Vaison-La-Romaine–July 14, 2013 –By Jen Benepe
On a blistering hot day, the Tour de France saw a long breakaway, but once the riders were on their way up Mont Ventoux, it was clear that this would be the battle of the great GC riders.
In the end, Chris Froome thrashed it out mano a mano with Movistar rider Nairo Quintana all the way up the last 15 km of the climb of the shrub and tree naked Ventoux, and 1.5 km to the finish Froome decided enough was enough, and he took off and Quintana just couldn’t follow.
“The strategy was to get the maximum time for the GC but also to get to the top with Nairo Quintana,” said Froome after the stage.
He admitted that he expected Quintana to take the stage, “but he faded two kilometers from the top. ”
The Kenyan born Brit who has been making headlines since left on his own with Sir Bradley Wiggins out of the Tour acknowledged the historic and emotional nature of a win on Ventoux: “This had got to be the biggest win of my career.”
Mikel Nieve who had battled it out near the end behind them with Joaquim Rodriguez of the Katusha team, powered up in the final seconds coming in third.
Now Froome has been able to increase his advantage over Mollema and Contador by 4 minutes and 15 seconds, and 4 minutes and 25 seconds respectively. “Obviously I am going to try and get as much as an advantage as I can get,” Froome said in reference to Contador during the press conference following the stage.
Thousands of spectators hugged the sides of the roads leading to Vaison La Romaine, then Malaucene at the foot of Mont Ventoux. Their presence must have been a big boost to the Brit, who later thanked the crowds for their applause which he said was “enormous.”
Some of the media compared Froome to previous greats who had breached the summit in similar grand fashion, among them Lance Armstrong, and Eddy Merckx.
It was hot beyond imagination, where standing in the sun would only be tolerated by the most impassioned of cycling fans. It was beyond normal experience what the riders must have been feeling. Add to that, a depletion of oxygen as they neared the summit.
You could see the sweat and the effort hanging from the face of Froome whose pale skin looked like it might melt in the sun, and every attack he made on Quintana was met with a counter-effort. Colombian Quintana looked like it was almost no effort for him to pursue everyone one of Froome’s attacks.
But in the end he melted.
Early on in the stage there was a breakaway that involved 10 riders and with 115.5km to go the peloton was 3’55” behind
Peter Sagan (CAN), Irizar, (RTL), Pierrick Fedrigo and Roy (FDJ), Cristophe Riblon (ALM), Losada (KAT), Sylvain Chavanel (OPQ), Daryl Impey (OGE), Poels (VCD), El Fares (SOJ) had a lead of 3’55” as the peloton arrived at the feedzon.
That lead group eventually narrowed to nine riders, including Sagan (CAN), Irizar, (RTL), Fedrigo and Roy (FDJ), Riblon (ALM), Losada (EUS), Chavanel (OPQ), Impey (OGE), Poels (VCD), but El Fares (SOJ) had been dropped.
They were inside of the final kilometer of the fourth climb and had a lead of 3’20”.
Those leaders were still ahead when they had another 25 km to go before beginning the ascent of Mont Ventoux, and they were 3’40” ahead of the peloton that was being led by the Movistar team.
With 19 km to go the peloton was 1 minute and 43 seconds ahead. Sky was still pushing the pace, and tucked in behind them was Omega Pharma Quickstep.
At 28 km to the top, the Sky Team was up front of the peloton pushing a punishing pace. How any one of these riders could hang on maybe perhaps beyond the normal person’s experience.
Sylvain Chavanel took off from the rest of the group as he headed for the summit of Mont Ventoux. Three riders were now behind him one minute and 39 seconds behind.
Meanwhile in the back Schleck had been shedded off the back of the peloton, and he was more than 8 minutes behind the leaders.
Chavanel seemed to be having the time of his life for the 14th of July, a national holiday in France, while in the chase peloton, Peter Sagan showed off briefly for the television cameras by doing a couple of wheelies.
Andy Schelck was trailing and became 8 minutes 52 seconds behind the leaders
Soon two RadioSchack Leopard riders were working together ahead of the peloton, and behind the lead group, Bakelants and Irizar. But Irizar could not contain the pace, and dropped back into the peloton.
Then Mikel Nieve Iturrade of the Euskaltel team attacked off the front of the chase peloton with Chavanael 24 seconds ahead.
Then Movistar Nairo Quintana rider attacked off the front of the peloton, with Mikel Nieve Iturrade following.
