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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tony Gallopin Wins Stage 11

            A late race attack by Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) brought him a stage win to go along with the yellow jersey he wore 2 days earlier. Gallopin had attacked on the last climb of the day, which was uncategorized and survived all the way to the finish. He was even able to fend off a chase group that had caught him, which had included Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma), and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). Vincenzo Nibali retained his yellow jersey for another day as there was not a change at the top of the general classification

            The ride of the day has to go to American Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp). He was on the back of the peloton from the start and got dropped by the peloton with 83km still to ride to the finish. He soon found himself all alone on the road with only his director in the team car urging him on. Talansky would go on to finish the stage over half an hour down on the winner, but he had made the time cute. He was still in the Tour de France. Only time will tell what tomorrow will bring him.

Getting in the Break

            The 11th stage of the Tour from Besancon to Oyonnax covered 187.5km. Coming out of the rest day, many riders believed the peloton would be quite relaxed and allow a breakaway to gain significant time. This would give the riders a chance to survive all the way to the finish. Many attacks were made and many were brought back as everyone tried to get into the lead group. It took until the 28th km into the race before the breakaway of the day was established. Surprisingly, it was a small group containing only 3 riders, Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne Seche-Environnement), and Martin Elmiger (IAM). All three riders were way down on the general classification so Team Astana was happy to let them go.

            The three leaders gained a maximum advantage of 6’45” 46km into the race. Due to the many attacks that began the day, the riders covered 47.5 km in the first hour of racing alone. Soon Team Cannondale, who fancied Peter Sagan’s chances with a hilly finale, quickly came to the front to start to bring down the time gap. At the 100 km to go mark the lead was down to 4’04” and Cannondale was now getting help from Orica-GreenEdge in chasing down the breakaway. Orica was clearly fancying Simon Gerrans chances for the stage win. Gerrans must have been feeling good, having be bothered severely during this year’s Tour by his high-speed crash on stage one with Mark Cavendish.

Left Behind

            At around the 85km to go mark Andrew Talansky was seen falling off the back of the peloton. He had been on the back all day, clearly suffering from the many injuries he had incurred from crashing the previous days before. Many thought that he was just drifting back to talk to his team car, but quickly it was realized that was not the case. The man everyone calls “Pit Bull” was having a bad day. Soon Talansky found himself all alone at the back, the peloton minutes up the road. Talansky had a team car for company, but abandonment looked inevitable.

Suddenly, with around 50 km to go and over six minutes behind a peloton lead by his own team Garmin-Sharp, Talansky pulled over to the side of the road and got off his bike. Instead of getting into his team car, he sat down on a guardrail in tears. His team director Robbie Hunter knelt down and spoke with him for many minutes. Then the unspeakable happened, Talansky got on his bike and continued on. The spirit of the Tour de France burned bright inside him.

Hard Racing

            Soon the tough, short finishing climbs were upon the riders. The peloton was closing fast, only 1’29” back as the riders hit the Cote de Rogna (7.6km, 4.6%). Delaplace was the first to fall off the pace up front and rejoin the peloton. Lemoine was the next to go, leaving Elmiger alone out front. At the top of the climb Elmiger was still solo, but many chase groups had formed in pursuit of the leader. Up the next climb of the day, the Cote de Choux (1.7km, 6.5%), Nicholas Roche (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma) had ridden to within 20” of the leader. The peloton though was not that far away at 1’02”. On the descent of the Cote de Choux, Roche and Bakelants made the junction with Elmiger, but more were on the way as Jesus Herrada (Movistar) and Cyril Gautier (EuropCar) would bridge up to the leaders on the third climb of the day the Cote de Desertin (3.1km, 5.2%).

            Over the top of the Cote de Desertin there was just 34.5km left to race for the five leaders, but the peloton was closing fast at a slim 33” behind. The riders flew down the 10km narrow descent to the final climb of the day the Cote d’Echallon (3km, 6.6%). As the breakaway hit the bottom of the climb Roche attacked his companions with just 20km remaining. Roche was clinging to a 30” advantage on the climb as the Cannondale lead peloton began picking up the remnants of the breakaway. As Roche charged up the mountain back in the peloton two riders went down clearly the result of a touch of wheels. The fallen riders were Michele Scarponi and a Lampre-Merida rider. Both were fine, but they would not rejoin the peloton.

            Atop the Cote d’Echallon, Roche still clung to 20”, but he still had one more climb left to go. It was uncategorized, but according to some of the riders who train in the area the climb was actually quite difficult. Roche was brought back on the descent of the Cote d’Echallon as the peloton was now lead by Tony Martin (Omega Pharma). Due to the narrow roads the peloton split on the descent with Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) the only GC contender caught out. Costa would ultimately lose 1’36” on the day.

All In for a Stage Win

            The riders stormed the final climb of the day with just a mere 14km to race. Tony Gallopin immediately jumped out of the group and got a gap. The team of Peter Sagan, Cannondale, took over the chase behind in the peloton. The final 10km of the race were mostly downhill on tight narrow roads. This finish favored a single rider or small group. On the descent Gallopin held onto just 15” as a three-man chase group formed off the front of the bunch. It included Michal Kwiatkowski, Michael Rogers, and Peter Sagan. As the road flattened out with 4km remaining there were now four riders at the front. The chase behind in the peloton was quite disorganized and it soon became clear the winner would come from the four up front.

            Sagan was clearly the best sprinter in the group and the others realized this and soon they began to refuse to work with him. During this hesitation Gallopin sprung from the group with 2.5km remaining. Kwiatkowski and Rogers looked to Sagan to chase, but he would have none of it. Inside the final km it became apparent Gallopin was going to win the stage. Michael Rogers tried a late pursuit of Gallopin, but he left it too late. Gallopin raised his arms in victory as the peloton sprinted around him for second place.

            As Tony Gallopin readied himself for the podium Andrew Talansky still had over 20km still to go to the finish. It was touch and go on whether Talansky would make the time cut, but he ultimately did. In the final km Talansky broke into a smile as his director told him he would make the time cut. Talansky looked over and gave a nod to the camera. The spirit of the Tour de France lives on in all of the cyclists that take part, but today it burned brighter in Talansky.

Stage 11 Results:

Stage Winner: Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol)
Yellow Jersey: Vincenzo Nibali (Astana)
Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
White Jersey: Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondial)

Polka Dot Jersey: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)

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