Tour de France Diary, Stage 13: Greipel wins on Bastille Day
Bastille Day saw the return of flat terrain to the 99th Tour de France, as riders made their way from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d’Agde.
Only one categorised climb dotted the stage 13 map – a short but steep ascent up Mont Saint-Clair (category three, 10.6%) with 23km remaining.
Put simply, the 217km transitional stage was well suited to the sprinters.
Unfazed, Australian overall hope Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was willing to test that theory with a bold but ultimately unsuccessful attack on the climb.
Evans and his BMC teammates used the long coastal roads of southern France to set up the acceleration.
By moving to the front of the main field and lifting the pace, the team in red and black heightened the effect of the powerful crosswinds blowing off the ocean. Cracks quickly opened up, creating a front peloton of only 30-40 riders.
Although every member of the top 10 overall made it into the front selection, several big names were dropped, including: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step), former white jersey holder Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and yesterday’s stage winner David Millar (Garmin-Sharp).
Yellow jersey wearer Bradley Wiggins (Sky Pro Cycling) was not close to being caught out.
Having initiated the split, BMC then launched Evans on the Mont Saint-Clair but Wiggins was more than up to the task of bridging the small gap that opened up.
The move showed that Evans has by no means given up on winning this year’s Tour. He remains fourth overall, 3’19” behind the yellow jersey of Wiggins.
The BMC surge put some of the sprinters, including Sky’s Mark Cavendish, into difficulty, which prompted Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) and Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) to jump off the front with 16km left.
One fast man that stayed in close contact was eventual stage winner Andre Greipel, who pipped green jersey holder Peter Sagan at the finish.
Greipel benefited from the strength of his enviable Lotto-Belisol train, whose chase and catch of Vinokourov and Albasini, both strong riders, was something to behold.
Crosswinds again caused havoc in the last 4km, but the depleted peloton regrouped for the finish after a short-lived attack by Rabobank’s Luis Leon Sanchez.
Impressively, it was Wiggins who caught Sanchez with a remarkable turn of speed before leading out Edvald Boasson Hagen, who claimed third.
Earlier, the advantage of the main eight-man escape group, which included breakaway artiste Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank), peaked at around nine minutes.
Morkov attacked from the break and was the lone man up the road for a significant portion of the stage. Desperately fatigued, the Swede was caught by Evans and crew on Mont Saint-Clair.
Orica-GreenEDGE did much of the work at the head of affairs, pegging back the splintered front group in the interests of Australian sprinter Matt Goss.
It was an aggressive approach indicating Goss’ desire to earn back some of the points he lost for interfering with Sagan in the sprint for sixth on stage 12.
Unfortunately for the Tasmanian, he severely misjudged the intermediate sprint at Mas-de-Londres and was beaten to the checkpoint by Sagan and Greipel.
121st on the stage, almost an hour and a half back, Goss slid down to third in the battle for green and is now well out of contention.
Tomorrow the riders travel 191km from Limoux to Foix, a medium mountain stage with a technical final descent and tight roads leading to the finish.
Cadel Evans must look to put Team Sky under pressure on the descent.
If he does not do so, Vincenzo Nibali will.
Tour de France Stage 12 Results
Rider, Team, Points
1. GREIPEL Andre, LOTTO-BELISOL, 04h 57′ 59″
2. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
3. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
4. HINAULT Sebastien, AG2R LA MONDIALE, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
5. IMPEY Daryl, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
6. SIMON Julien, SAUR-SOJASUN, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
7. MARCATO Marco, VACANSOLEIS-DCM, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
8. GILBERT Philippe, BMC RACING, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
9. VELITS Peter, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
10. HONDO Danilo, LAMPRE-ISD, 04h 57′ 59″ + 00′ 00″
Tour de France Points Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. SAGAN Peter, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 296
2. GREIPEL Andre, LOTTO-BELISOL, 232
3. GOSS Matthew Harley, ORICA-GREENEDGE, 203
4. CAVENDISH Mark, SKY PRO CYCLING, 129
5. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald, SKY PRO CYCLING, 125
Tour de France KOM Classification
Rider, Team, Points
1. KESSIAKOFF Fredrik, ASTANA, 66
2. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 55
3. SORENSEN Chris Anker, SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK, 39
Tour de France Overall Standings
Rider, Team, Time, Gaps
1. WIGGINS Bradley, SKY PROCYCLING, 59h 32’ 32″
2. FROOME Christopher, SKY PRO CYCLING, 59h 34’ 37″ + 02′ 05″
3. NIBALI Vincenzo, LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE, 59h 34’ 55″ + 02′ 23″
4. EVANS Cadel, BMC RACING, 59h 35’ 51″ + 03′ 19″
5. VAN DEN BROEK Jurgen, OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK-STEP, 59h 37’ 20″ + 04′ 48″
6. ZUBELDIA Haimar, RADIOSHACK-NISSAN, 59h 38’ 47″ + 06′ 15″
7. VAN GADREREN Tejay, BMC RACING, 59h 39’ 29″ + 06′ 57″
8. BRAJKOVIC Janez, ASTANA, 59h 40’ 02″ + 07′ 30″
9. ROLLAND Pierre, EUROPCAR, 59h 41’ 03″ + 08′ 31″
10. PINOT Thibaut, FDJ-BIG MAT, 59h 41’ 23″ + 08′ 51″
Stage 13 “Give Him the Game Ball” Award: Lotto-Belisol sprint train – for outstanding services to stage winner Andre “The German Bullet” Greipel in the final 10km.
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