It was a day that every one was talking about long in advance.
The riders would climb two times up the Alpe D’Huez!
And at least two Frenchman had their eye on the prize, one was Pierre Rolland of Europcar who got into an early break, and was ahead of the peloton before the last (and second) Alpe d’Huez climb.
But it was Cristophe Riblon who won the day after an aggressive day of racing. Now he can claim the first time for a Tour victory this year for him and the team.
Perhaps there was double reason to do so, because everything seems to be coming in twos these last couple of days: Another Frenchman Jean Cristophe Peraud of the same team AGR2 Mondiale who had been running ninth overall before the start of the individual time trial on Wednesday, crashed on his training run and broke his clavicle.
Despite his injuries, he decided to race later that day, and crashed a second time a few kilometers from the finish line. Peraud has now abandoned the Tour.
Perhaps teammate Riblon was inspired to right Peraud’s bad luck.
The final placements of riders kept Froome still in first position, and Contador second. But now, also because of his aggressiveness after the final climb, Nairo Quintana is now third overall.
Roman Kreuziger, who worked in tandem with his teammate Alberto Contador is now in 4th position.
To comprehend how the riders would (and could) climb the Alpe d’Huez twice, first they rode from Gap to l’Alpe D’Huez starting on the same route that they traveled into Gap two days ago in stage 16 –the Col de Manse, (yes, that crazy, twisty, switch-back of a road where Alberto Contador attacked off the front of the GC contender peloton group; and also where, ahead of them, Rui Costa of Movistar had
attacked off the front of a lead break group.)
That was just the beginning of their route this morning, that would take them from Gap to Bourg l’Oisans, then up 12.3 km to the top of the hors categorie, l’Alpe d’Huez with an average 8.4% grade.
From there, they rode past the summit up the Col de Sarenne, which included a 3 km climb at an average 7.8 % grade, only to plunge down the back of the col along a twisting, vertiginous descent, to end up back at the base of the Alpe d’Huez, and to climb it a second time for another 13.8 km at 8.1% grade.
Let’s put it this way. If you were shredded off the back by the first climb and descent, then you were likely to be doubly shredded by the time you made it to the second time up the Alpe. And those riders who came down the back of the Col de Sarenne were very much among the first to come to the finish line on the second time around.
We assembled ourselves midpoint of the descent of the back of Col de Sarenne, at a 180 degree turn. A crowd had gathered and the road was closed.
A sense of anticipation was in the air. It had rained on and off for much of the day, but now it was dry. This was the place in the road where riders slowed almost to a crawl to perfect the turn.
Near me, there was a couple from Texas rooting for Peter Sagan,and they had scrawled his name on the ground in red paint–paint that was handed to them by a Gendarme: a couple from the Netherlands: a man and his two young children from the Netherlands, one a 9-year-old who could identify every rider that went by; and a man who spoke only Italian but was calling a friend with updates every five minutes.
As the riders started coming down the hill, everyone had a camera out, a cell phone, or a video camera. Even some of the Gendarmerie (police) had cameras.
First, eight break riders came through the turn, not together but strung out more than 20 to 30 seconds apart.
The first rider through the corner was Moser, then came Cristophe Riblon, followed by Tejay van Garderen.
In another group of three several men back was Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde, followed by Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger.
Several riders behind them was the first peloton chase group that had splintered groups behind them, and that one had Yellow Jersey leader Chris Froome.
This corner was a set-up of what was to come, and who would finish strongest in the final climb up the Alpe D’Huez.
On the second ascent of Alpe d’Huez, three men arrived at the bottom in Bourg d’Oisans together: Van Garderen, Riblon and Moser.
The American attacked early, and rode all the way to the 2.4 km to go mark on his own with Riblon in pursuit: he lost up to 40” but then
clawed his way back up.
Once Riblon caught Van Garderen he immediately attacked. He went on to claim his team’s first victory in the 100th Tour de France and the first for France beating the Coloradan by 59”.
Meanwhile, there were significant changes to GC taking place.
Mollema and Ten Dam, who were among those in the early break, cracked in the first kilometre of the final climb, sliding down the rankings from 4th and 7th to 6th and 10th by the time the stage was over.
