Stage 14 of the 2013 Tour de France is a rolling transition stage that promises plenty of attacking riding, and could present an opportunity for the big sprinters’ teams to be caught out of position. Join us for live updates from 9.30pm AEST.
After the unexpected mayhem of stage 13, with the field split apart thanks to crosswinds and the hard work of first Omega Pharma-Quickstep, and then Saxo-Tinkoff, it’s worth exercising some caution when it comes to making predictions.
Team Sky’s evident vulnerability has their rivals sniffing blood in the water, and it’s likely that the racing will be aggressive once again. Many of the main contenders may wish to save their legs for Sunday’s epic stage on Mont Ventoux, but there are enough teams who will see this stage as an opportunity to further soften up Sky’s depleted squad before the race battles the ‘Giant of Provence’.
Race leader Chris Froome lost 1:09 to his rivals Alberto Contador, Roman Kreuziger, Bauke Mollema, Laurens Ten Dam, and Jakob Fuglsang yesterday.
Fortunately for Froome, the hapless Alejandro Valverde fared even worse, dropping over 9 minutes and plummeting down the general classification after suffering a mechanical incident just as the hammer was dropped.
Of course, a rolling stage with five category 4 and two category 3 climbs presents a golden opportunity for teams with no overall hopes.
Look out for Orica-GreenEDGE to put a man in the break (Matt White hinted earlier in the week that he had something big planned for Cameron Meyer), and I wouldn’t be surprised if Garmin-Sharp had another dig with Ryder Hesjedal or Andrew Talansky.
The ever-present Europcar may also fancy some more TV time, and putting a rider in a break to mop up the king of the mountains points scattered throughout the stage would help protect Pierre Rolland’s polka dot jersey.
Of course, the finish is dead flat, perfect for those few ‘sprinters who can climb’ if they can keep things together over the three small hills placed in the last 30km.
Can Peter Sagan double his collection of stage wins? Can Argos-Shimano’s John Degenkolb continue his team’s great Tour? Is Philippe Gilbert finally ready to show some form? Can Matt Goss finally get something to go his way?
The stage takes us through wine country tonight, so pour yourself something nice, and join us for live updates from 10.00pm AEST.