Tour de France Stage 13: Mark Cavendish takes stage, Chris Froome loses more than a minute to GC rivals

Contador and Mollema pick up time on Froome, Valverde plummets down overall standings following thrilling stage

by Simon_MacMichael   July 12, 2013  

Tour de France 100 logo

Crosswinds wreaked havoc on the Tour de France today as the race moved across the centre of the country, with the peloton blown into pieces on a day more reminiscent of a Spring Classic than one that on paper looked like being a nailed-on bunch sprint finish. Mark Cavendish took his 25th career stage win, outsprinting Cannondale's Peter Sagan, but otherwise, the script was torn up.

Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team forced the initial split 110 kilometres out, and he was in a front group of just 14 riders that formed a little more than 30 kilometres from the finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond - a group, crucially, that was missing race leader Chris Froome, who loses a minute and a quarter, and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, second overall this morning, who shipped nearly ten minutes to his rivals and plummets down the overall standings.

That move from 30 kilometres out was instigated by Alberto Contador's Saxo-Tinkoff team putting the hammer down as crosswinds came into play once again. The Spaniard, alongside Belkin's Bauke Mollema are the day's two winners on GC; both close the gap on Froome, who came home in a second group.

The absence of Edvald Boasson Hagen and Vasil Kiryienka plus Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas both carrying injuries, seemed to cost Froome dear today and will give renewed heart to his rivals as the race heads towards Mont Ventoux on Sunday then the Alps next week.

The two teams that in General Classification terms were the chief animateurs today - Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin - have extra cause for celebration tonight, as well as additional motivation to put Froome under more pressure in the days ahead, since both have two riders now in the top five; Saxo-Tinkoff, besides having Contador in third place now, also has Roman Kreuzigeur in fourth, while Belkin have Mollema in second place and Laurens Ten Dam, also in that front group, fifth.

The big loser today is undoubtedly Valverde, the Spaniard suffering a mechanical problem with 86 kilometres still to ride and plummets down the overall standings after losing several minutes, Belkin having joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the front of the main group as soon as they sensed that Valverde was in trouble.

The day's combativity award usually goes to an individual rider, but on what was perhaps the most thrilling stage of the 100th edition of the Tour to date, it has been awarded, justfiably, to the entire Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.

Each of the two pivotal moments of today’s stage – the initial move by Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and that later one by Saxo-Tinkoff – were the result of snap decisions taken by the riders themselves on the road.

Cavendish revealed afterwards that aware that Kittel was in a poor position in the peloton, his team mates, led by Gert Steegmans, pushed ahead, others including world time trial champion Tony Martin and French national time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel digging deep to keep the tempo high.

Yet with 50 kilometres left of the 173 kilometre stage from Tours, it seemed as though the group containing three-time stage winner Kittel and, now, Valverde, would manage to get back on; they had reduced the deficit to around 40 seconds.

Once again, however, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Belkin combined forces to grow the gap further, and over the course of the next 10 kilometres or so it became obvious that Kittel would not be rejoining that front group, and that Valverde would not only lose his podium position, but risked falling out of the top ten altogether.

While Movistar seem aggrieved this evening that heir team leader’s woes today had their origin in a mechanical problem and maintain that rival outfits should not have sought to exploit Valverde’s problems, the bare fact is that memories in the peloton are long, and the Spanish outfit itself has not held back from seeking to press home any perceived advantage in similar circumstances in the past.

The later move by Saxo-Tinkoff also resulted from a split-second decision, team members including Michael Rogers and Nicolas Roche consulting with Contador as they realised Froome had drifted back and immediately deciding to go on the offensive.

Cavendish, plus team mate Chavanel, just about made the group; so too did Belkin’s pair of GC hopefuls, Mollema and Ten Dam, but it was Saxo-Tinkoff that had the numbers - Contador, Kreuziguer, Roche, Rogers and Daniele Bennati - and they pressed home their advantage ruthlessly.

Froome, of course, still has a solid lead in the overall standings, but it’s one that looks much more slender this evening with those big mountain stages looming into view.

