Tour de France Stage 15: Chris Froome smashes rivals to win on Mont Ventoux

Race leader puts big time into rivals again as he attacks on iconic mountain and rides to victory

by Simon_MacMichael   July 14, 2013  

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Forty-six years and one day after the first British rider to lead the Tour de France, Tom Simpson, lost his life on Mont Ventoux, the latest one to wear the yellow jersey, Chris Froome of Team Sky, rode away from his rivals on the same mountain to take a huge step towards ensuring he will keep it all the way to Paris next Sunday.

Having attacked and dropped Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador with around 7 kilometres of the ascent of the mountain nicknamed the Giant of Provence left, Froome bridged across to Movistar's Nairo Quintana, the pair working together until Froome kicked again and dropped the Colombian with a little over a kilometre remaining.

Contador would roll across the line more than a minute and a half after Froome, finishing sixth on the stage and remains third overall. Belkin's Bauke Mollema remains in second position on General Classification, but is now 4 minutes 14 seconds adrift of the race leader, a potentially decisive cushion for Froome ahead of some big mountain stages in the days ahead.

At 242 kilometres, today's stage from Givors was the longest of the 100th edition of the Tour, but the real action was confined to that brutal climb that comprised the final 20.8 kilometres of the stage. Sylvain Chavanel, the last survivor of the day's break, led the race onto it, with Jan Bakelants of RadioShack-Leopard and Mikel Nieve of Euskaltel, who would finish third, attacking off the main bunch and bridging across, the latter immediately finding himself out alone in front.

Behind, big names including past champions Andy Schleck and Cadel Evans were getting dropped from the group containing the overall contenders as first Peter Kennaugh then Richie Porte set a punishing pace on behalf of Froome.

Quintana, who had made his move with 13 kilometres remaining, was out in front on his own by the time Froome made the move that distanced Contador, and while the Colombian was unable to stay with the Team Sky man for the whole climb, he has the consolation of getting back into the white jersey of best young rider.

The pace of those 220 kilometres raced under the sun ahead of the climb of the Ventoux meant that even on the shallower, lower slopes, some riders carrying hopes for a home stage win on Bastille Day were dropped from the main group, including mountains classification leader Pierre Rolland of Europcar – he drops to fourth, with Froome now leading the contest – and FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot, a stage winner last year, but who has been struggling with flu in recent days.

It was a Frenchman, however, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel, who led the race onto the mountain. He had no chance of still being ahead by the top of the climb, but riding alone was greeted by a wave of cheers from the estimated 1 million fans lining the slopes.

The ten-man break that Chavanel, three times victorious in Tour de France stages, had got into early on included a number of French riders looking for glory on the Fête Nationale, including four-time stage winner Pierrick Fedrigo of FDJ, AG2R’s Christophe Riblon, who won a stage in 2010, plus Sojasun’s Julien El Fares and FDJ’s Jeremy Roy. Rolland spent much of the day trying to get across, without success, and would pay for those efforts later.

Also in the group was Cannondale’s Peter Sagan, who took the day’s intermediate sprint at Maulaucène, just 34.5 kilometres from the finish, unopposed – although he drifted back through the group shortly beforehand to ensure that the rest of the men he had spent most of the day riding alongside were on message.

Sagan, winner of the green jersey in the points classification in last year’s race, now has a lead of 99 points over Mark Cavendish, and needs only to stay upright until the finish in Paris to become the first back-to-back winner of the competition since Erik Zabel, who won it six times in succession between 1996 and 2001.

The intermediate sprint, though, was merely a brief distraction from the looming presence of Mont Ventoux. The route had headed due south under bright sunshine from Givors until the village of Bédoin, where it swung round onto the 20.8 kilometre final climb, which has an average gradient of 7.5 per cent but barely dropping below 9 per cent for the final 16 kilometres, the last six played out in a barren landscape above the treeline.

Ahead of the climb of the Ventoux, Sky had moved to the front of the peloton, which up until that point had been controlled by Movistar.

