams and the gap began to balloon out to 45 seconds. Tosatto was rolling like a wild man with Contador doing more than his fair share of work.
As Saxo hit the final climb with 7km to go and the gap went out to over a minute, Froome was isolated in the chase group. His Gaulic nightmare had come true, the Sky had fallen.
Coming into a km to go and Terpstra attacked forcing Sagan to chase. Sagan closed the gap and Terpstra drove it to the final 400m. Sagan always knew he was going to hit the wind too early. When Terpstra pulled off Sagan sat up for an instant and Cavendish, who was on his wheel, went immediately. Sagan latched on but didn’t have it to come over the top and Cavendish took the win, answering the questions asked of him following yesterday’s stage.
An amazing stage today! For something that started off as another roll across the country it exploded an hour into the race and decimated the peloton. Valverde lost almost 10 minutes and there were plenty of other GC contenders who saw their dreams extinguished for this year’s Tour. The race average was 47.2kph which is just feral. AWESOME!!!!