Stage 14 Saint-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon 191km
As soon as we saw this stage profile we just thought this is one angry stage. It will slap the riders around till the toughest man is left standing. Suggest you circle this one in the TV Week.
If there was ever a day for a break to stick it was on today's stage from Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon. After the wind-blown feralfest of S13 and the S15 Ventoux sitting ominously on the horizon, the S14 would be perfect for an 'unofficial rest day'.
Plenty of lumps on the stage today and perfect for the rouleurs to open up the legs on their terms. And so it was, with 3 riders going early before the group swelled to 18 riders at the 40km mark. The group had some quality legs in it including Bak, Burghardt, Van Garderen, Bakelants, Voigt, Vichot, Kadri, Brutt, Rojas, Trentin, Millar, Talansky and Albasini. This was one that might finally stay away for the day.
And there were no arguments from the peloton apart from Lampre and Euskatel, who unfortunately aren’t in the same league as Quick Step, Belkin et al in the bus driving stakes and struggled to keep the break in check. After an hour of toiling Sky took over affairs at the front and following some false tempo the gap started moving upwards.
In all of this Cunego and Hoogerland tried a delayed attack to get across to the break. WTF were they serious?? They must either have felt really bad about their Tour so far or got a rev-up from the DS on the radio.
One of the most enjoyable things to watch is a large break coming into the finish of the race. The race takes on the form of many of the road races in Australia: 15-20 riders with maybe a teammate or two. Hence – we can see ourselves in the race, envisioning what will happen next and acknowledging with admiration when the winner has done so with mind and legs.
And so, with 25km to go the fireworks in the break started. Albasini started it with Millar quickly countering once he was bought back. From there to the Cat 4 at the 16km mark it was a whole lot of tentative rolling, chatting and nervous looking back.
Once we hit the climb Bakelandts attacked but was bought back again. However Millar was dropped taking the advantage away from Talansky. Then Simon attacked, a rather muted attack, but an attack nonetheless and soon he had time up his sleeves.
And then the break just sat up, no one wanted to chase. Simon soon had 20 seconds and this spurred Kadri, some serious class, to try and bridge across. If he got there it was game over for the rest of the break.
On the final climb Simon had 25 seconds and the French fans by the road were absolutely losing it. Could they actually win a stage at this Tour? Back in the break Kadri had been bought back and riders were continuously countering each other rather than working together.
With 7km to go Simon had 15 seconds. It was going to go to the wire! The break had started working but once the attacks started again it broke it up and gave Simon the buffer he needed.
With 5km to go Van Garderen and Kadri got off the front and were working but once they were caught the games started again! The break had had their chances and now you sensed that Simon deserved the win. “WHO DARES WINS!” and Simon had dared.
Heartbreakingly, with 1km to go Albasini managed to bridge to Simon with Geschke and Burghardt also getting on with about 800m to go. Then Bakelandts reached the leaders and as the rest of the break were about to make contact Bakelandts took the offensive and went to the right. Albasini got across to Bakelandts and then opened up the sprint and quickly got a good gap. A winning gap. Coming into the final 50m though you could see his goose was cooked and Trentin came through at the last moment to take the stage! Another amazing stage with some scintillating racing in the last 30km. Amazingly this was the first win by an Italian at the Tour in 3 years!