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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Redemption: Matteo Trentin Wins Stage for Omega Pharma

         Stage 7 of the 101st Tour de France was the second longest stage of the Tour at 234.5 km from Epernay to Nancy. It appeared to be a stage for the sprinters, but two small punchy category 4 climbs in the finale proved to more selective than many thought. Matteo Trentin (OPQS) won the stage out of a reduced bunch besting Peter Sagan (Cannondale) by just millimeters. The win provided a bit of redemption and confidence for Omega Pharma after they lost Mark Cavendish, whom the team was built around, after stage one.

         It would not be a stage of the Tour without some drama though. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) went down in a 10-rider crash after the first climb with 15 km remaining. He would be forced to finish the stage on a teammates bike and would ultimately lose 1'03". His teammate Darwin Atapuma (BMC) was forced to abandon after crashing too. It was a tough day for the American hopefuls as Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) hit the deck just 100 meters from the finish. Talansky was given the same time as the winner.

Green All the Way

            Vincenzo Nibali was the lone bright spot decked out in yellow as an overcast sky greeted the riders on the start line. The rain would not materialize though and the riders would have a dry stage. Nibali and his Astana team have been hinting they would like to pass on the maillot jaune to another rider for a couple of days. It is very difficult having to control the race and with still two weeks to go to Paris they would like to give their riders a bit of rest.

            Knowing Astana was looking to give up the yellow jersey team Cannondale took the initiative and rode at the front of the peloton all day in hope of delivering Peter Sagan a stage win and possibly the yellow jersey with the Cannondale rider sitting second overall 44” back. A break of 6 riders, Alexandre Pichot (EuropCar), Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Martin Elmiger (IAM),
Bartosz Huzarski (Netapp-Endura) & Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne Seche-Environnement), got away just 1 km into the race and built up a maximum lead of four minutes. With about 190 kilometers still to race Stef Clement (Belkin) crashed heavily and was forced to abandon the race.

Fireworks in the Finale

            With around about 40 km to go Cannondale had brought the gap down to around the 45-second mark and the breakaway began attacking each other. Elmiger and Huzarski continued to push on as the rest of their breakaway companions dropped back to the peloton. The duo began to stretch out their lead again as it nudged over the one-minute mark with 30 km remaining.

            The first of the two finishing climbs, Cote de Maron was the longer of the two at 3.2 km in length and an average gradient of 5%. It began with just 20 km remaining in the stage. As the riders began nearing the start of the climbs the teams of the GC men began crowding Cannondale at the front of the peloton with Team Sky and Garmin-Sharp the most notable.

            As the riders hit the Cote de Maron the breakaway was reeled back in and team Orica-GreenEdge set a furious pace at the front of the peloton. Thomas Voeckler made a small attack, but went nowhere with high pace being set by the young British rider Simon Yates (OGE). The back of the peloton was in absolute shambles as Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) were both seen going backwards. A greatly reduced peloton crested over the top of climb with all of the GC contenders there.

At around the 15 km to go mark chaos ensued. Tejay van Garderen was sitting near the front, but appeared to touch the wheel of his teammate in front of him. He recovered very well, but that slight decrease in speed caused the Movistar rider behind him to crash into the back of him. Van Garderen hit the deck hard along with a few of his teammates and about 10 other riders. His bike was a mess and the team cars were stuck back behind dropped riders. Van Garderen took his teammates bike and began to chase back to the peloton. Soon he had three teammates with him, but the time gaps showed he was 50” behind the peloton. 

The riders stormed onto the final climb with 6.8 km remaining. The Cote de Boufflers was just 1.3 km in length, but averaged a brutal 8% gradient. As the climb began not one team had control and it was everyman for himself. Van Garderen began the climb just 45-seconds down, but now he was on his own his teammates had run out of steam chasing for him. As van Garderen chased behind the odd thing happened up front, his teammate Greg van Avermaet (BMC) attacked, followed closely by Peter Sagan. Van Avermaet had targeted this stage before the Tour, but when your leader is behind it makes sense to let other riders do the work. By attacking you are increasing the pace of the race, thus making it harder for your teammate to get back on.

Peter Sagan and Greg van Avermaet crested the climb with a small gap and rode like crazy trying to survive with a slim 5.5 km remaining in the stage. The peloton was greatly reduced at this point with all of the GC men there except for van Garderen. Simon Gerrans must have been feeling good as Orica was on the front again. They reeled Sagan and van Avermaet in with just 1 km to go. Going around the final corner with around about 800 meters to go there was a crash at the back of the group that took out Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol). He would get up and finish the stage, being given the same time as the leader due to the 3km rule*.

The riders opened up their sprints with about 100m to go to the roar of the crowd in Nancy. As Simon Gerrans opened up his sprint he was forced to move around a drifting Andrew Talansky. Talansky appeared to clip Gerrans back wheel and went tumbling to the ground. A last ditch effort by Peter Sagan to come around Matteo Trentin resulted in a photo finish that took minutes to figure out. Ultimately, Trentin was given the stage win by millimeters with Sagan being denied again. Peter Stage has finished in the top 5 of every stage at this year’s Tour, but has been unable to come away with a stage win. Tejay van Garderen finished the day 1'03" down dropping to 3’14” behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

Anger and Disappointment

            Andrew Talansky was absolutely livid after the stage believing Simon Gerrans had wrecked him. I studied the crash many times over and I believe the fault of the crash falls solely on Talansky’s shoulders. Talansky begins drifting towards the left, as he looks over his right should. Meanwhile, Gerrans has opened up his sprint and is moving up on his left-hand side. Talansky looks back straight and appears to be startled by Gerrans blowing by him. As Gerrans passes Talansky he is forced to deviate from his line and clips Talansky’s front wheel moving back to his original line. None of this would have occurred had Talansky kept a straight line. Fellow American Taylor Phinney (BMC), not at the Tour, voiced his opinion on Twitter posting “In no sprint do you look around like that. Gerrans sprinted straight--watch the white line. Not his fault. #controversialtweet

On the opposite end of the spectrum Peter Sagan was left with utter disappointment being denied a stage win again. I believe Sagan could have won the stage easily had he chosen to wait for the sprint. But his youthful exuberance got the best of him and he chose to attack on the climb ultimately burning matches he could have used in the sprint.

Stage 7 Results:

Stage Winner: Matteo Trentin (OPQS)
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
White Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
Polka Dot Jersey: Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis)

*Note: The 3km rule is if a rider has a crash or mechanical inside of the last 3km he will be given the same time as the group he was with

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