Moreover, the injuries that have ravaged Team Sky mean that rival teams will smell blood and seek to isolate the yellow jersey and then press home their advantage; if Sir Bradley Wiggins’ progress to the top step of the podium 12 months ago was stately, Froome’s quest to succeed him will be anything but.

Yesterday, following the crash that ruled colleague Edvald Boasson Hagen out of the rest of the race, Froome had warned of the need to remain vigilant; today, on a stage that had “transitional” marked all over it and should have been one for the yellow jersey to come home safely in the bunch, he paid the price for missing that final split.

Whether he will come to rue that in Paris a week on Sunday remains to be seen; today, however, saw what many are calling one of the most thrilling stages of the Tour de France in years, and one that entirely befits the 100th edition of the race.

If you’re near a television this evening, don’t miss the highlights.

Tomorrow's Stage 14 on paper looks like one where a break may stay away as it heads over seven categorised climbs - five of them Category 4, the other two Category 3; today's events underline however that this is perhaps becoming one of the more unpredictable editions of the race in recent years, and more fireworks can be expected.

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Yup, catch the highlights of this thriller tonight if you can but have to say that watching the 'live but hideously truncated with adverts' ITV transmission this afternoon one thinks that the commentators sound as often as not to be out of synch with the pictures I'm seeing.

Mind you yesterday they confidently identified a fruit orchard as a vineyard so praps one should keep on pinching into that imaginary sack of salt by the sofa....

cheers m'dears

2011 Rose Pro-SL 3000 Road
2006 Lemond Alpe d'Huez Broken
1997 Marin Sausaulito Urban bimbling/shopper
1980 Orbea project

daviddb's picture

posted by daviddb [123 posts]
12th July 2013 - 16:45

2 Likes

Sounds like Froome was in the wrong place at the wrong time and found out the hard way. Got to hand it to Bertie for his opportunism, but God I hope he doesn't win - I can't stand unrepentant 'steak eaters' Devil Beginning to think it would be great if an unfancied outsider like Mollema won - now that would really be something...

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [220 posts]
12th July 2013 - 17:34

2 Likes

AND they say froomey has some race savvy, it must have been left on the bus, i'd love to see the sky guys win but it looks as if they are sucking the hind tit at present.. Confused

posted by PATMAC [22 posts]
12th July 2013 - 17:42

2 Likes

Bertie had to give it a go because he knows he cant compete with Froome in tt or in the mountains.

Its going to be an interesting day on Sunday to see if Mollema can do anything but i think Froome will take more time out of them all.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
12th July 2013 - 17:44

3 Likes

A day to expose the weakness of Brailsford's approach to the numbers. You take Bernie to the Tour for his head as well as his legs. This wouldn't have happened today if Eisel had been there and Froome has learnt a lesson the hard way.

Exercising my rights by taking them cycling

posted by pedalingparamedic [88 posts]
12th July 2013 - 17:56

2 Likes

For all those haters out there who didn't like the sky train on the front of the peloton this is what happens when they don't.

Steak eaters or not there was some good decisions made by Froomes rivals today but it was OPQS who set the whole situation up. and Froome should have been savvy to what was happening like he was last Sunday but maybe the lack of support is starting to show. OPQS had people in the chase bunch and i bet they were disrupting things also. they certainly deserved todays combatively prize. How much are Saxo going pay tomorrow for that move though is the question?

posted by Nzlucas [106 posts]
12th July 2013 - 18:32

3 Likes

Nicolas Roches'Irish Independent diary for today will make interesting reading.

This is the last one he posted:

http://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/cycling/nicolas-roche-i-saw...

Blackhound's picture

posted by Blackhound [449 posts]
12th July 2013 - 18:37

1 Like

It'll be a travesty if Froome wins - he's no bike racer, as proved today. But Sky's money can afford the best ......... (insert word, according to your view of Team Sky), so a Froome win is a certainty as long as he stays upright (something he could hardly do 5 years ago!).

I'm hoping Quintana can edge is way onto the podium (now Valverde has lost so much time, his team may back him more) - future Tour winner I reckon.

posted by daddyELVIS [453 posts]
12th July 2013 - 20:05

2 Likes

CAV? In a breakaway?
That's nearly as ridiculous as Wiggins winning a bunch sprint!