Up ahead Nairo Quintana attacked and Froome followed. This prompted a pursuit from the Katusha: Moreno and Rodriguez set the pace of the Yellow Jersey group and this eliminated Contador and Kreuziger from the group with about 12 km to climb (they had come back together with the group after the last descent.)
With 5 km to climb, Van Garderen led the stage with an advantage of 40 seconds on Riblon while behind Froome was in a crisis and was calling for the team car, though it wasn’t clear what the problem was.
Froome was ultimately paced to the line by Porte and they finished 1’13” behind Quintana and 3’18” behind the stage winner.
Froome was seventh in the stage and gained time on his nearest rival, Contador (who dropped down to 5’11” behind). The Spaniard was 11th in the stage and lost 57” to Froome but the fact that he was helped to the finish by Rogers and Kreuziger means that there are three from the Saxo-Tinkoff team in the top 10 overall: Contador 2nd, Kreuziger 4th and Rogers 8th.
Quintana moved up to third overall with his fourth place in the stage. He now has 97 pts in the climbing classification, seven less than Froome who still leads this category as well as the overall rankings.
Overall individual time classification
Total distance covered: 2940.5 KM
|1.||GBRFROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||71h 02′ 19”|
|2.||ESPCONTADOR Alberto||91||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||71h 07′ 30”||+ 05′ 11”|
|3.||COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||71h 07′ 51”||+ 05′ 32”|
|4.||CZEKREUZIGER Roman||94||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||71h 08′ 03”||+ 05′ 44”|
|5.||ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||101||KATUSHA TEAM||71h 08′ 17”||+ 05′ 58”|
|6.||NEDMOLLEMA Bauke||164||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||71h 11′ 17”||+ 08′ 58”|
|7.||DENFUGLSANG Jakob||63||ASTANA PRO TEAM||71h 11′ 52”||+ 09′ 33”|
|8.||AUSROGERS Michael||98||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||71h 16′ 45”||+ 14′ 26”|
|9.||POLKWIATKOWSKI Michal||153||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||71h 16′ 57”||+ 14′ 38”|
|10.||NEDTEN DAM Laurens||167||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||71h 16′ 58”||+ 14′ 39”|
|11.||ESPVALVERDE Alejandro||121||MOVISTAR TEAM||71h 17′ 15”||+ 14′ 56”|
|12.||USATALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN – SHARP||71h 18′ 43”||+ 16′ 24”|
|13.||ESPNAVARRO Daniel||139||COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS||71h 21′ 37”||+ 19′ 18”|
|14.||BELMONFORT Maxime||47||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||71h 22′ 15”||+ 19′ 56”|
|15.||ESPNIEVE ITURRALDE Mikel||116||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||71h 26′ 32”||+ 24′ 13”|
|16.||ESPMORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel||106||KATUSHA TEAM||71h 32′ 24”||+ 30′ 05”|
|17.||FRABARDET Romain||82||AG2R LA MONDIALE||71h 33′ 04”||+ 30′ 45”|
|18.||LUXSCHLECK Andy||41||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||71h 33′ 38”||+ 31′ 19”|
|19.||IRLMARTIN Daniel||175||GARMIN – SHARP||71h 36′ 41”||+ 34′ 22”|
|20.||AUSPORTE Richie||6||SKY PROCYCLING||71h 40′ 01”||+ 37′ 42”|
|21.||BELBAKELANTS Jan||42||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||71h 42′ 27”||+ 40′ 08”|
|22.||COLSERPA José||149||LAMPRE – MERIDA||71h 43′ 24”||+ 41′ 05”|
|23.||FRACHAVANEL Sylvain||152||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||71h 43′ 32”||+ 41′ 13”|
|24.||ESPANTON Igor||111||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||71h 44′ 28”||+ 42′ 09”|
|25.||NEDGESINK Robert||162||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||71h 46′ 07”||+ 43′ 48”|
|26.||FRAGADRET John||86||AG2R LA MONDIALE||71h 46′ 43”||+ 44′ 24”|
|27.||SUIMORABITO Steve||36||BMC RACING TEAM||71h 47′ 05”||+ 44′ 46”|
|28.||FRAROLLAND Pierre||51||TEAM EUROPCAR||71h 48′ 00”||+ 45′ 41”|
|29.||AUSEVANS Cadel||31||BMC RACING TEAM||71h 48′ 35”||+ 46′ 16”|
|30.||SVKVELITS Peter||159||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||71h 48′ 58”||+ 46′ 39”|
