Tour de France Stage 8: Sky blow race apart as Chris Froome takes yellow jersey and Richie Porte goes 2nd

Froome attacks from 5km out as Sky's teamwork destroys rivals, Contador loses nearly two minutes

by Simon_MacMichael   July 6, 2013  

Tour de France 100 logo

Chris Froome has taken a huge step towards succeeding Sir Bradley Wiggins as Tour de France champion on the first mountain stage of this year's race at Ax 3 Domaines, winning at a canter with team mate Richie Porte second after Team Sky blew the opposition apart in the Pyrenees.

It's the second year running that Froome has won on a stage on the second Saturday of the Tour - last year, he won at La Planche des Belles Filles, on a day when Wiggins rode into the yellow jersey he would keep all the way to Paris. Tonight, it's Froome who is in the maillot jaune.

Porte finished a little shy of a minute down on his team leader at the end of the 195km stage from Castres, with Alejandro Valverde a further 15 seconds back in third place. Some potential pre race rivals lost huge time to Froome, with Alberto Contador coming home the best part of two minutes down.

Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, identified by Chris Froome as one of his biggest potential rivals for the yellow jersey, hit that final climb with an advantage of just 30 seconds over a GC group of no more than 25 riders, with Europcar’s Pierre Rolland in between the Colombian and the pursuing riders.

The chase was being led by Team Sky, but by this point Froome had just two men to help him, Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte, as they headed through the spa town of Ax-les-Thermes to begin that final ascent, covering 7.8 kilometres with the gradient averaging 8.2 per cent.

The pace Quintana was setting up front on his own, and that being set at the front of the chasing group by Kennuagh, winner of team pursuit gold at the London Olympics last year, put a number of big names in trouble.

When Porte took over from his younger team mate on the final climb, a number of Sky's big rivals were already suffering and got distanced, among them former Tour de France champions Andy Schleck of RadioShack-Leopard and BMC Racing’s Cadel Evans, who would lose 4 minutes.

The latter’s team mate Tejay van Garderen, winner of the white jersey as best young rider last year, was also dropped and lost nearly a quarter of an hour. Also left behind was the man who headed the young rider classification this morning, Michal Kwiatowski of Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

Others pinging off the back included the Garmin-Sharp pairing of Dan Martin and Andrew Talansky, as well as another man seen as a potential challenger for the overall, Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez.

With 5 kilometres of the climb left, just five riders were left from that group as they caught Quintana – Froome, Porte, Valverde, Contador and his Saxo-Tinkoff team mate, Roman Kreuziger.

Immediately, Froome went on what would be a decisive attack to win the stage and take the maillot jaune.

It’s early days, and there are plenty of mountain stages still to come – Contador is said to be aiming to peak in the final week in the Alps – but even this early, the race looks like Sky’s to lose.

The stage had begun with four riders getting clear of the peloton to form a break that would have an advantage of around 9 minutes at one point but one by one would fall back on the huge climb of the Port de Pailhères, 15.3 kilometres of climbing at an average gradient of 8 per cent.

Besides new Dutch national champion Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil-DCM, the quartet comprised Christophe Riblon of AG2R La Mondiale – looking to repeat his victory in Ax 3 Domaines three years ago – plus Sojasun’s Jean-Marc Marino and the Cofidis rider, Rudy Molard.

That climb of the Port de Pailhères officially began 45 kilometres from the finish, but the road had begun to rise even before the intermediate sprint at Quillan, 37 kilometres earlier.

There, André Greipel of Lotto-Belisol pipped yesterday’s stage winner Peter Sagan of Cannondale to take fifth place, but the Slovak still has a commanding lead of 93 points in the standings for the green jersey.

Meanwhile, despite the certainty that Daryl Impey would not be in the yellow jersey this evening, his Orica GreenEdge team spent much of the day controlling the pace at the front of the main group ahead of those two big climbs towards the end of the stage.

On the Port de Pailhères itself, first Belkin’s Robert Gesink, then Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler launched attacks, as would Euskaltel’s Mikel Nieve, but it was Quintana who made the one that stuck.

