Friday July 12th, 2013

Stage 13Tours / Saint-Amand-Montrond

Start 13h25 GMT 2+

Cavendish's 25th win after an epic GC bout

Stage summary12.07.2013Stage 13- Tours / Saint-Amand-Montrond

The 13th stage was one of back luck for the rider ranked second in the general classification; in the middle of a bout of action that was instigated by Omega Pharma-Quickstep at the 56km mark - and caused the peloton to split into three groups - the Movistar team leader had a rear puncture. Ultimately five team-mates waited for Valverde who suffered his mechanical at the 84km mark. He lost 37» to the yellow jersey's group that was paced by Belkin and Omega riders at a time when the second pelotonw as behind by 1'20». After a furious chase, Plaza (MOV) lost contact with the Valverde sextet and this prompted the Movistar group to wait for the second peloton that still had a fair chase on its hands to catch the yellow jersey group. Valverde was the biggest loser from his misfortune but the race was on in earnest from the moment 84km to go mark and he ultimately trailed in almost 10 minutes behind the stage winner.
Yes, Mark Cavendish won. Of course he did. But this was far from a standard sprint stage. It was a huge bout by the GC rivals and one cunning team that, as a collective, won the 'Fighting Spirit' award. Omega Pharma started battle, a puncture knocked a favourite out, and the Saxo-Tinkoff kept on punching through to the end when it realised that Froome was vulnerable. This was a day when a sprinter won, but many of the GC specialists lost. Froome keeps his overall lead but it was anything but an easy task. He is now 2'28» ahead of second, Bauke Mollema with Alberto Contador edging closer to the overall lead, just 2'45» behind the Sky team's leader.
The best sprinter of this generation won his 25th Tour de France stage in St-Amand Montrond but it's not the sprint that this epic bout will be remembered for. This was a fight that knocked Valverde out of GC contention and benefited the Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin teams enormously. The mountains await but the action continues as the 100th Tour races towards Lyon in stage 14.

The progress report
The 173km stage from Tours to St-Amand-Montrond began at 1.30pm after the longest neutral zone so far this year (14.3km). There were 181 riders in the race with Boasson Hagen (SKY) the non-starter because of a fractured right scapula. The conditions were warm with temperatures over 30 degrees during the stage that featured only one categorised hill – the côte de Crotz (cat-4 at 77.5km). The intermediate sprint was in Saint-Aoustrille (112.5km).

Six go on the attack... Omega Pharma-Quickstep split the pack
At the 2km mark, Niemiec (LAM) went on the attack and he was joined by Perez (EUS), Gene (EUC), Maté (COF), Boeckmans (VCD) and Lemoine (SOJ) and although the peloton didn't react, they weren't given a lot of leeway. At 20km, they were ahead by 2'30”. It was a fast start to the stage with the opening hour raced at an average speed of 44.5km/h. At the 56km mark, seven riders from Omega Pharma-Quick went to the front of the peloton and did a strong acceleration that reeled in the escapees from 3'50” (the maximum gain of the break) to 2'20”. This move split the bunch into three but all the prize classification leaders – Froome (SKY), Sagan (CAN), Rolland (EUC) and Kwiatkowski (OPQ) – were present in the lead group while Kittel (ARG) was one of the riders in the second group (20” behind at the 67km mark) and Hesjedal (GRS) was in the third group (at 40”). With 100km to go, the first peloton was 1'00” behind the six stage leaders and the Kittel group was at 1'30”.

Valverde puncture causes crisis for Movistar...
With 96km to go, the first peloton caught the six escapees. The second peloton was 50” behind at the top of the climb (95km from the finish) were: Gilbert (BMC), Bardet (ALM), Kittel (ARG). Rolland grabbed the climbing point at Crotz. Belkin and Omega Pharma-Quickstep both had at least seven men in the front group and these two teams continued to set a high tempo that limited the chances of the bunches reforming. At the feedzone (84km), Valverde punctured and three Movistar team-mates waited for him and paced him back up to the peloton; he lost 37” with his wheel change. Belkin and Omega Pharma pushed the pace after Valverde's flat but Sky didn't try and take advantage of misfortune... with 77km to go, the Valverde group was caught by the second peloton that was 1'05” behind the yellow jersey's peloton.
Rolland also punctured (52km from the finish). Reza and Gautier waited for him but he too would have to wait for the second peloton that was 50” behind with 50km to go.

Saxo-Tinkoff do more damage
With 32km to go, five Saxo-Tinkoff team moved to the front and split the peloton, distancing the yellow jersey. With 22km to go, The riders in the lead of the stage are: Sagan (CAN), Bodnar (CAN), Fuglsang (AST), Contador (TST), Bennati (TST), Kreuziger (TST), Roche (TST), Rogers (TST), Tosatto (TST), Cavendish (OPQ), Chavanel (OPQ), Tepstra (OPQ), Mollema (BEL) and Ten Dam (BEL) were the riders in the front group. Froome was with Stannard, Kennaugh and Thomas in a group that was behind by 20”. The with 10km to go, the 14 were ahead of Froome's group by 45” and Valverde's group was over seven minutes behind. The gains for the leaders continued to grow all the way to the finish and Froome would lose 1'09” to Contador.

Cavendish collects a 25th stage win!
The panel voting for the ‘Fighting Spirit' award recognised the contribution of the entire Omega Pharma-Quickstep squad as the entire team was voted the most aggressive in the stage. (Mark Cavendish was called to the podium even before the sprint began as he was to be the team's representative for this prize that is usually only awarded to one rider.) Saxo-Tinkoff was the other dominant formation in a highly animated stage and six from the Danish team led until the 1,200m to go mark when Terpstra launched an attack. He was chased down and Chavanel then took over as the last lead-out man for Cavendish who marked Sagan all the way to the final 350m. The British champion began his sprint early and even Sagan bowed his head early in defeat; Cavendish beat the green jersey easily to win his 25th stage at the Tour de France from a group of just nine riders who were awarded ‘same time'. Contador was in this selection and the Saxo-Tinkoff team leader moved up from fourth to third overall. Mollema was third in the stage and moved up to second on GC as Valverde ultimately lost 9'54”!
Froome was 26th in the stage and he would continue to lead the Tour but his advantage to second placed Mollema was 2'28”. The Sky leader will wear the yellow jersey in stage 14.

Stage 13 Tours / Saint-Amand-Montrond

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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