On Friday, the Spanish team’s leader Alejandro Valverde plummeted down the overall standings, but Quintana clearly had his eyes on getting back into the white jersey.

The pace of those 220 kilometres raced under the sun ahead of the climb – the speed of the front group topped 50 kilometres an hour during the second hour of the stage – added to the suffering on the mountain itself, as one by one riders were shed from the group containing the overall contenders.

Sky, already missing Edvald Boasson Hagen and Vasil Kiryienka, saw their numbers further depleted early on as Geraint Thomas, who fractured his pelvis on the opening day on Corsica, Ian Stannard and Spanish climber David Lopez, were tailed off.

Next to go was Kanstantsin Sistou, dropped with a little more than 15 kilometres left, and with Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin, among others, still retaining numerical superiority in the lead group, it appeared that Froome might risk becoming isolated, just as had happened last Sunday in the Pyrenees.

Kennaugh, who had crashed on that stage to Bagnères to Bigorre, and Porte, who had begun that day second overall but cracked and slid out of overall contention, each put in huge turns to keep the riders up ahead in check while simultaneously setting a pace that saw rivals drop out of the group, one by one.

Then there were three; Porte, Froome and Contador, the latter sitting on the wheel of the man in the yellow jersey, as he had done since the start of the ascent.

As the trio caught Nieve, leaving only Quintana further up the road, Froome, looking down at his power meter, made his move shortly ahead of a bend; he went into it with Contador still clinging desperately onto his wheel, and out of it with a decisive margin over the Spaniard.

Once again, Sky had executed a plan to perfection, and as Froome headed towards the top of the mountain, Porte, his job done, beamed with satisfaction at his role in helping his friend and team leader to a stage win that more than offsets the time lost to Contador on Friday, and which ultimately may have sealed the overall win.

32 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

If anyone ruined the day it is Sky with unbelievable performances. Their rider can climb better than anyone and TT to within 12 secs of a world champ like Tony Martin.

Only 1 way to do that. DOPING.

The fans dont dope the riders.

Simon, forum envy?

Says a lot about the state of the sport if fans flock to post in a doping forum.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
14th July 2013 - 15:50

2 Likes

Forum envy? Not at all. I'm all for healthy cynicism (something anyone following cycling needs to develop), but not outright paranoia.

What Brailsford describes as the internet "noise" is now at a crescendo; it's right that questions are being asked, but eg comparing Froome to Armstrong times on Ventoux (to take one example currently being retweeted) without taking into account factors such as wind etc isn't the most helpful thing in the world.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9376 posts]
14th July 2013 - 16:15

2 Likes

Why is it an unbelievable performance then Decster? Because a load of former drugs cheats are getting dropped by a talented rider now that they can't dope like they used to?

posted by Nick T [901 posts]
14th July 2013 - 16:17

4 Likes

Loved the sprint to drop Contador - I was laughing aloud at how ridiculous that was!

posted by daddyELVIS [651 posts]
14th July 2013 - 16:36

4 Likes

What was Armstrong's time? What was Pantani's time?

I think one thing is for certain, Andy Schleck is not on 'performance enhancing' drugs.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1576 posts]
14th July 2013 - 17:18

4 Likes

Which website are we talking about too?

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1576 posts]
14th July 2013 - 17:20

3 Likes

Yes, because AC is a force to be reckoned with after beef gate!

posted by Super Domestique [1686 posts]
14th July 2013 - 17:23

4 Likes

I think Froome and Quintana won this race in their childhood. I hope, but we can never be 100% sure, that they both aren't doping. Looking forward to more battles between them. This isn't over yet. But I think Quintana has to learn to wait a bit before he attacks.

posted by Alan Tullett [1580 posts]
14th July 2013 - 17:33

4 Likes

Quintana to sign for Sky next season, now that would really piss people off.

Apologies for the language Big Grin

They are far and away the best 2 climbers in the race and have dropped previously doped up good climbers who have shown that without the drugs they are just decent cyclists.

