Saturday July 14th, 2012

Stage 13Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux / Le Cap d'Agde

Start 11h55 GMT 2+

Greipel earns a third... in anything but an ordinary sprint stage

Stage summary14.07.2012Stage 13- Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux / Le Cap d??Agde

A long transitional stage can, at times, be a procession but the 13th stage of the 2012 Tour was anything but an stock standard sprint stage. A steep hill 23km from the finish ensured that some of the big name sprint specialists were eliminated from the rush to the line. And then, in the final kilometre we were again reminded of the strength of Bradley Wiggins who was the last lead-out man before the sprinters who were able to stay in contact with the front group over the Mont Saint-Clair opened hit the turbo buttons. It was an effort from the race leader that almost delivered Edvald Boasson Hagen to the line first but the Norwegian simply couldn't hold off the charge of André Greipel and Peter Sagan who were first and second on a day that Orica-GreenEdge had hoped it would get revenge for the decision by the race jury to penalise Matt Goss 30 points for his sprint in stage 12. Goss, however, was one of the men eliminated and he would finish well behind and his main rival for the green jersey missed out on a fourth stage win by about half a wheel. The winner of the stage is now ranked second in the points classification and his third win in the 2012 Tour sees him 29 points ahead of Goss and 34 points behind the runner-up in Le Cap d'Agde.

The progress report
The 217km stage from St-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Le Cap d'Agde began at 11.55am with 194 riders still in the race. The intermediate sprint was in Mas-de-Londres at 128.5km and the only climb of the stage came with 23km to go: that was the category-three Mont Saint-Clair. As soon as the flag fell to signal the start, Burghardt (BMC) sped ahead but he was quickly chased down and, at 1.5km, there were five in the lead: Urtasun (EUS), Dumoulin (COF), Ladagnous (FDJ), Morkov (STB) and Curvers (ARG). This group was chased down by Bouet and Engoulvent (SAU) at 7km, by then the peloton was at 2'55” and there was one man in a counter-attack: Pineau (OPQ) who was at 1'10”. Gallopin (RNT) quit the race early in the stage citing an illness that he's had for a couple of days. Pineau joined the lead group at 15km and, around the same time, Orica-GreenEdge came to the front of the peloton. Still, the advantage of the eight at the front grew quickly: 6'00” at 29km, 9'20” at 35km.... the average speed for the first hour was 41.8km/h.

Orica-GreenEdge pursue the eight escapees
The maximum gain of the break was 9'20” and then Orica's efforts slowly but surely reeled them in: 7'05” at 53km; 6'30” at 58km... and it kept on falling until there was just 3'40” between the lead group and the bunch at the intermediate sprint. The average speed for the third hour was 42km/h. Urtasun led the escape over the line for the sprint and Orica had the strength of numbers on the approach to the race for seven points but Sagan (LIQ) easily accounted for his main rival in the points classification and led Greipel and Goss to the line 3'40” behind the escapees. The peloton was speeding along, bringing the escapees back quickly after passing through Argelliers (with 74km to go) when the escapees were just 2'10” ahead.

Morkov insists with escape
On the five year anniversary of his father's death, Morkov was insistent on trying to win a stage of the Tour. He attacked the lead group with 64km to go and within 2km he had a lead of 20” on the seven other escapees. With 55km to go, he was 30” ahead (while the peloton was at 2'40”). There was a tailwind at the time of his attack but it would turn to crosswinds inside the final 40km. The average speed for the fourth hour was 47.2km/h.
With 36km to go, BMC moved to the front of the peloton and caused a split in the peloton but all the GC favourites made the first selection. Morkov had a lead of 40” at the base of the final climb but the gradient was too much for him. He was caught before the top.

Mont Saint-Clair eliminates sprinters
Zingle (COF) and Caruso (KAT) attacked the peloton early on the climb but the steep gradient was too much for these opportunists to hold off the GC men. Van den Broeck crested the Mont Saint-Clair hill in first, with Evans second. There were about 25 in the lead group after the climb but Goss, Farrar, Cavendish and a large group lost contact with the first peloton. Vinokourov (AST) attacked the front group with 16km to go and Albasini (OGE) chased him down. With 10km to go they had a lead of 25” on the yellow jersey's bunch that was led by five Lotto-Belisol riders, with Sagan right on the wheel of Greipel. And these two riders would contest the sprint for stage honours.

Wiggins leads out the sprint
With 2.5km to go, Vinokourov and Albasini were caught and this prompted an attack from Sanchez (RAB) but he was caught as the bunch passed under the 1km to go banner. With 900m to go, Wiggins was in the lead as he had Boasson Hagen on his wheel and the Sky team looked like it might just be able to grab its fourth stage win but the Norwegian couldn't hold off the charge by Greipel and Sagan who drag raced each other to the line with the German winning this battle with a late lunge to the line. It is Greipel's third stage win in the 2012 Tour.
Boasson Hagen was third and Wiggins was home safely in 12th place; he will wear the yellow jersey in stage 14.

Stage 13 Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux / Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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