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 2, 2013

Tour De France Stage 4 Report

A Blur of Speed: Orica GreenEdge win’s TTT 

 The Australian team of Orica GreenEdge claimed their second stage win in a row at this year’s Tour De France, winning the stage four team time trial with a world record average speed of over 59 kph. They beat out Omega Pharma – Quick Step (OPQS) by just one second with a time of 25:56 over the 25 km (15.5 mi) pancake flat course along the coastal city of Nice. Simon Gerrans took over the yellow jersey from RadioShack-Leopard-Trek’s Jan Bakelants. Gerrans was all smiles at the finish exclaiming, “It’s the pinnacle of the sport to get the yellow jersey, so few guys have the honor.” When asked how long he plans to keep it, Gerrans explained “There’s every opportunity to keep it for the next couple of days and we’ll do our best.”

 An Exciting Start 

 The course around the south of France’s Nice was made for the power horses. With very little elevation change, few turns, and a short distance, fast times were to be expected. OPQS was second out of the start gate and they not disappoint, throwing down a time of 25:57 with an average speed over 59 kph. They got a scare when Team Sky came through, finishing just outside the Orica time with a respectable 25:59. As time went on and team after team finished it appeared as though OPQS had put down a time that was just unreachable. Then Orica-GreenEdge took to the course and came through the mid-race time check just 1.6 seconds slower. Teams had come close at the time check, but no one could match OPQS’ pace coming home. As Orica hit the Flamme Rouge it was touch and go as to whether they would set a new best time. The team turned it into overdrive hitting speeds of 65 kph (40 mph) and just beat out OPQS by 75 hundredths of a second, giving Simon Gerrans the first yellow jersey. Gerrans believes the team’s performance yesterday boosted their confidence, saying “The big thing I achieved yesterday was to open the flood gates,” and boy did it.

 The GC Teams Falter

 Garmin-Sharp came into the stage as the heavy favorites, but could only put up the sixth best time on the day at 17 seconds adrift. The team of EuropCar who came to the tour with high GC hopes with Pierre Rolland had a dismal day coming in 19th place, 1:13 down. In an interview after the finish Rolland explained that he would now focus on the King of Mountains jersey, conceding that his GC hopes had taken an almost fatal hit. Chris Froome (Sky Pro Cycling) and Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) came out the best situated of the GC contenders with Froome only losing 3 seconds to Orica who has no GC hopes and Contador only 6 seconds back from Froome. The likes of Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha), and Any Schleck (RadioShack-Leopard-Trek) all lost considerable chunks of time to Froome and Contador with their teams finishing 9th, 10th, and 11th place on the day, 26, 28, and 29 seconds a drift of the pace, respectively.

 A Tough Day in the Saddle for Many 

 With many riders still nursing wounds from the opening day’s crash, the TTT was a real test of pain tolerance. Geraint Thomas (Sky Pro Cycling) who is riding with a slightly fractured pelvis, was unable to take his share of pulls for Team Sky in the first half of the TTT, but as the adrenaline began to take effect he was seen driving the pace along the long 5 km finishing stretch eventually dropping off the group with about 1 km to go. Ted King (Cannondale), riding with a separated left shoulder, was popped off the back from the get go. He was seen riding his road bike with clip-on TT bars, unable to get into the aero position due to the pain. He was in a race of his own to make the 25% time cut. The organizers of the Tour, ASO, revealed after the stage that King missed the time cut by 7 seconds and would not be able to continue. A huge uproar went out on Twitter to get King back into the race, but it doesn’t appear to have worked. Alberto Contador nearly lost a strong lieutenant when Benjamin Noval collided with a spectator holding a camera during the stage. Noval finished the stage within the time cut and went to the hospital to get evaluated. The team revealed that he has a torn tendon in his left hand that may require surgery after the tour, but “[He] will be on the start line tomorrow.”

 The Tour continues with Stage 5 tomorrow, a lumpy 228.5 km ride from Cagnes-sur-Mer to Marseille with four categorized climbs, the most difficult being a cat 3 at the beginning of the stage. Look for the pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel to attempt to open their 2013 Tour de France bank accounts.

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