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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tour De France Report: Stage 11

Froome Stamps His Authority, Martin Wins TT

The 11th stage of the 2013 Tour De France from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel was the “Race of Truth,” man versus the clock. It was a flat course along the coast, with the wind being the rider’s biggest factor to deal with out on course. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma) blitzed the 33 km course winning the stage with a time of 36’ 29’’, his average speed a leg searing 54.27 kph (33.6 mph). Martin was the 65th rider out of the start gate and was forced into the hot seat watching three and a half hours of time trialing before he knew he won.

The last rider out of the start gate was the maillot jaune, Chris Froome (Sky). Through the first time check at 9.5 km into the race, he was one second faster than Martin, who had the best time at all of the time checks. Then at the second time check 22 km into the race he was two seconds faster than Martin. Ultimately Froome would finish the stage twelve seconds down from Martin in a time of 36’41, good enough for second place, but better yet he had gained time on his opponents.

After sitting in the leader’s seat for almost four hours Martin was very happy to have won the stage saying, “First of all, I had a terrible last 30 minutes. I didn’t expect [Froome] was coming so close. I’m really happy now that he lost some seconds in the final.” Froome was just as happy after the stage, “I’m really happy with second place and having extended my advantage to the overall contenders.” He added, “It gives me a big buffer going into the next few days, but I think I need as much as I can get with how these guys are riding.” The last statement created buzz; was he talking about how well his competitors were riding or how bad his teammates were riding after they blew to pieces during the second of two days in the Pyrenees.

Fast Men Start Early

Many of the fast times of the day came from riders who started very early. Svein Tuft (Orica), Canadian National Time Trial Champion, was second out of the start and set the first real mark of the day. His time of 38’04 would stand until Tony Martin came through with his winning time of 36’29’’. Tuft would still finish in the top ten. Another early starter was Thomas De Gendt. He started only two minutes in front of Martin. He must have been scared of getting caught because he attacked the course with a vengeance. He finished the day in third place 1’01’’ behind Martin, not giving Martin the satisfaction of having him in his sights out on the course.

A Dismal Performance by the GC Men

Most of the GC men came into today worrying about how much time they would loose to Chris Froome, not how much they would gain. At this year’s Tour, Froome appeared to be the only great time trialist out of all of the GC contenders. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) had showed his great time trial skills in the pastt, but post-doping suspension he has struggled against the clock. Contador had said he would be happy if he only conceded 90 seconds to Froome on the day. Well, Contador won’t be very happy tonight. He finished the stage in 38’44’’, conceding 2’03 to Chris Froome. Though Contador would move up in the overall standings to fourth place, he is almost four minutes back of Froome. Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) both put in reasonable time trial performances. Mollema did enough to hold onto his third place standing in the general classification, but he is now 3’37’’ behind Froome. His teammate Ten Dam put in a top 25 performance, but it was not enough to hold onto his 4th place. He slipped two spots to sixth overall, 4’10 behind Froome.

Andy Schleck (RadioShack) put in an absolute horrible showing in the time trial, but that’s normal for the two-time Luxembourg Time Trial Champion. He finished 123rd out of 182 riders, losing 4’44’’ to Froome. He now sits 17th overall, some 8’32’’ behind Chris Froome.  Alejandro Valverde (MoviStar), another GC contender who struggles against the clock, finished the day just ahead of Contador in 13th place, losing two minutes to Froome.

The Americans had a descent showing in the time trial today. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), winner of the stage 6 time trial at the Amgen Tour of California, started the day very well, conceding 12 seconds to Martin after the first check. Van Garderen would fade towards the end though and just sneak into the top 50 at 49th place. Look for Tejay to go into breakaways with the Alps coming up in a couple of days. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) was best American, finishing just outside the top 10 in 12th place, a great ride for the Tour rookie.

The Battle for White

The White Jersey competition for the Tour’s best young rider is really heating up. Nairo Quintana (MoviStar) entered the day wearing white but only held a slim lead over Omega-Pharma’s Michael Kwiatkowski, who is a very good time trialist. Kwiatkowski finished the stage in 5th place, only 1’31 down on Martin, taking back the white jersey Quintana took from him in the Pyrenees. With only one time trial left in this year’s Tour Kwiatkowski will have to try his best to limit his loses to the Colombian climber Quintana in the Alps.

Sprinters Make Headlines

The time trial is usually a very stress-free day for the sprinters. They don’t have to worry about trying to win the stage or trying to make the time cut. They can simply strive for a reasonable time. That certainly wasn’t the case today as Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma) created headlines, but for very different reasons.

Peter Sagan showed that he certainly is a once in a generation. Green jersey points only went fifteen places deep and many sprinters have no chance to get anywhere near that placing, but Sagan is no ordinary sprinter. The rider from Slovakia turned in a fast time of 38’ 47’’ just 2’18’’ off the pace of Martin. For most of the day his time placed him in the top ten, but as the favorites took the course his time began to slide. In the end, he would miss green jersey points, finishing in 17th place, only three seconds away from 15th.

Mark Cavendish also made headlines, but for being the brunt of a fan’s sick trick. It was revealed after his ride that a fan threw a bottle of urine at him during the stage. Patrick Lefevere, CEO of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, was questioned how he knew it was urine and said, “Maybe you smell his jersey before you believe. I don’t know the taste of urine, but [Mark’s] a little bit upset at the moment, and down, because he doesn’t deserve this and he’s right.” This act appears to be stemming from his run in with Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) yesterday during the sprint when the two bumped shoulders and Veelers crashed heavily. Apparently many fans think it was purposeful and are angered at Cavendish.

Tomorrow’s flat stage from Fougeres to Tours will most certainly end in a bunch sprint. With no categorized climbs on the day, it is a course made for the sprinters. Look for Mark Cavendish to seek revenge and come out with his legs full of fire.

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