Tour de France Report: Stage 13
The 101st Tour de France continues through July 27. Click through to read our report of Stages 13.
Location: Saint-Etienne to Chamrousse
Duration: 197.5km/ 122.72mi
Terrain: Mountain Stage (one category 3 climb, one category 1 climb, and one HC (uncategorizable climb)
Weather: 25C/ 77F – 10km/hr Winds
Why you should care: Today marks the first day that the Tour de France 2014 is in the Alps, where the most notoriously difficult and decisive mountain stages of the Tour take place. Current yellow jersey wearer Vincenzo Nibali has announced that he would like to add time to his overall lead, but he certainly won’t go uncontested. The top five GC riders behind him in the overall are all experienced climbers, including two French riders who lay claim to this terrain.
The Alpine stages being the most difficult of the Tour de France means that the King of the Mountains (KOM) jersey would be much coveted by rivals of current jersey holder Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez. Though Purito began the stage as a strong leader at 17 points ahead of Thomas Voeckler, runner-up to the KOM, Voeckler is a previous KOM jersey holder and expected to be quite a threat.
Further proof that cycling is the worst sport to gamble on, and a testament to the difficulty of the stage: Nothing went as planned.
Just when it seemed that Voeckler and his team were gearing up for an attack on the KOM at around 60km to go, race radio announced that Voeckler was having trouble. With his team still leading the peloton, Voeckler started falling towards the back of the pack, unable to attack.
Far from uncontested, Purito’s biggest threat became Alessandro De Marchi, who broke away on his own at 57km to go, threatening not only to move up in the KOM standings, but to take over the title.
Finally within only 20km left in stage, De Marchi was caught on the final HC col, and was named the Most Aggressive rider of the day.
With the group all together climbing the Montée de Chamrousse, the front of the pack consisted of Nibali, Tejay Van Garderen, Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot, and Alejandro Valverde – all riders in the top 10 for the overall classification.
Valverde attacked at 10.4km to go, but was chased down and caught by Nibali and Pinot, who rode all together with a few non-threatening attacks until the 3.3km mark when – in a now-familiar move – Nibali attacked. And this time no one could follow. Once again the leader of the Tour de France risked his overall status for the stage win – a move that is either a great use of able legs, or a selfish bid for glory. Either way, in the Tour, when you’ve got “moves like Jagger” (that’s Lance Jagger), it’s time to have the talk. Unsurprisingly, the doping debate has already begun.
Back for a second day in the Alps tomorrow and the overall is still up for grabs. Nibali may seem like he has a choke hold on the overall lead and the KOM competition, but his top rivals are climbers, and the Alps are their playground.
Who do you think will win the next stage? Sound off in the comments board below.