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.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tour De France Stage 7 Report

A Day Filled with Green

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won stage seven of the 2013 Tour De France with John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) and Daniele Bennati (Saxo-Tinkoff) rounding out the podium. Team Cannondale taught the peloton a lesson on how to ride as a team. As the main sprinters got dropped on the cat 2 Col de Croix de Mounis and 111 km still to race at the top of the climb, Cannondale hit the front of the field and drove the pace. The chase behind was furious with Lotto, Omega Pharma, and Argos-Shimano all leading the chase together, but they could not match the speed of the green machine that had formed at the front. As the peloton came into the finishing straight, Sagan still had a man in front to lead him out and, with some great maneuvering, took his 4th career Tour stage win. Asked what it meant to get his first win of the 2013 Tour, Sagan declared, “First win, but today [its] one for everybody on the team.”
The Veteran Shows the Young Guns How to Ride

The seventh stage of the 2013 Tour De France was a 205.5 km affair from Montpellier to Albi. With four categorized climbs, including the cat 2 Col de Croix de Mounis, it was not a walk in the park for the sprinters.

With the Pyrenees on the horizon there was a lot of nervous energy in the peloton at the beginning of the day and it showed itself the only way it does in bike racing….crashes. Only 11 km into the stage many riders hit the tarmac, most notably Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Alejandro Valverde’s right hand man Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp). All of the other riders involved in the crash got up and finished the stage, all but one.  The crash forced the abandonment of Vande Velde. After the stage, speaking to the media Vande Velde explained, “You know when enough is enough. No one knows your body as well as you do.” This was Vande Velde’s last Tour De France.

The day’s breakaway consisted of only two riders, Biel Kadri (AG2R) and the old-timer and fan favorite Jens Voight (RadioShack). As the duo crested the cat. 3 Col de 13 Vents, Kadri claimed maximum points, while 4’15’’ down at the back of the peloton World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was getting a bike change. Even with the thought of the next day’s leg searing climbs, the riders held nothing back and covered 43.9 km in the first hour of racing.

The Wheels Fall Off

The peloton hit the cat. 2 Col de la Croix de Mounis with such force that riders began popping off the back immediately—Mark  Cavendish (Omega-Pharma), Andre Greipel (Lotto), Marcel Kittle (Argos-Shimano), and many others. But where was Peter Sagan? He was sitting perfectly at the front of the field while his Cannondale teammates drove the pace up the climb. At the top Kadri again took maximum points, giving him enough to take the lead in the polka dot King of the Mountains competition. When the peloton crested the climb still with 111 km to go the break’s lead had been cut in half. Andre Greipel crested the climb a full minute in the rears with Cavendish a full another minute behind Greipel.

The Chase

With 88 km to go, Cavendish’s group and Greipel’s group began to work together—and the race was on. With 60 guys making up the sprinters group, it was the tale of two pelotons. Up front, the break was shot down in flames as Cannondale continued to ride full gas. At the intermediate sprint Sagan easily picked up maximum points and greatly extended his lead in the green jersey competition while all of the other sprinters were caught behind. The gap towards the back group continued to hover around the 2’30’’ mark. Jan Bakelants jumped from the front group with 68 km to and soon there were three at the front with Juan Jose Orzo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Cyril Gautier (EuropCar) joining him. They never gained more than a minute, but boy were they tough to pull back.

A Hectic Finale

With 40 km to go the sprinter’s group turned off the gas realizing they would never make it back. As the lead pack entered the city limits of Albi, the lead trio clung to just a handful of seconds. As the group hit the 3km-to-go mark, the break was swept up and it was all heads down to the finish. The stage finished on a tight two-lane road that didn’t offer much room for error. With 400 meters to the finish, Peter Sagan appeared to be boxed out, but he was just able to slip between the barrier and another rider, appearing to actually brush the barrier in the process. John Degenkolb looked to have gotten the jump on Sagan, but once the green machine hit the after-burners it was a race for second with him winning by a bike length. After the stage Andre Geipel could only be impressed by Cannondale, saying, “I would have to say it was embarrassing, we were three teams riding and at the front was only Cannondale. Obviously Cannondale is strong.” Cannondale did look mighty invincible today and finally got the monkeys off their backs in claiming that elusive first win of the Tour De France 2013. Nothing changed on the General Classification with Daryl Impey (Orica) still leading Edvald Boasson Hagen by 3 seconds, and his teammate Simon Gerrans (Orica) a further 2 seconds back.

Tomorrow the big boys of the mountains come out to play. Stage eight is a 195 km trek from Castres to Ax 3 Domaines ends with back-to-back brutal climbs up the Beyond Category Col de Pailheres, immediately followed by a mountain top finish atop the cat. 1 Ax 3 Domaines. This stage will surly shake up the GC.

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