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 10, 2014

Monkey Off His Back: Andre Greipel Wins Stage 6

The man everyone calls “The Gorilla”, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), won stage 6 of the 101st Tour de France into Reims. A late attack inside the final kilometer by Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS) nearly spoiled the party for the sprinters, but Katusha took control and reeled him in just as the sprinters launched towards the line. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) gained second place with Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R) out lunging Mark Renshaw (OPQS) for third. There was no change in the general classification as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) retained the maillot jaune. 

The day’s stage was marked by the remembrance of WWI as the rider’s road along the route that made up the Northern front during the war. The Northern front was home to some of the bloodiest battles and much blood was shed in the peloton today too. Rain marked the day and with it came slick roads and many crashes, which culminated in three abandonments out on the road.

Greipel was finally able to get a win after sprinting very poorly to start the Tour. After a poor start people began to doubt his ability, but his was able to silence the critics with a strong and powerful sprint today. At the end he was quick to thank his team for the selfless work they did for him during the stage.

Rain Reeks Havoc

            The breakaway formed today right from the 0 km mark with four riders going clear, Tom Leezer (Belkin), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Jerome Pineau (IAM), and Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne Seche-Environnement). They quickly gained over three minutes, but nothing more. Gone are the days when the breakaway would get seven or eight minutes.

            After cresting the first KOM of the day, Cote de Coucy-le-Chateau-Auffrique, won by Mate, the rain began to fall for the second straight day with 80 km remaining. The road became extremely slick and soon riders were hitting the ground group back in the peloton. French National Champion Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was seen on the ground along with Xabier Zandio (Sky) and Egor Silin (Katusha). While riders were picking themselves up another crash happened in the peloton up the road including a handful of Garmin-Sharp and Netapp riders. The peloton appeared to slow to allow riders to rejoin the peloton. This would not be the case for two of them though as Zandio and Silin were forced to abandon the race.

            The rain continued to fall steadily as the riders passed through the intermediate sprint point with 75 km to go. The riders were now entering the most stressful part of the day. They were riding on a stretch of road called Chemin de Dames. It is highly exposed to the wind and today the wind was blowing across the riders. Crosswinds are a riders worst nightmare because it can cause crashes and splits in the peloton. That is exactly what it did. A group of about 20 riders went down including green jersey wearer Peter Sagan. This crash claimed another rider as Jesus Hernandez (Tinkoff-Saxo) was forced to abandon the race.

Flat Out to the Finish

With around 30 km to go the gap to the leaders was hovering around the one-minute mark with the crosswinds still battering the peloton behind. Soon the peloton split with many riders caught out behind. Those riders would never make it back up to the bunch. Luckily, no GC contenders were behind, but Arnaud Demare got caught out and was unable to contest the sprint for the win.

            The run-in to the finish was riddled with roundabouts, but the final kilometer was clear and straight to the finish line. Omega Pharma-Quick Step was the main protagonist on the day setting up their lead-out train and driving the peloton towards the finish. At the 5 km to go banner Giant-Shimano was nowhere is sight and Marcel Kittel appeared to be isolated. Omega Pharma continued to turn the throttle and the back of the peloton was in tatters with many riders being dropped from the high pace.

            After Omega Pharma had a strong looking lead-out to begin, no one team had control of the peloton heading under the red kite. Michal Kwiatkowski attacked under the red kite and nearly pulled off the spectacular win, but left it just 250 meters short, as Team Katusha was able to reel him in. Andre Greipel made it a perfect 4 for 4 for Germany in the bunch sprints. Surprisingly Marcel Kittle did not contest the sprint today. Rumors surfaced that he had punctured on the run-in, but that was not the case. He simple had bad legs on the day and rolled across the finish line one minute down on the peloton.

Stage Results:

Stage Winner: Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
White Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)

Polka Dot Jersey: Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis)

No comments :

Post a Comment