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 22, 2014

The Sunny Pyrenees: Michael Rogers Wins

         Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) won the 16th stage out of the remnants of a breakaway. This is Rogers’ first stage win at the Tour and he was overcome with emotion as he hit the line, bowing to the crowd as his victory salute.

            With the final climb, the Port des Bales, topping 21km from the finish there was bound to be attacks. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) all finished together as Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Romain Bardet (AG2R) lost time.

No Regard

            The sixteenth stage of the 101st Tour de France traveled from Carcassonne to Bagneres-De-Luchon. Today was the longest stage of the Tour at a brutal 237.5 km. The organizers were quite “mean” in putting the longest day of the Tour, along with the first day in the Pyrenees after the rest day. The riders get into a rhythm riding all of these miles and hours so it is a bit of a shock to the body when it gets to rest. Sometimes coming out of the rest the legs can be a bit stiff so it was bound to be interesting who would do well or not so well.

The brutality of the Tour was taking its toll, as Lampre-Merida’s team leader Rui Costa did not start the stage due to coming down with pneumonia. The Tour was down to just 169 riders after starting with 198 riders. For the riders feeling sore coming out of the rest day there was no rest. The attacks came straight away, but no one could get a sustainable gap. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) was able to slip over the first KOM, Cote de Fanjeaux, first and steal back the Polka Dot jersey from Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). The riders covered 43.7km in the first hour of racing as a breakaway still could not be established.

Finally, roughly 50km into the race a solid group of 12 riders got away and soon they had over a minute. The problem was that Garmin-Sharp soon realized they had missed the break and chased like mad men to bring it back. They were chasing so hard they split the peloton. None of the GC men were caught out, but a lot of the riders in the back must have been panicking. At the 60km mark the breakaway was caught, reformed, and 21 riders were allowed to go up the rode. The breakaway riders were, Bernhard Eisel and Vassil Kiriyenka (Sky), Jon Izagirre (Movistar), Michael Rogers (Tinkoff), Jan Bakelants and Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS), Samuel Dumoulin and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin), José Serpa (Lampre), Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Tony Gallopin (Lotto), Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Cyril Gautier, Kevin Reza and Thomas Voeckler (EuropCar), Michael Albasini and Jens Keukeleire (Orica), Roger Kluge (IAM), Anthony Delaplace and Florian Vachon (Bretagne). The 12 original breakaway riders were all in this group. With the breakaway up the road most of the peloton stopped for a natural break and the riders who had gotten dropped made it back.

Steady Miles

            Soon the breakaway’s lead was up over 10 minutes, but nobody in the peloton seemed worried. None of the guys up front posed any threat to the general classification and Team Astana was comfortable setting just an “easy” steady tempo. This part of the stage was rather quite “boring” with not much action. It was the calm before the storm.

Blown to Pieces

            The grueling Hors Category climb of Port des Bales is brutal. At 11.7km at 7.7% it is not a climb for the weak of heart. Even more harrowing is that the finish of the stage was at the bottom on the other side. The descent off the climb is very narrow and there are no guardrails. Meaning, get a corner wrong and you are of the edge.

            At the base of the climb the breakaway was all together and had stretched out their lead to over 12 minutes. The peloton hit the base climb with an escort from Movistar, the team of Alejandro Valverde. Nibali had a comfortable 4’37” lead over Valverde, but the fight for the podium was very tight with positions 2-6 separated by just 1’31”. With Contador and Froome gone, the chance of a lifetime for a place on the podium in Paris had become very real for many riders including American Tejay van Garderen.

            In the breakaway Kiriyenka, Gautier, and Rogers were the biggest protagonists, accelerating and keeping the tempo high. 4km from the summit the breakaway was down to just 4 riders, Rogers, Serpa, and the EuropCar duo of Voeckler and Gautier. 10 minutes down the road the lieutenant’s of Valverde were whittling down the peloton to the elite climbers of the sport. As the leaders hit 3km to go to the summit it was down to 3, Gautier had been dropped. The yellow jersey group was back at 5k to go to the summit and many big names found themselves in trouble. Frank Schleck (Trek) and Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto) had been both been dropped. Then it was van Garderen’s turn to get dropped and he did not look good. The second he slipped out of the slipstream he began pedaling squares. Next, the white jersey of best young rider Romain Bardet fell away. In the blink of an eye the yellow jersey group was down to just 4 men, Pinot, Valverde, Nibali, and Peraud. The leaders went over the top of the Port des Bales with over 7 minutes on the GC favorites. The breakaway was going to survive.

            As the leaders flew down the mountain, the GC men continued to push on, but no one was attacking. Peraud and Pinot were benefiting the most with both Bardet and van Garderen dropped. Less than a 1k from the top Pinot attacked hard and dropped everyone. No one panicked though as Pinot is a known terrible descender. As the GC men began the descent the leaders were 10k from the finish and absolutely flying down the mountain. The leaders were now five as Gautier and Kiriyenka took some risks on the descent and caught back up. The yellow jersey group swelled as everyone caught back up to Pinot and a couple of Valverde’s teammates caught back up. Bardet began the decent 1’31” down on the yellow jersey group, but he had a teammate with him.

            At the 4km to go mark for the leaders, Rogers attacked and immediately got a gap. Serpa and Kiriyenka looked to Gautier and Voeckler to chase because they were teammates and therefore had a numbers advantage in the group. At the red kit Rogers held a slim 10-second gap, but Rogers is a 3-time World Champion in the time trial. It is very difficult to bring him back. As Rogers came around the final corner and into the finishing straight he let out a roar. He was going to win his first ever stage at the Tour. He raised and pumped his fists before taking a bow to the cheering crowd. Voeckler lead the chase group across 9-seconds later. Dropped riders from the breakaway slowly rolled in as everyone waited for the GC men to arrive. Jeremy Roy lead the yellow jersey group across the line that included, Pinot, Peraud, Valverde, Nibali, and to the surprise of many Leopold Konig. Konig had been dropped on the climb, but flew down the descent and had caught back up to the yellow jersey inside of the final kilometer of the stage.

            A dejected Romain Bardet crossed the line 1’50” down on the yellow jersey group conceding his white jersey to fellow Frenchmen Pinot. Frank Schleck, Bauke Mollema and Van Den Broeck came in 3’ down on the yellow jersey. The biggest disappoint had to be van Garderen as he lost 3’35” and any shot at finishing on the podium in Paris. The interesting thing is that no attacks caused all of these time gaps. These riders were just flat out dropped. There are no excuses about not being able to follow the accelerations because there were none. There are still two days left in the Pyrenees and the final time trial, but the hopes of some for a podium in Paris vanished into thin air today.

Stage 16 Results

Stage Winner: Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo)
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
White Jersey: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
Polka Dot Jersey: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)

Top 10 GC:
1.Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)                       73:05:19
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)               +4’37”
3. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)                                +5’06”
4. Jean Christophe Peraud (AG2R)             +6’08”
5. Romain Bardet (AG2R)                          +6’40”
6. Tejay van Garderen (BMC)                    +9’25”
7. Leopold Konig (Netapp)                         +9’32”
8. Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin)                      +11’12”
9. Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS)                 +11’28”

10.Bauke Mollema (Belkin)                        +11’33”

No comments :

Post a Comment