Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tour De France Report: Stage 10

A Controversial Ending: Kittle Wins Stage 10

Marcel Kittle (Argos Shimano) won the bunch sprint into the town of Saint Malo, ahead of Andre Greipel (Lotto) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma), to capture the 10th stage of the 2013 Tour De France. Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rounded out the big four, coming in at fourth place. It was a very quiet day out on the route until about 100 meters to go when Mark Cavendish and Kittle’s lead out man Tom Veelers rubbed shoulders causing Veelers to fall rather heavily. Miraculously no one else crashed, but Matthew Goss (Orica) had to swerve sharply to avoid Veelers, showing skillful bike handling.

The stage win put Kittle one up on the other stage winners by virtue of this being his second win of the 2013 Tour. After the stage Kittle felt mixed emotions about winning saying, “I’m really happy that we won today, but on the other hand, I heard Tom [Veelers] crashed and it must’ve been a high speed crash.” He added, “I hope he’s alright.”

It was a pretty uneventful day for the GC men and Chris Froome (Sky) was fairly relaxed at the finish, “Today was a relatively quiet day. The team did a good job of protecting me.” Team Sky does seem to be tiring though, as Froome was down to only one man, Ian Stannard, for the last 10km or so.

Easy Going

The 197-kilometer, 10th stage of the 2013 Tour De France from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint Malo was fairly flat with just a few undulations. In fact, the maximum altitude for the day was only 161m (528 ft) above sea level so it was definitely a day for the fast men. The day’s breakaway established just after the first km and included Jerome Cousin (EuropCar), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Liuewe Westra (Vacansoleil), and Julien Simon (Sojasun). There were no former stage winners in the break and they reached a maximum advantage of 5’45’’ during the stage. The peloton was pretty relaxed, averaging just 38.9 kph (24 mph) over the first 3 hours of racing. Luis Mate won the intermediate sprint for Cofidis, doubling the team’s prize earnings to about 3,100 euros. Compare that with Omega Pharma Quick Step’s overall prize money of 32,200 euros). Andre Greipel won the sprint for the best of the rest gaining 10 points for sixth place, but Peter Sagan was right behind him in seventh place gaining 9 points. The time gap from the five leaders to the peloton was only 2’25’’with 69.5 km left in the race.

Stressful Times

Liuewe Westra won the only King of the Mountain on the stage. The category 4 Cote de Dinan wasn’t much of a climb at just 1 km in length and a 4.2% average gradient. As he crested the hill, Westra began to push on alone, but then sat up and waited for his breakaway companions, realizing pushing on alone was a lost cause. As the field crested the KOM the time gap from the break to the peloton continued to hover around the 2’30 mark.

As the peloton headed towards the coast of Brittany, they got smacked in the face by a ferocious headwind. The teams of the GC men began moving their men up front preparing for the winding roads along the coast famous for splitting the field. A tailwind at the finish line set the field up for a fast 75 km/h sprint to the line. By the time the riders hit the 25 km-to-go banner the time gap was down to 55 seconds with Saxo-Tinkoff and Team Belkin at the front. The teams of sprinters were being washed away by the GC teams vying for a place at the front in a case a split happened. Just after the 20 km-to-go banner Juan Antonio Flecha hit the tarmac while the field tried to navigate a roundabout. He got up quickly, but was in for a hard chase back.  Moments later Westra dropped off the front group believing that the catch was inevitable, instead deciding to save some energy for another day. Despite that, the lead four riders though would not go down without a fight, as the time gap seemed to be locked in at about the 15-second mark.  The young American Andrew Talansky crashed along with Svein Tuft (Orica) about 15 km from the finish. Talansky would loose 1’40 on the day, as he had to wait for a new bike. Soon Garmin-Sharp took control of the main field with David Millar and Dan Martin tucked in behind. After a great showing in the Pyrenees Martin said he is focused on a high overall placing at the end of the Tour. The wind continued to hit the riders from all directions as they raced along the coast in Brittany.

A Fast Finish, But Not Without Questions

As the field past under the 6 km banner they swept up the breakaway, but Julien Simon would not go down without a fight, putting in a dig to go alone. He quickly ran out of firepower and the field was all together. Finally, with 5 km to go, the teams of the sprinters had gained control of the front, but which team would rain supreme? Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma battled for control over the next couple of kilometers with Lotto coming out on top. As the riders raced under the red kite, it was the Lotto Belisol team of Andre Greipel on the front. Gert Stegmans (Omega Pharma) pulled Mark Cavendish up to the front in the last 400 meters, but Mark choose to slide in onto Greipel’s wheel ultimately being bumped off of it by Tom Veelers. As the sprint opened up Veeler’s sat up, his work for Kittle done. As Cavendish came around him Veeler’s swerved a little bit causing the two to bump shoulders rather hard. In the end Veeler’s crashed heavily and Cavendish had to settle for the bottom step of the podium.

Post race opinions about the stage varied widely. Some riders blamed Veelers, while others put the blame on Cavendish. Still others called it an accident, “just bike racing.” \Mark Cavendish Tweeted after the race “Just seen the sprint. I believe I didn't move line. I'm actually coming past Veelers & we touch elbows when he moves. Anyway, hope he's ok.” Whereas Greg Henderson, Greipel’s lead out man, saw it differently, posting on Twitter “Big congrats Argos and @marcelkittel. Really hope Tom Veelers is ok. Completely knocked off his bike unnecessarily. That's not professional.” The race jury, who ultimately has the last word, chose to do nothing and neither rider faced any punishment.

Tomorrow is the “Race of Truth,” the 32 km individual Time Trial from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel. Look for World Time Trial Champion Tony Martin to put in a good time. Chris Froome is clearly the best time-trialist of the GC contenders so look for him to try to extend his overall lead over Alejandro Valverde (MoviStar) and the others. It will be interesting to see how Alberto Contador does after his dismal time trial performance in the Criterium du Dauphine.

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