Le Grand Bornand, France—July 19, 2013—By Jen Benepe. © All rights reserved, Jen Benepe
Portuguese Movistar rider Rui Costa did it again, taking a chance at the head of a chase group to escape and take the final climb and descent to the finish in the Alps.
“I waited until the last mountain then I did the same thing as at Gap,” said Costa who won the stage coming to Gap by a big advantage. “I was in the escape, but I didn’t think of winning the stage until then.”
It was his second stage win at the 2013 Tour, in his fifth Tour de France.
Costa took advantage of his position in a 26-member chase group that followed two leaders initially, Pierre Rolland and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal.
Costa did it in the rain too, passing Pierre Rolland of the Europcar team who had been out for much of stage 19, and staying ahead up one of the toughest—and last mountain climbs, the Col de la Croix Fry.
Today’s 19thstage included two hors categories climbs right away, the first up the Col du Glandon, the second, the Col de la Madeleine,
with an average 7.9 percent grade.
There were three other climbs in the 204.5 km stage before the descent into Le Grand Bornand, a category 2 climb up the Col de Tamie, followed by the Col de l”epine, and the Col de la Croix Fry, both category one climbs with narrowing, dizzying switchbacks.
It was a big disappointment for French rider Rolland who nevertheless won the most combative honor of the day, and racked up climbing points, so that now with 103 points he is only one behind Froome’s 104.
“It was a long effort,” said the Frenchman who had worked alone for three of the biggest climbs, the most difficult among them, the Col de la Madeleine.
Andreas Kloden and Jan Bakelants, teammates in the RadioShack Leopard Trek team followed Costa from the same escape group, and staying away for the remainder of the climb, and into the descent, they were second and third across the finish line where, dirty, wet and tired, they hugged one another.
Despite numerous attacks, Chris Froome kept the Yellow Jersey. “It was one of the toughest [stages] of the Tour,” said Froome after the race. “The objective was to stay on the road and follow the favorites,” he added. “They attacked in the last mountain, in the rain no less. That was difficult and the last descent in the rain was dangerous.”
Alberto Contador is still in second place, and Nairo Quintana is in third. Quintana also still holds the best Young Rider (white) jersey.
Tomorrow Froome will spend his 11th day in the Yellow Jersey. He admitted that holding the leader’s jersey for 10 stages has been taxing. “It’s been over 10 days now. There’s a lot that comes with this jersey and its mentally quite hard to stay up in that, and to wake up each morning still motivated, hungry and ready for seconds.”
Does Froome expect to win the Yellow Jersey—which is often claimed in the penultimate stage, tomorrow? “It’s going to be hard for someone to take the Yellow Jersey, but I don’t want to be complacent,” he answered.
He definitely shouldn’t be: Quintana told reporters today that he won’t rule out a final number one on the podium in Paris for himself.
The Blow by Blow
At the Col de la Madeleine
At the Col de la Madeleine, already two riders were more than 8 minutes ahead of the Yellow Jersey peloton, Ryder Hesjedal of team Garmin, and R. Izaguirre of Euskaltel.
As they approached the climb, Pierre Roland of the Europcar team took a flyer off the front, and made some distance ahead of a chase group.
The Canadian Hesjedal soon took off, dropping Izaguirre. He continued alone up the Col de Madeleine, and soon established a distance of 10 minutes and 33 seconds ahead of the Yellow Jersey group.
They had already passed the first hors categorie climb on the Col de Glandon, which—by the way—we drove yesterday. By car it is very
difficult, with interminable twists and turns both up and down. One can only imagine how it was for the riders.
By now, Rolland was in hot pursuit and he was 50 seconds behind the Garmin rider. Last year in the Tour, Rolland was the first up the Col de la Madeleine.
Behind Rolland was Izaguirre by one minute and 30 seconds: he had been dropped by both riders.
At the front of the Yellow Jersey group, the Sky team pushed the pace. Tucked in behind them was Alberto Contador surrounded by his Saxo-Tinkoff teammates.
There were a couple of groups in between, one minute and thirty seconds behind the leader Hesjedal, were Rui Costa, and Serpa.