|31.||NEDPOELS Wouter||201||VACANSOLEIL-DCM||71h 52′ 15”||+ 49′ 56”|
|32.||PORCOSTA Rui Alberto||124||MOVISTAR TEAM||71h 53′ 15”||+ 50′ 56”|
The progress report
The answer is 42. Or so they say. In stage 18 many other questions were answered about who the strongest in the 100th Tour de France is as this was the anticipated stage from Gap to Alpe d’Huez that boasted two ascents of the famous 21-hairpin climb to the ski station in the Isère department. After almost three weeks of racing in dry conditions, the heavens opened and rain fell for much of the day. There were 177 riders at the sign on with Jean-Christophe Peraud (ALM) the casualty of the time trial to Chorges in stage 17. On the itinerary for the final Thursday of Le Tour 2013 were six categorised climbs: the col de Manse (cat-2 at 13km), Rampe du Motty (cat-3 at 45km), col d’Ormon (cat-3 at 95km), the first ascent of Alpe d’Huez (‘HC’ at 122.5km), the col de Sarenne (cat-2 at 131.5km) followed by the climb to the finish at Alpe d’Huez where double points were on offer.
At 17 km, nine riders broke free and the riders involved were Voigt (RTL), Jeannesson (FDJ), Riblon (ALM), Amador (MOV), Chavanel (OPQ), Boom (BEL), Danielson (GRS), van Garderen (BMC), Moser (CAN). At 30km, they were ahead by 3’00” and rain started to fall. Those riders were the same who managed to stay ahead of the peloton as it passed over the Alpe for the first time.
Van Garderen was consistently aggressive in the stage, as was Riblon.
Van Garderen attacked the lead group at the base of the first climb up Alpe d’Huez. The counter-attack was at 6’15” and the peloton at 7’35”. Rolland and Voeckler attacked the peloton and were joined by Poels (VCD) and Nieve (EUS).
Sky had five riders at the head of the peloton that also saw a brief sortie from Talansky (GRS) around the halfway mark of the climb and he was followed by Schleck: the American was caught quickly but the Luxembourger bridged the gap to Nieve’s group while Voeckler dropped back to the peloton. Moser and Riblon caught van Garderen in the last kilometre of the climb and Moser led over the top. Voigt was 4th at 55”, Danielson 5th at 1’30”, Jeannesson 6th at 1’40”, Boom 7th at 2’15”, Amador 8th at 2’45” and Chavanel 9th at 3’05”. The Schleck/Nieve/Rolland/Poels group was at 7’20” and the peloton was behind by 8’18” at the top.
Contador cracks; Froome falters…
On the second ascent of Alpe d’Huez, three men arrived at the bottom together: Van Garderen, Riblon and Moser. The American attacked early. He would ride all the way to the 2.4km to go mark on his own but Riblon never gave up hope: he lost up to 40” but then slowed clawed his way back up to the leader. Once Riblon caught Van Garderen he immediately attacked and would go on to claim his team’s first victory in the 100th Tour de France and the first for France. He beat his American rival by 59”. Meanwhile, there were significant changes to GC taking place. Mollema and Ten Dam cracked in the first kilometre of the final climb and would slide down the rankings from 4th and 7th to 6th and 10th… and there was movement up ahead as Quintana attacked and Froome followed. This prompted a pursuit from the Katusha: Moreno and Rodriguez who set the pace of the yellow jersey group and this eliminated Contador and Kreuziger from the group with about 12km to climb.
With 5km to climb, Van Garderen led the stage with an advantage of 40” on Riblon while behind Froome found himself in a crisis and was calling for the team car… initially it seemed like it might have been a mechanical but there may have been more to it. Froome was ultimately paced to the line by Porte and the pair finished 1’13” behind Quintana and 3’18” behind the stage winner. Froome was seventh in the stage and gained time on his nearest rival, Contador (who dropped down to 5’11” behind). The Spaniard was 11th in the stage and lost 57” to Froome but the fact that he was helped to the finish by Rogers and Kreuziger means that there are three from the Saxo-Tinkoff team in the top 10 overall: Contador 2nd, Kreuziger 4th and Rogers 8th.