The 23-year-old, who now takes the white jersey, caught and passed Riblon the last man standing from the break and took the Souvenir Henri Desgrange prize for being the first rider over the highest point of this year’s race.

Behind, Rolland had made his move. The double points on offer at the summit finish mean it’s Froome who now leads the mountains classification, but Rolland did enough to ensure he’s second, meaning he’ll have another chance tomorrow to get out his polka dot ensemble – including shorts and bike to match the jersey – by virtue of Froome wearing the maillot jaune.

That stage tomorrow, the second and final day in the Pyrenees, covers 168.5km from Saint-Girons to Bagnères de Bigorre and features five big climbs – significantly, however, there’s no summit finish.

It provides the first opportunity for the teams whose GC ambitions were thrown into chaos by Sky to today to start providing a response, and it’s certain there will be a lot of reflection on this afternoon’s events in the hotels of the likes of BMC Racing, Movistar and Saxo-Tinkoff this evening.

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

So much for Sky not being at the races according to some on the forum. Humble pie time Big Grin

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2696 posts]
6th July 2013 - 18:18

like this
Like (3)

Frome = ZOOM boy that was impressive, looks like Sky are going to dominate the GC again
Big Grin

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [207 posts]
6th July 2013 - 19:26

like this
Like (6)

Despite being described as "a robot pushing a shopping trolley" Froome showed his class today.

Bertie looked in big trouble - best get himself down the butchers sharpish!

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [143 posts]
6th July 2013 - 20:09

like this
Like (4)

Get in there Froomey. All the idiots that talk down Froome not being a team player last year, watch this stage and you guys will realise that Froome is a very talented climber and can break anyone in the mountains. Well done also to Richie Porte for the pacing fighting off everybody to come second. All this mention about cycling being a team sport, more credit should be given to the individuals who put up a fight. e.g. Quintana who tried to break sky as the other teams/riders just followed Team Sky's wheel. Lets hope Froome and Team Sky can continue this form for the rest of the tour Big Grin

posted by CyclingDan [39 posts]
6th July 2013 - 20:15

like this
Like (3)

In the words of Richie Porte, what was Quintana thinking? He forced a pace that allowed Sky to blow the Tour apart rather than simply take the stage. Maybe he wants a job?

posted by synoptic [8 posts]
6th July 2013 - 21:34

like this
Like (5)

Just like 1999.........

posted by Decster [246 posts]
6th July 2013 - 21:43

like this
Like (4)

Decster wrote:
Just like 1999.........

In what way like 1999? Say what you mean, not post riddles which could be innuendo?

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
6th July 2013 - 22:23

like this
Like (4)

Decster wrote:
Just like 1999.........

Yep, as long as its illegal to ride a bike really quickly. Just make sure you ignore the fact there are no rumours around CF, no questionable history or whispers from former team-mates. No litigation and sociopathic dominance of those around him.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3071 posts]
6th July 2013 - 22:48

like this
Like (2)

notfastenough wrote:
Decster wrote:
Just like 1999.........

Yep, as long as its illegal to ride a bike really quickly. Just make sure you ignore the fact there are no rumours around CF, no questionable history or whispers from former team-mates. No litigation and sociopathic dominance of those around him.

I can't let this one go.

No rumours around CF? LOL, are you serious? If so, which planet do you live on? Even David Walsh has gone all quiet tonight after that ridiculous display from Froome and Team Marginal Gains. They are making a mockery of a sport which I thought was all mocked out. It's just a comedy now, LMAOOOO!!

posted by Doper [35 posts]
7th July 2013 - 0:18

like this
Like (3)

notfastenough wrote:
Decster wrote:
Just like 1999.........

Yep, as long as its illegal to ride a bike really quickly. Just make sure you ignore the fact there are no rumours around CF, no questionable history or whispers from former team-mates. No litigation and sociopathic dominance of those around him.