More than 3 minutes behind was a group that included yesterday’s stage winner AGR2 Mondiale rider, Cristophe Riblon, as well as Nikki Terpstra, Mikel Nieve, Johnny Hoogerland, Robert Gesink, Juan Antonio Flecha, El Fares, and others.
Now Hesjedal was 7.8 km from the top of col de la Madeleine: he would have a steep and tortuous descent ahead of him, lacking guardrails, with straight drops down off the side of the road.
On the ascent to the Col de la Madeleine, the 2011 Tour winner Cadel Evans who races for BMC was in trouble, and was losing contact with the peloton.
Now the Yellow Jersey was more than 11 minutes behind the leader Hesjedal.
Finally at the summit, Rolland caught Hesjedal and passed the summit ahead of him for 25 points towards the Polka Dot jersey: now he had 76 points, one less than Riblon, 28 fewer than the Yellow Jersey, Chris Froome, but only 21 fewer than the Polka Dot jersey holder, Nairo Quintana. Mikel Nieve of the Euskaltel team was in pursuit of the two leaders. Jan Bakelants was the 4th up the summit. Ahead of them was a 30 km descent.
Now the deficit to the Yellow Jersey group was more than 12 minutes. Leading the climb, the Sky team appeared to be suffering from the effort.
Three more mountains to climb: Was the Tour really over, as some people have been saying, after Froome made his advantage in the Pyrenees?
Descending from Col de la Madeleine, On the way to Col de Tamie
Now Hesjedal, Rolland and Nieve were together and heading for the next 8.6 km, 6.2 % grade climb up the Col de Tamie. It started to rain, but the roads weren’t wet yet.
Roche and Contador took control at the front of the Yellow Jersey peloton, and ahead, Rolland and Hesjedal were still in descent, Nieve had dropped back to the first chase group that included Gescke, Costa, Didier, Sicard, Kloden, and Feillu, and they were 4 minutes 40 seconds behind the leaders.
In the peloton, French champion Arthur Vichot of the team FDJ took a spill and looked hurt as he got up and walked with some
Now Contador’s Saxo-Tinkoff was in control over the peloton group, and they were 11 minutes 28 seconds behind. Froome was tucked in neatly behind them in about 7th position.
On the Tamie, the Epine, and the Croix Fry ahead, the roads would be lined with people, sure to provide both excitement and distraction for the riders.
The times to the chase groups from the leaders started to come down.
Before the climb to the Tamie, there would be a sprint in Albertville, a large local town where we spent the night last night at a very nice Bed and Breakfast in the middle of town.
The two leaders were together at the sprint, with Hesjedal first, but at the climb to Tamie, Rolland had dropped the Garmin rider and had added a distance of 10 seconds.
The chase group was 2 minutes and 50 seconds behind, getting closer by the kilometer. On the faces of the riders led by Izaguire, was heat and pain.
After the Tamie, and the descent into Faverges, a real fight to the finish would start.
The peloton was 10 minutes 33 seconds behind, and the pace was still being driven by the Saxo-Tinkoff team. Behind them, Cadel Evans was in a group with Mark Cavendish, some 3 minutes 30 seconds behind the Yellow Jersey group.
Rolland had promised on the rest day that he was going to make an escape one day in the days that were left. That was last Monday.
Today is Thursday. He tried on the way to L’Alpe d’Huez, but did not have success. He had 65.4 km to go.
Nairo Quintana, who wore the Polka Dot jersey at the end of the last stage, had been dropped by the Yellow Jersey group: no more gas.
Then Hesjedal was caught by the chase group. There were 21 riders and they were now only one minute and 47 seconds behind Rolland.
But Rolland passed the top alone and took another 5 points. The peloton –still being paced by Saxo-Tinkoff, was more than 10 minutes back with 5 km to go to the top of the Tamie.
Now there was to more climbs to go before the descent into le Grand Bornand: Could Rolland take another win for the French? He had more than 52 km to go, and he was more than 11 minutes ahead of the Yellow Jersey.
“It’s not completely impossible,” commented the reporters for France2
Col de l’Epine, and Col de la Croix Fry
Now the chase group was a little more than a minute behind Rolland: the Frenchman was well on his way to the Col de l’Epine. It was the third time the Col would feature in a Tour de France. Rolland now had 93 points, and he was 4 short of the points held by Quintana.