Lets hope it shows that drugs wont help you win.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3198 posts]
14th July 2013 - 17:39

4 Likes

Amazing stage, Bertie got dumped.

'Quintana to sign for Sky' brilliant Devil

posted by SuperG [92 posts]
14th July 2013 - 18:19

3 Likes

To those who think Sky are clean, ask yourself this.

Who presided over Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid

Who currently presides over Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid.

Who ran anti doping during Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid.

It was said that it was a 1 in a million chance that Armstrong was not doping during his comeback.

Who runs anti doping now during Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid.

I dont believe Contador, Valverde, Schleck or anyother GC contender is riding clean, but Sky are doing a USPS.

How? Who knows, but we will find out, we always find out.

For those waiting for proof of a positive, good luck waiting. For those who can see the evidence with their own eyes, well you know that the sport has not changed.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
14th July 2013 - 18:28

8 Likes

Just check Froome's time against the known druggies up Mt Ventoux. He is slower. Are drugs getting worse, or is he clean, or am I naive?

Cycled in my Livestrong jersey today too!!

posted by veseunr [287 posts]
14th July 2013 - 18:32

3 Likes

One thing I don't get with all those so quick to shout 'drugs' at every win, etc

Why bother watching if it's all doom and gloom?

posted by Super Domestique [1686 posts]
14th July 2013 - 18:43

5 Likes

Decster. If you think cycling is still so corrupt why bother following it? I get the impression, looking on various forums, that people are hoping Froome is a drugs cheat. Personally, I say well done Froome. An awesome performance by an athlete who is on top form

posted by stevebull-01 [62 posts]
14th July 2013 - 18:48

5 Likes

Decster wrote:
To those who think Sky are clean, ask yourself this.

Who presided over Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid

Who runs anti doping now during Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid..

You understanding of how anti-doping works matches your general ignorance of the sport. Why don't you just hang-out on the Clinic on Cyclingnews and join the rest of the tinfoil hat brigade?

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [423 posts]
14th July 2013 - 18:56

3 Likes

stevebull-01 wrote:
Decster. If you think cycling is still so corrupt why bother following it? I get the impression, looking on various forums, that people are hoping Froome is a drugs cheat. Personally, I say well done Froome. An awesome performance by an athlete who is on top form

+ 1

posted by Nzlucas [119 posts]
14th July 2013 - 19:18

2 Likes

Decster wrote:
Who presided over Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid

Who currently presides over Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid.

Who ran anti doping during Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid.

Who runs anti doping now during Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid.

You seem to have overlooked the fact that the President of British Cycling, Brian Cookson, is the only opposition Pat McQuaid faces for the UCI presedency.

If British Cycling's doping ring is being protected by McQuaid, why wouldn't they leave things as they are?

Rob

posted by robert.brady [159 posts]
14th July 2013 - 19:21

4 Likes

Decster wrote:
Who presided over Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid

Who currently presides over Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid.

Who ran anti doping during Armstrong's comeback? McQuaid.

Who runs anti doping now during Sky's dominance of the TdF? McQuaid.

I dont believe Contador, Valverde, Schleck or anyother GC contender is riding clean, but Sky are doing a USPS.

How? Who knows, but we will find out, we always find out

Bloody hell thats one sweeping statement, basically what your saying is that because McQuaid is in charge eveyone is still drug taking and the UCI are sweeping it under the carpet and Sky are his baby doing what they want ?

Either your on something yourself or the voice you hear inside is ??????

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3198 posts]
14th July 2013 - 20:49

4 Likes

I'm a bit naive when it comes to the doping scandals, if I'm totally honest. I'm not even into the sport that much, although enjoy the Tour and the past couple of years of cycling growth. I just like to rides my bike(s) and did used do a bit of competitive cycling in my youth; but that's beside the point...

