The Tour Take | Tour de France Stage 13
1st – Peter Sagan (Bora - hansgrohe)
2nd – Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)
3rd – Arnaud Demare (Groupama - FDJ)
Stage 13 was 170km long, setting off from Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of the Alpe d’Huez, to Valence. Descending down from the foot of the Alps, the first hour primarily downhill, before a flattish remainder of the day. There were two classified climbs; the Category 3 Cote de Brie, and the Category 4 Cote de Sainte-Eulalie en-Royans.
A slight downhill run in the final 20km made for a fast run-in to the finish, made harder by technical roads. There were several roundabouts in the final 8km, and a double right-hander with 2.5km to go. An uphill kick came with a kilometre and a half to go, rising at 3% until the 800m to go marker. It then flattened out to the finish.
Yellow – Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
Green – Peter Sagan (Bora – hansgrohe)
Polka Dot – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
White – Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale)
A four man breakway established itself quickly after kilometre zero. Initially Thomas De Gendt and Tom Scully went away, and while Sylvain Chavanel tried to join them, he was soon brought back. Dimitri Claeys and Michael Schar jumped across, and that group soon built a maximum lead of 3:00.
Groupama FDJ we very active at the front of the peloton, marking moves at the start of the stage and riding tempo on the front of the bunch as soon as the break was established so that the gap didn’t blow out too far. They were working for Arnaud Demare, who had been handed a golden opportunity with the withdrawals of several major sprinters in the Alpine stages. UAE Team Emirates and Bora – Hansgrohe were the other teams active in the pacemaking, and for the majority of the day, the gap to the breakaway was kept below 2:00.
That short leash eventually broke the spirit previously unbreakable spirit of Thomas De Gendt, who sat up with 25km remaining as the break held a 40 second lead. The July 20, 2018 must be remembered as a black day in cycling, for it was the day that Thomas De Gendt gave up on a breakaway.
Michael Schar prolonged his pain by attacking alone just after De Gendt sat up, but the peloton let him out to cook, before reeling him in with 5km to go.
With 5km to go, Trek–Segafredo and Groupama – FDJ took over the pacemaking, while Sky maintained good position to protect their GC leaders. IT wasn’t the most organized front fo the peloton, with several sprint trains decimated by the past few days.
Through the technical corners, Trek-Segafredo strung out the peloton, and had four men on the front of the peloton with 2km to go, while Kristoff was surfing Degenkolb’s wheel.
On the uphill section under the flame rouge, Gilbert attacked, gapping the field by 30m. He looked to have a good gap, but Groupama FDJ were strong and eventually pegged back the Belgian for Arnaud Demare.
As Gilbert was caught with 200m to go, Demare opened up the sprint. He got a good jump initially, while Alexander Kristoff tried to come around him. Demare moved across, slightly impeding the European Champ Kristoff. All that did though was slow the two of them, allowing Peter Sagan and his Green Jersey to nudge past them both on the line, and win by half a wheel.
The Next Stage
After one relaxed day, we’re back into the mountains with a tricky finish in Mende. The first half of the 188km stage will be relatively calm, but after going up the Category 4 Cote de Grand Chatagnier, the peloton will then head upwards. They’ll ascend the Category 2 Cote de la Croix de Berthel, and the Category 3 Col du Pont sans Eau, before the finishing climb to Mende.
The Cote de la Croix Neuve is 3km at 10%, including ramps at 18%, and will surely produce time gaps as the favourites try to hit out. That climb tops out with 1.5km remaining in the stage, it’s then a slight downhill run to the airport runway at Mende.
This finishing climb should be selective, despite its short length. But at first sight it doesn’t seem to suit any of the big 4 (Thomas, Froome, Dumoulin, Bardet) perfectly – they’re all suited to longer climbs. Hence I think we’ll see one of the tier 2 favourites snag a win. I’ll back Mikel Landa; the ever-aggressive Spaniard needs to show something this tour to make his move to Movistar worthwhile, and he won’t need much of a reason to attack.
See you back at the social club,