In the Yellow Jersey peloton, Saxo-Tinkoff Nicolas Roche paced off the front: they were 10 minutes 52 seconds back.
As Rolland approached the summit of the Epine, the chase group was one minute and 20 seconds behind. Rolland was 42.7 km from the finish. The chase was dropping back! They were one minute and 49 seconds in deficit.
Over the top of l’Epine, and now Rolland had 103 points for the Polka Dot jersey, one less than the Yellow Jersey holder Chris Froome, who had 104.
Now the only thing that lay in front of him was the last climb, the Col de La Croix Fry, and it wasn’t going to be easy. It would be eleven kilometers at an average grade of 11 percent, with narrow, winding, steep and short switchbacks and a huge screaming crowd that would either help or hinder.
But on the final climb to Col de la Croix Fry, it was Movistar’s Rui Costa who took a flyer off the front of the chase group. The skies opened up, and he established a lead over that group, then passed Rolland.
Soon thereafter behind him, Team RadioShack Leopard’s Andreas Kloden and Jan Bakelants attacked and went in pursuit of Costa. But as they completed the climb, and made the descent into Le Grand Bornand, Costa kept the two RadioShack riders at bay. Costa came in first, with Kloden following, and Bakelants third.
But some of the biggest cheers from fans were saved for Rolland who had stayed out in front for two of the climbs. He is now one point away (at 103 points) from taking the Polka Dot jersey that is currently held by Chris Froome (104 points).
Overall individual time classification
Total distance covered: 3145 KM
|1.||GBRFROOME Christopher||1||SKY PROCYCLING||77h 10′ 00”|
|2.||ESPCONTADOR Alberto||91||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||77h 15′ 11”||+ 05′ 11”|
|3.||COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||128||MOVISTAR TEAM||77h 15′ 32”||+ 05′ 32”|
|4.||CZEKREUZIGER Roman||94||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||77h 15′ 44”||+ 05′ 44”|
|5.||ESPRODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin||101||KATUSHA TEAM||77h 15′ 58”||+ 05′ 58”|
|6.||NEDMOLLEMA Bauke||164||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||77h 18′ 58”||+ 08′ 58”|
|7.||DENFUGLSANG Jakob||63||ASTANA PRO TEAM||77h 19′ 33”||+ 09′ 33”|
|8.||ESPNAVARRO Daniel||139||COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS||77h 22′ 33”||+ 12′ 33”|
|9.||ESPVALVERDE Alejandro||121||MOVISTAR TEAM||77h 24′ 56”||+ 14′ 56”|
|10.||POLKWIATKOWSKI Michal||153||OMEGA PHARMA-QUICK STEP||77h 26′ 08”||+ 16′ 08”|
|11.||NEDTEN DAM Laurens||167||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||77h 26′ 09”||+ 16′ 09”|
|12.||USATALANSKY Andrew||178||GARMIN – SHARP||77h 26′ 24”||+ 16′ 24”|
|13.||ESPNIEVE ITURRALDE Mikel||116||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||77h 27′ 49”||+ 17′ 49”|
|14.||AUSROGERS Michael||98||TEAM SAXO-TINKOFF||77h 29′ 04”||+ 19′ 04”|
|15.||BELMONFORT Maxime||47||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||77h 30′ 00”||+ 20′ 00”|
|16.||FRABARDET Romain||82||AG2R LA MONDIALE||77h 34′ 53”||+ 24′ 53”|
|17.||ESPMORENO FERNANDEZ Daniel||106||KATUSHA TEAM||77h 40′ 22”||+ 30′ 22”|
|18.||BELBAKELANTS Jan||42||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||77h 43′ 12”||+ 33′ 12”|
|19.||NEDGESINK Robert||162||BELKIN PRO CYCLING||77h 47′ 11”||+ 37′ 11”|
|20.||AUSPORTE Richie||6||SKY PROCYCLING||77h 47′ 53”||+ 37′ 53”|
|21.||LUXSCHLECK Andy||41||RADIOSHACK LEOPARD||77h 48′ 08”||+ 38′ 08”|
|22.||COLSERPA José||149||LAMPRE – MERIDA||77h 50′ 40”||+ 40′ 40”|