Froome came out of nowhere, convenient blood disease that only effects him in the off season, not during GTs, worked with doping Doctor Leinders, wont release SRM data, Brailsdford saying that Froome will beat doped performances of the past.......

Nope nothing to see here..............that we have not seen before.

PS. It took 15 years to take down an arrogant loud mouthed Yank doping sociopath. Indurain has managed to keep his wins with his nice guy style. I guess Sky do learn from the past, both of them. Wink

posted by Decster [246 posts]
7th July 2013 - 0:38

like this
Like (4)

No rumours? Wow, I guess you've missed the rumours Sky throughout last years tour and the suggestions about their riders for this tour. They've been fairly prevalent.

I've leaned towards believing Sky were actually clean and did gain their gains by their training and systems in place as they had so much focus on them it seemed suicidal to not be.

But that ride today, at the very least, should have raised an eyebrow.

It's sad that it is that way.

posted by farrell [1388 posts]
7th July 2013 - 0:39

like this
Like (2)

Froome about a minute better than Ten Dam and Mollema (and Kreuziger if he hadn't waited for Contador) doesn't seem that suspicious over very hilly terrain.

Evans hasn't been that great all season. Yes, he had a podium in Italy - behind Sky's reserve GC rider-. He also seems to have had a bit of a stinker yesterday.

Contador hasn't been on form this season, and may still be a bit knocked about from a crash so 1.45 down seems reasonable.

So it's not all that out of the ordinary and not really anything to scream DOPER! about. Though, after this sport's history, I admit, it's necessary to always bear it in mind.

More likely, to my mind, is the Tim kerrison explanation. Relying on doping has left alot of the other teams 10 years behind in their training methods. The edge Froome had over Valverde, another really good climber, could be down to this - plus, lets not forget the possibility, that Froome is just plain better!

posted by ElCynico [16 posts]
7th July 2013 - 3:16

like this
Like (4)

Decster wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
Decster wrote:
Just like 1999.........

Yep, as long as its illegal to ride a bike really quickly. Just make sure you ignore the fact there are no rumours around CF, no questionable history or whispers from former team-mates. No litigation and sociopathic dominance of those around him.

Froome came out of nowhere, convenient blood disease that only effects him in the off season, not during GTs, worked with doping Doctor Leinders, wont release SRM data, Brailsdford saying that Froome will beat doped performances of the past.......

Nope nothing to see here..............that we have not seen before.

PS. It took 15 years to take down an arrogant loud mouthed Yank doping sociopath. Indurain has managed to keep his wins with his nice guy style. I guess Sky do learn from the past, both of them. Wink

Looked pretty miraculous to me, particularly Richie Porte in interviews just after crossing the line looking like he'd just been for a quick spin. Shame it's so hard to believe in miracles now.

Whether he all out destroys the field or soft pedals a bit to try and stop some of the rumours will be interesting!

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
7th July 2013 - 8:02

like this
Like (3)

Walsh finally tweeted last night that he'll be fielding questions at 10.30am today. Might be interesting to follow his twitter feed this morning to see how he explains that performance. If some quick estimates are true, the average Watts per Kilo that Frome knocked out on that final climb were at 'EPO-era' level. Just as suspicious is a team 1 & 2 on a summit finish - when did that last happen (by clean riders)?

posted by daddyELVIS [386 posts]
7th July 2013 - 10:12

like this
Like (6)

jasecd wrote:
Despite being described as "a robot pushing a shopping trolley" Froome showed his class today.

Bertie looked in big trouble - best get himself down the butchers sharpish!

Looks like Froome and Porte, got to the Butchers before him. Kennaugh must have also eaten from the same meal.

A too good to be true day for sky.

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
7th July 2013 - 16:53

like this
Like (5)

doc wrote:
Decster wrote:
Just like 1999.........

In what way like 1999? Say what you mean, not post riddles which could be innuendo?

He could be correct DOC.

Lance Armstrong era style of riding; and didn't the sky trio look fresh after the hardest race day in the TDF

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
7th July 2013 - 17:01

like this
Like (4)