Tour de France 2013: Stages 10 – 12
Stage 10 was a flat stage, a day for the sprinters, and an important one for Mark Cavendish and André Greipel. The two top sprinters would need to earn top points at both sprint checksin order to even begin to chip away at Peter Sagan’s 100 point lead.
Greipel won the intermediate sprint against Sagan and Cavendish, although Cavendish really wasn’t looking to expend a lot of energy on this sprint. The stage wins are more important for the British rider, who’s trying to beat the record of Eddy Merckx at 34 Tour de France stage wins total. So far, Cavendish has 24.
Unfortunately, a classic sprint wasn’t to be had. A crash at the end of the stage, with the finish line in sight, caused by Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) bumping into Cavendish and crashing to the ground, derailed the leader and Matty Goss (Orica-Greenedge), leaving the sprint between survivors Greipel and Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). It was Kittel, the novice rider, who earned the stage win. Doubly impressive because he survived the sudden crash and out-sprinted one of the Tour's best!
Finally, halfway through the 2013 Tour, we got our first Individual Time Trial! Individual Time Trials are the strength of veteran rider Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard), who usually takes yellow in the first stage of the Tour, one that’s traditionally opened with a Time Trial.
This year, however, it would be left up to Tony Martin to take up the reigns, and he delivered. No rider could beat any of Tony Martin’s checkpoint times, except for Chris Froome (Sky), who rode faster than Martin at the beginning of the stage, but clearly wore himself out, and ended up finishing eleventh. Not a bad attempt for Froome, though, whose specialty remains in the mountains.
Stage 12 offered another shot at a classic sprint finish with a flattering flat stage, but we were denied once more due to a crash within the final meters of the finish line. This time a Lotto-Belisol rider hit a curb taking out both Richie Porte (Sky) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), both of whom may have sprinted for the stage had they been able to turn their pedals.
Cavendish and Greipel were still able to sprint, thankfully, though Greipel’s lead out train had all but evaporated, leaving him to fend for himself. Cavendish, on the other hand, had his lead out train in tact and was led towards the finish line unharmed – for once.
His attempts proved futile compared to the will of Kittel, who sped from behind Cavendish to win the stage again! Beating out Greipel in Stage 10 was impressive, but out-sprinting the fastest man in the world; that should set off alarms in the minds of the Tour's top sprinters that this year’s race will end up unlike any other.