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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tour De France Report: Stage 12

A New Sheriff in Town

As the peloton came around the final corner with about 300 meters to go Mark Cavendish (Omega-Pharma) was sitting 2nd wheel on the inside behind lead-out man Gert Steegmans (Omega-Pharma). The lead out appeared to be a formality for the man from the Isle of Man. When the Manx Missile launched, it appeared that no one would catch him. Then all of a sudden a white streak flashed alongside Cavendish and just nipped him at the line. It was Marcel Kittle (Argos-Shimano)!

This is Kittle’s third stage win of the 2013 Tour De France. Kittle was very happy at the finish exclaiming, “This is my third win in the Tour De France and in German we say ‘Good things come in threes’.” He dedicated the win to his team, “...especially Tom Veelers,” he said. Cavendish had no excuses today about why he didn’t win saying, “We could go back and look over it again and again. The guys were incredible in the train. Everyone knew what they had to do.”

A Very Fast Stage

The 218 km 12th stage of this year’s Tour De France from Fougeres to Tours was a near pancake flat stage with only a few rollers mixed in for good measure. The field raced across the center of France today as they made their way to the famed Mount Ventoux and the Alps. The finish was very technical, with two 90-degree corners in the last 650 meters.

It took longer than usual for the day’s breakaway to establish, as nobody appeared to want to go on the attack. The day’s break finally established after 3.5 km and included, Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil), Francesca Gavazzi (Astana), Romain Sicard (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun), and Manuele Mori (Lampre). The group of five would gain a maximum advantage of 9’00’’ out on the open road.

The breakaway and peloton absolutely flew through the stage averaging 47.2 kph during the first hour of racing and 45.2 kph through the second hour. The breakaway had to ride at a pace of nearly 30 miles an hour to hold off the main field and the field wasn’t even chasing hard yet.

Right before the feed zone at 105 km still to race Biel Kadri (AG2R) and Alexandre Geniez (Katusha) both hit the tarmac. Kadri had a spectacular fall as he hit his front break a little too hard and went tumbling over the front of the bike. The bike launched into the air over him. Both riders got up quickly and Geniez appeared to be in rush at all as he decided to take a natural break.

Controversy at the Intermediate Sprint

The intermediate sprint point came with only 52 km to go until the finish. The sprint point was hotly contested among the break with Francesco Gavazzi taking the win. Romain Sicard did not contest the sprint along with his other breakaway companions and got gapped off the group. The other four riders did not wait for him so Sicard decided to pedal easy and drop back to the peloton. For the first time all Tour Cavendish won the intermediate sprint ahead of Andre Greipel to claim sixth place while Peter Sagan (Cannondale) rounded out the big men coming in at eighth place. Sagan was very upset after the mid-race sprint as Boekmans of Vacansoleil also contested the sprint and veered off of his line squeezing Sagan between the barriers and him. Sagan managed to recover and still beat him, but he was clearly not happy with the move as he had a few words for Boekmans after the sprint was over. The time gap from the break to the now four leaders was only 2’23’’ at the intermediate sprint point.

A Crash Filled Finale

As the breakaway raced under the 20 km-to-go banner they held a slim 40’’ advantage over the chasing peloton. The infighting began as they attacked each other and choose not to cooperate in the pace setting. Soon it was just two in the lead, Flecha and Gavazzi, but Gavazzi soon sat up with peloton right behind the duo. Flecha would not go down without a fight and at the 10 km banner he held a 25’’ to the Orica GreenEdge-led peloton.

Finally, it was all over as Flecha was swept up by the peloton just inside of 6 km to go until the finish. Orica GreenEdge still led the peloton and they looked very much in control. Could this be the day Matt Goss finally broke through and won a stage? Disaster struck them though with 4.5 km to go. As the peloton negotiated a roundabout the lead rider for Orica took it a little too fast and slid out. Luckily, he slid off to the side of the rode leaving plenty of room for the peloton to pass by. The rider would get up and appeared to be no worse for the wear. Orica now had a problem though, they were suddenly down one man with 4 km still to race. At that point the young-gun Michael Kwiatkowski, white jersey competition leader, pulled Omega Pharma up to the front of the race and now Cavendish’s team was in the driver’s seat.

A huge crash just after the 3 km to go banner took out most of the field, including almost all of the Lotto-Belisol team of Andre Greipel. The crash happened right at the front of the peloton and created a massive pile-up of bodies and bikes. Lotto appeared to be in the middle of it as Andre Greipel himself was caught up in the crash, but appeared to have not gone down.

Up front it was still Omega Pharma in control but Argos-Shimano, the team of Marcel Kittle, began creeping up on their left side. Many people believed that with the final corner coming so close to the finish if you were on the inside and sitting second wheel the win was almost definite. Furthermore, after that final right 90-degree turn the riders got a full on tailwind. Cavendish was sitting just where everybody believed the winner would come from as the group navigated that final corner. In the finishing straight Kittle jumped from his lead out man Tom Veelers’ wheel to Cavendish’s wheel just as Cavendish opened up his sprint. At the end Cavendish appeared dumb founded as Marcel Kittle just nudged him out on the line. Kittle now had the same amount of stage wins as the other top sprinters combined.

The overall GC remained unchanged, as Chris Froome still leads Alejandro Valverde by 3’25’’ in the race for the maillot jaune. None of the GC contenders appeared to have gone down in the late race crash.

Tomorrow is another stage for the sprinters. Mark Cavendish finally had the lead out he’d always wanted during this year’s Tour, but he couldn’t finish the job. Look for him to be extra motivated tomorrow as the peloton travels the 173 km from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

Update to come on injuries occurred during the late race crash.

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