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.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tour De France Report: Stage 9

Trouble in the Clouds: Dan Martin wins stage; Froome Isolated

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) sprinted out of a two-man breakaway to take the 9th stage of the 2013 Tour De France. As Martin and breakaway companion Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) rode under the Flamme Rouge Martin sat second wheel forcing Fuglsang to lead out the sprint. Martin timed his sprint to perfection and sprinted away from Fuglsang with 200 meters to go, holding on until the finish. It was the first taste of success for Garmin-Sharp at this year’s Tour. The group containing all of the favorites came in 20 seconds adrift.

The big story of the day was the implosion of Team Sky with Froome becoming isolated on the day’s second climb of five. After the stage Froome was relieved the day was over telling reporters “That was a really hard day. One of the hardest day’s I’ve ever had on the bike.” Sports Director of Team Sky Dave Brailsford had nothing, but praise for his captain saying, “Froome was fantastic,” but when it came to how his team did during the stage he hesitated saying “Ummm, with difficulty, to be fair” and that was putting it nicely.

Attacks Galore

The 9th stage of the Tour from Saint Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre was a relatively short affair at just 168 km, but with one cat. 2 climb followed by four consecutive cat. 1 climbs, it was going to be a brutal day in the saddle. Ironically, it wasn’t a mountain top finish but a fast 30 km descent to the line.

As soon as the white flag dropped signaling the start of the stage attacks were fast and furious, with Garmin-Sharp being the most active. Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) gave it a go with Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) also getting in on the action, but it would be another tough day in the saddle for Van Garderen, as he would end up losing 22 minutes on the day. Eventually a group of five got away, those riders were Dan Martin, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ), and Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre). They went over the first climb, the cat. 2 Porte d’Aspet, with Jeannesson cresting first. Further back, Peter Kennaugh (Sky) was disappearing into a ravine, knocked of his bike by a Garmin rider accidentally brushing his handlebars. He climbed out with only scrapes and bruises on his left shoulder.

On the next climb of the day, the cat. 1 Col de Mente, the field absolutely imploded as Team MoviStar drove the pace at the front. Most surprisingly Richie Porte was seen going backwards, unable to find the legs he had the day before. Cadel Evans also appeared to be in a tough state, dangling off the back of the peloton, but he would recover and finish the stage with the other favorites. As the riders neared the summit, the front of the raced reshuffled with two riders leading the race, Tom Danielson and Trofimov (Katusha). The descent and run through the valley to the Col de Peyresourde was absolute chaos at the front with riders attacking. Alejandro Valverde put in an attack with a teammate, but Froome shut that down quickly. Froome began taking hits from all sides and had to dig deep to bring everything back together.  At the top of the Col de Peyresourde it was a six man lead group that included Rolland (EuropCar), Bardet (AG2R), Jan Bakelants (RadioShack), Hesjedal, De Gendt, and De Clerq. Simon Clarke had jumped from the yellow jersey group on the climb and bridged up on the descent.

A Fast Finish

On the penultimate climb, the Col de Val Louron Azet, the breakaway shredded to pieces with Clarke coming out on top. As he crested the summit he held a slim 18-second lead on three chasers and only a minute on the yellow jersey group of favorites (minus Richie Porte). The final climb was setting up to be quite a show with Froome isolated and Valverde cocooned with much of his team intact and at his disposal. As the riders hit the base of the climb Nairo Quintana (MoviStar), the white jersey leader put in a small dig and Froome jumped right onto his wheel. It appeared to be a non-committed acceleration and only something to test the waters. At the back, riders, including, the young American Andrew Talansky, were getting shelled. Quintana continued to put in dig after dig, succeeding in lifting the pace but never really committing to launching a full-blown attack. As the riders neared the top, Dan Martin and Jakob Fuglsang counter-attacked one of Quintana’s accelerations. The duo had 42-second lead as they crested the summit and charged down into the finishing town of Bagneres-de-Bigorre.

The gap continued to hover near the 30 to 40 second mark. The chase seemed uncommitted to bring back the duo, swerving across the road at times as riders tried to skirt their turn on the pulls at the front. In the end it was a day for the Irishman Dan Martin, with Michael Kwiatkowski bringing home the yellow jersey group some 20 seconds later.

After the stage Dan Martin was relieved the stage was over, exclaiming “With 20 km to go I wanted to get caught because my legs were hurting so much.” Martin was also quick to thank his teammates who launched early attacks of their own. He even made sure to point out the one teammate sitting at home Christian Vande Velde, who had to abandon after crashing heavily, telling his good friend “This one's [you].”

A Tough Day for Many

The 9th stage of the Tour saw the most abandonments yet with no less than five riders leaving the race. Astana and Team Sky came out the worse for wear with Dimitri Murayev (Astana) climbing into the team car midway through the stage and Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) missing the time cut. Astana is now down to just five riders with two weeks still left to go. Richie Porte finished the stage 18 minutes down, perhaps paying for his big effort the day before. When American Andrew Talansky crossed the line some seven minutes in the rear, he was quick to say, “If anybody wants to understand why the Tour De France is the hardest sporting event in the world all they have to do is watch today.” The gruppetto or Autobus, the group containing all of the sprinters and lead-out men, came in 26 minutes down on winner Dan Martin, surviving the time cut.

Tomorrow is a rest day, but then it’s back to the fast men for stage ten, with a flat course from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo.

No comments :

Post a Comment