I'm the fittest and perhaps the fastest I've ever been. It takes dedication and practice, sometimes minute gains, quantified self and guidance in one form or another. My own personal gains have been in running; from the first time I ran a half marathon in 2.5 hours to just outside 1.5 these days. I'm quicker on the bike too Wink

Can someone progress to the standard Froome has? For sure, absolutely. And those gains apply across a whole spectrum of the current riders from the UK. The entire team rode out of their skin; I felt sorry for Peter Kennaugh when he finished for the day. His legs are going to hurt now! The race leaders were excellent, Froome clearly at an advantage over the impetuousness of youth despite the pained expression on his face.

Brilliant.

posted by spaceyjase [53 posts]
14th July 2013 - 21:48

4 Likes

Insult and shoot the messenger.

I am passionate about the sport of cycling, just not its current participants.

That a guy looking like he escaped Belsen is able to climb better than anyone and TT as good as if not better( i suspect he slowed to let OPQS Martin win) is not believable.

Where does a guy so skinny get the power to TT on the flat better than specialists?

Why accept the doping? Because he is British?

PS for those dismissing the clinic, they have a pretty high batting average.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
14th July 2013 - 22:39

1 Like

With doping becoming harder to get away with you would think cycling should be getting cleaner. Is it the culture within the sport or the desire to maximise performance to the edge that creates cyclists who take the dishonest route?

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
14th July 2013 - 22:57

5 Likes

Decster wrote:

Where does a guy so skinny get the power to TT on the flat better than specialists?

That's what really sets the alarm bells ringing for me. The climbing alone might just about be believable. Same alarm bells went off for Porte at Paris-Nice.

If those performances were miraculous, it could be limited to particular individuals rather than full on UKPS - at least Wiggins' TT ability makes sense with his track background and he has vulnerabilities on the climbs!

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
14th July 2013 - 23:00

3 Likes

daddyELVIS wrote:
Loved the sprint to drop Contador - I was laughing aloud at how ridiculous that was!

+1

Yeah just goes to show the drugs really do work, turning froome from zero to climbing great Thinking

posted by TheDoctor [135 posts]
14th July 2013 - 23:01

3 Likes

Tony Martin looks like he has skinnied down quite a bit though...

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

Cooks's picture

posted by Cooks [523 posts]
15th July 2013 - 0:09

5 Likes

If Quintana has any sense he'll stay well away from Sky as he'll never get top dog billing as long as Froome is there. Look at EBH et al now? Even Porte gets the races Froome doesn't want or need.

Sean

posted by seanieh66 [197 posts]
15th July 2013 - 2:05

2 Likes

Super Domestique wrote:
Amazing ride. Stunning effort. Deserved yellow jersey.

Now sit back, break out the popcorn and wait for the cries of 'drug cheat' to ruin the day!

How did you manage to predict that, I reckon you must be using intellect enhancing drugs Big Grin

posted by FMOAB [259 posts]
15th July 2013 - 2:28

4 Likes

Seems to me that a bit of scepticism is healthy, given pro cycling's track record on doping. But when it flips over into out and out cynicism then it's time to question why you follow the sport because then surely it's nothing more than masochism to keep watching.

I don't see how anyone can be as certain one way or the other as some people on here sound. All I know is that yesterday's stage was a blinder to watch. Froome had me completely fooled - I really thought Quintana had him until Froome kicked for the second time. What a spectacle! Can't wait for stage 18...

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [623 posts]
15th July 2013 - 8:26

4 Likes

Listen to the interview by Froome, he didn't kick again he just carried on the same pace and Quintana could not keep up.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3198 posts]
15th July 2013 - 10:06

3 Likes

posted by vasgko2 [23 posts]
15th July 2013 - 19:29

4 Likes

veseunr wrote:
Just check Froome's time against the known druggies up Mt Ventoux. He is slower. Are drugs getting worse, or is he clean, or am I naive?

Cycled in my Livestrong jersey today too!!

It's not that easy to compare times.
You need to consider the speed and direction of the wind,
the weather conditions (even 5 degrees celsius can make a difference in performance) and the total distance covered
(as this year the stage was almost 50km longer than before).

posted by vasgko2 [23 posts]
15th July 2013 - 19:30

5 Likes