The Sky Team continued to climb behind the four ahead, with Contador on the wheel of Froome, who looked like he was suffering from the heat. Soon Chavanel dropped back, as did Bakelants, leaving only Nieve-Iturrade in the front, followed by Quintana.
Cadel Evans was dropped by the Yellow Jersey group and was now 6 minutes and 54 seconds back.
With 10 km to go Nieve Iturrade was still ahead and being pursued by Quintana—who slowly moved in on his prey.
Froome, Porte and Kennaugh (SKY), De Clercq (LTB), Evans and Morabito (BMC), Monfort (RTL), Fuglsang (AST), Peraud and Bardet (ALM), Contador, Rogers, Hernandez, Kreuziger (TST), Rodriguez and Moreno (KAT), Valverde (MOV), Kwiatkowski (OPQ), Gesink, Mollema and Ten Dam (BEL), Martin and Talanksy (GRS) were the riders in the yellow jersey peloton.
Bakelants was dropped less than 10 km from the summit
Froome continued to power up the mountain with Porte in front of him, and Contador on his weekl
Then Froome took off and he was following Quintana. They were 7 km before the finish.
Then Froome attacked hard, up the front, with 7.1 km to go, dumping Contador on the mountain, he was going after the Moviestar and Euskaltel riders ahead
Fans chased the two leaders and blew red smoke in their faces
Froome attacked again, and left Quintanta on the hill. He was now ahead with Quintana trailing. Iturrade and Contazdor were riding behind together.
Quintana looked way too comfortable on Froome’s wheel. Then Quintana moved ahead. Iturrade and Contador exchanged words they were 18 seconds behind the leaders, then 30 seconds.
There was 4 km to go now. Froome was ahead, Quintana sitting comfortably on his wheel. Froome tried to shake him but he couldn’t. Then the two were talking. What kind of deal did they make? “You win the stage, I stay in place.”
Then Froome went ahead again—he couldn’t shake him. Nope, there was no deal.
As they approached the top of Mont Ventoux, its moonlike structure took over.
Contador and Nieve were 54 seconds behind them
Fnally Froome pushed up ahead of Quintana 1.2 km from the front: Quintana was broken.
Frooome made it to the top, Quintanq was 20 seconds back
Iturrade made it third on the stage.
Overall individual time classification
Total distance covered: 2568 KM
|1.||GBRFROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||61h 11′ 43”|
|2.||NEDMOLLEMA Bauke||164||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||61h 15′ 57”||+ 04′ 14”|
|3.||ESPCONTADOR Alberto||91||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||61h 16′ 08”||+ 04′ 25”|
|4.||CZEKREUZIGER Roman||94||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||61h 16′ 11”||+ 04′ 28”|
|5.||NEDTEN DAM Laurens||167||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||61h 16′ 37”||+ 04′ 54”|
|6.||COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||61h 17′ 30”||+ 05′ 47”|
|7.||DENFUGLSANG Jakob||63||ASTANA PRO TEAM||61h 18′ 05”||+ 06′ 22”|
|8.||ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||101||KATUSHA TEAM||61h 18′ 54”||+ 07′ 11”|
|9.||FRAPÉRAUD Jean-Christophe||81||AG2R LA MONDIALE||61h 19′ 30”||+ 07′ 47”|
|10.||POLKWIATKOWSKI Michal||153||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||61h 19′ 41”||+ 07′ 58”|
|11.||IRLMARTIN Daniel||175||GARMIN – SHARP||61h 20′ 11”||+ 08′ 28”|
|12.||AUSROGERS Michael||98||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||61h 21′ 37”||+ 09′ 54”|
|13.||USATALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN – SHARP||61h 24′ 15”||+ 12′ 32”|
|14.||BELMONFORT Maxime||47||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||61h 25′ 30”||+ 13′ 47”|
|15.||ESPVALVERDE Alejandro||121||MOVISTAR TEAM||61h 26′ 25”||+ 14′ 42”|
|16.||AUSEVANS Cadel||31||BMC RACING TEAM||61h 27′ 23”||+ 15′ 40”|
|17.||ESPNIEVE ITURRALDE Mikel||116||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||61h 29′ 55”||+ 18′ 12”|
|18.||LUXSCHLECK Andy||41||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||61h 30′ 57”||+ 19′ 14”|
|19.||ESPMORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel||106||KATUSHA TEAM||61h 33′ 25”||+ 21′ 42”|