Oh..... wait a minute...... that was last year, you say?

Whatever next?

Chris D

posted by wingsofspeed68 [51 posts]
12th July 2013 - 20:21

1 Like

Today proved he's no certainty, however as you say if he stay's on his bike i cant see anyone living with his climbing except Quintana who will be Movistar's no 1 now that Valverde has no chance.

Even then though Quintana needs nearly 6 mins to overhaul Froome.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
12th July 2013 - 20:26

2 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
It'll be a travesty if Froome wins - he's no bike racer, as proved today. But Sky's money can afford the best ......... .

I think thats a bit cynical daddyELVIS. I am pretty sure that he was racing last Saturday and Sunday.

Also BMC, OPQS, Katusha all have alot of money also. Rogers was a main component of todays problems for Sky and if money was the end all be all he would still be there with them not causing problems for them. Sky have a young team in general terms and if you see Ian Stannard going out the back of the group you can bet that they gave it crack and didn't fold easily.
its going to be a great with them heading into some hills, and if Froome wins, then I for one will celebrate.

posted by Nzlucas [106 posts]
12th July 2013 - 20:35

4 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
It'll be a travesty if Froome wins - he's no bike racer, as proved today.

Dear me, I wonder where people get such bombastic and contrary to reality opinions. Chris Froome is quite definitely a bike racer, I saw him in one today; I have seen him winning a number of bike races. If you think he could have been 1% more tactically astute say that, don't just trot out the usual internet BS.



I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1396 posts]
12th July 2013 - 20:40

2 Likes

Still, there's one positive to today - Valverde is toast, so that's all good.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [220 posts]
12th July 2013 - 21:17

2 Likes

The commentators on the highlights kept going on about Richie Porte but without elaborating. Was he caught out and ended up in a different group from Froome?

Sky have had a bit of bad luck but as a team they lok nothing like last year's well-oiled machine.

posted by paulfg42 [379 posts]
12th July 2013 - 21:41

2 Likes

This is turning into a beaut of a Tour. Froome looks nervous on the podium at the moment and you can sure as hell see why.

Today was certainly opportunistic, but Contador's team are pretty well prepared for these conditions. Does anyone remember last year with Movistar distanced in the Vuelta.

I bet he and team Sky were looking for a quiet couple of days before Sunday. Tomorrow will be an interesting one too. But I think a proper breakaway will get it with the GC contenders conserving themselves for the big climb Sunday.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1187 posts]
12th July 2013 - 21:41

3 Likes

Nzlucas wrote:
daddyELVIS wrote:
It'll be a travesty if Froome wins - he's no bike racer, as proved today. But Sky's money can afford the best ......... .

I think thats a bit cynical daddyELVIS. I am pretty sure that he was racing last Saturday and Sunday.

Also BMC, OPQS, Katusha all have alot of money also. Rogers was a main component of todays problems for Sky and if money was the end all be all he would still be there with them not causing problems for them. Sky have a young team in general terms and if you see Ian Stannard going out the back of the group you can bet that they gave it crack and didn't fold easily.
its going to be a great with them heading into some hills, and if Froome wins, then I for one will celebrate.

Anybody an expert in body language? - get past the BS and skip to 5.00 minutes into this video. What do you think?
http://youtu.be/CVROhTHxWP8

posted by daddyELVIS [453 posts]
12th July 2013 - 22:14

2 Likes

This is really an interesting tour. Froome was caught with his pants down! dont understand why he didnt take the initiative and carried on following the back wheel of cav to rejoin the front group.(Well spotted Cav!) it was obvious what was going to happen as there were many gc contenders in that front group. perhaps he has plans in the mountain stages? cant wait for sundays stage!

peasantpigfarmer

posted by peasantpigfarmer [46 posts]
12th July 2013 - 22:49

2 Likes

As soon as I saw the make up of that front group it was clear to me that they'd stay away....Cav took the opportunity well and Froome missed it(I think he and Kwiatkowski were the next in the queue after Cav when it split).

Naivety? Perhaps but then you have to aim that at undoubtedly savvy riders like Evans and Zubeldia too then?

posted by ray silvester [1858 posts]
13th July 2013 - 7:53

1 Like