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 16, 2013

Tour De France Report: Stage 15

“The Giant of Provence”: Chris Froome Stamps His Authority

 Chris Froome (Sky) conquered the “Giant of Provence”, Mont Ventoux, to win the 15th stage of the 100th Tour De France. Froome crossed the line punching the sky, a symbol of triumph. The only other person able to match the pace of Froome was young climbing sensation Nairo Quintana (MoviStar) who had attacked on the lower slopes of the climb, with Froome eventually bridging up to him on a viscous acceleration. Froome was finally able to dispatch Quintana right before the red kite and had put 30 seconds into him by the finish. Most of the other contenders finished together 1’45’’ down from Froome.

On the podium Froome took a deep breath of satisfaction and relief, then paid his respects the mountain at the finish saying, “I didn’t imagine this. This climb is so, so historical, it means so much to this race especially being the 100th edition.” Froome also acknowledged the efforts of Quintana, “He’s a really strong climber. I didn’t expect it to be that hard to catch him.”

The young Colombian climber tipped his helmet to Froome after the stage saying, “Right now, Froome is the strongest in the mountain. We will have to reconsider our strategy to try to take time on him.”

Lightning Fast

The fifteenth stage of the 2013 Tour De France was a brutal 242 km (150 mi) from Givors to the famed Mont Ventoux. However, the riders appeared not to be worried at all as what was to come toward the end of the day. The start of the stage was blazing fast with repeated attacks and groups coming up the road. The average speed for the first hour of racing was 48.2 kph. Just about 24 km into the stage the peloton a group of nine slipped up the rode. Those nine were Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Markel Irizar (RadioShack), Pierrick Pedrigo (FDJ), Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Alberto Losada (Katusha), Daryl Impey (Orica), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma), and Wouter Poels (Vacansoleil).

The riders continued to drill the pace through the second hour of racing, averaging 50.4 kph or over 30 mph! The course wasn’t pancake flat either with a category three and a category four climb coming early in the stage. The contenders were definitely interested in winning the stage, as the break gained no more than a five-minute advantage on the stage. MoviStar came to the front of the peloton, as the riders got closer to Mont Ventoux, clearly feeling pretty confident in their young gun Nairo Quintana.

The intermediate sprint at 35 km still to race allowed Sagan to gain maximum points and extend his already large lead in the green jersey Points Competition. The leaders now just held a slim three-minute advantage to the fast moving peloton now controlled by Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Fireworks on Bastille Day

Sylvain Chavanel attacked his breakaway companions a few kilometers before the climb and entered the base of the Mont Ventoux to a tunnel of noise. He was a Frenchman, on Bastille Day, leading the biggest bike race in the world, offering excitement to the people of France. Meanwhile, back in the peloton, Team Sky now had control and was absolutely going ballistic at the front. The peloton began to shatter into a million pieces even before the climb started. Shockingly, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) was seen going backwards, clearly not in the same form he had a year ago.

As the peloton hit the lower slopes of the 20.5 km climb to the finish, they began picking up the remnants of the breakaway. Peter Sagan, clearly happy with his day, popped a one-handed wheelie and waved goodbye to the camera as the peloton swallowed him up. Riders began attacking out of the peloton on the lower slopes. Most notable was Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel-Euskadi), the Basque climbers, and Jan Bakelants (RadioShack), former yellow jersey wearer. The Big names were content to just sit on knowing it was still a long way to the top.

At 12 km to go, Nieve and Bakelants finally made it to the front, passing and dropping Chavanel who was the last surviving rider of the original breakaway. Chavanel would win the “Fighting Spirit” Award for his efforts and the right to wear the coveted red number in the next stage. Meanwhile, at the now slim peloton the big attack came as Nairo Quintana accelerated out of the group like a man on a mission. No reaction came from the others with a long way still to go to the finish. Quintana quickly made his way up to the lead duo and was soon solo at the front.

Four kilometers later, Richie Porte was the only Sky rider left besides Chris Froome in a very now select group. Porter drilled it and suddenly everyone was gone but Contador and Roman Krueziger (Saxo-Tinkoff).

Off My Wheel!!

Porte then swung off the front, and Froome viciously accelerated, spinning the pedals at a rate of over 100 rpm. Contador followed, but only briefly and Froome began his quest for Quintana, catching him within a kilometer and trying his mightiest to drop the young Colombian. It wasn’t meant to be as Quintana followed Froome’s wheel.

Down the mountain, Contador caught up with Nieve who was somehow still maintaining pace. The duo began to work together, but had already conceded 25 seconds to the Froome-Quintana duo. Behind Contador, the other GC contenders, including American Andrew Talansky, were forming their own group more than one minute behind Froome with 5 km still to race.

As the riders made their way up the mountain and onto the bare peak of Mont Ventoux the gaps began getting larger. Quintana and Froome continued to blast up the mountain, the latter rider doing most of the work. The duo were seen talking to each other with Froome explaining after the race that he was encouraging Quintana. Nieve and Contador were also seen exchanging words, but the duo continued to lose ground and get closer to being caught by the next group on the rode containing all of the other GC men.

At 1.5 km to go, Quintana finally cracked with daylight opening up between him and Froome, who looked over his shoulder, saw this and accelerated, never to be seen again. As Froome rounded the last corner, a leg searing 10% gradient, he jumped out of the saddle and mashed the pedals. He crossed the line punching the Sky. He had shown everyone who was boss.

At day’s ends the damage was done. Chris Froome extended his lead on the GC, but nothing else had changed. Quintana moved up a couple of spots with his brilliant climbing performance, but everyone else finished together, maintaining the same time gaps. Places two through six were separated by a slim 40 seconds.

Not Their Day

Many riders hoping to have a good ride up Mont Ventoux did not. Andy Schleck (RadioShack) was the most disappointing. He was dropped early on the climb and would lose nine minutes to Froome. Cadel Evans (BMC) was another name hoping to somehow find good form for the final week of the Tour. The wheels came off for Evans fairly early, but not as early as Schleck. He too would lose just less than nine minute to the maillot jaune. Pierre Rolland, KOM leader, fell off the pace on the lower slopes unable to find his climbing legs for the day.

Tomorrow is a rest day.

Quotes made in this article contributed by

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