Stage 14: St-Pourcain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, 191km
Predictions thus far in this Tour de France have more often than not turned out to be wrong, wrong, wrong. It was believed that today a breakaway would be allowed to go away and stay away. Today, friends, the stage went according to plan.
An 18-strong breakaway formed with about 100km to go, representing all the teams except Sky, Cannondale, Saxo-Tinkoff, Belkin, Astana (all protecting their key riders), and Euskaltel-Euskadi, Lampre-Merida and Vacansoleil-DCM (who missed the break and got severe ear-bashings). After a half-hearted attempt by Lampre and Euskaltel to bring the break back, the peloton sat up and let Sky take the front, a position they never relinquished.
Things began to liven up around the 70km to go mark, when Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Damiano Cunego (Lampre) struck out on their own to bridge the gap. They got about halfway across and stuck there for about 50km until they gave up the ghost and went back to the peloton. The escapees started to attack one another with 25km to go, with the first attack coming from David Millar (Garmin-Sharp). Tejay van Garderen (BMC) took up the chase, which caused both Millar and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard) to be shelled out the back from the quickened pace.
On the descent of the penultimate climb, Julien Simon (Sojasun) went off the front, encouraged by an ecstatic French crowd, and gained a gap quickly – a gap sustained due to the chasing group yo-yoing between chasing hard and looking at each other, with Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r La Mondiale) being the most active out front. Simon almost got away with it but was caught at the flamme rouge by Matthew Burghardt (BMC) and Albasini, quickly joined by about eight of the break. With a bit of cat-and-mouse and a brilliantly timed sprint, Matteo Trentin (OPQS) took the win – his first as a professional – giving the Pharmers their second consecutive stage win.
VeloVoices rider of the day
While Matteo Trentin is an excellent candidate for rider of the day, I have to go with Julien Simon. He picked the right moment to go off the front of the break to give himself a chance to win the stage, the roar of the crowd made the end of the stage just that much more exciting and he rode with heart and panache. While he didn’t win the stage, he did win Most Combative Rider of the day, so you’ll be able to pick him out tomorrow on Ventoux with the red number on his back.
The final two kilometres were really too long – the length of the straights limited my chances. This is especially a shame as I had to defend myself on these long straight roads: with more turns, it could have happened.
Opinion & analysis
After the unpredictable stages that have preceded it, today’s stage went according to plan. While many fans were hoping that it would kick off like it did yesterday, the breakaway was allowed to go and Sky lined up in formation at the front of the peloton and rode tempo for the rest of the stage. No doubt Saxo-Tinkoff and Belkin were more than happy to follow, saving their energy and their legs for tomorrow’s Ventoux stage.
Chris Froome and company looked comfortable on the front – a position they will almost certainly try to keep tomorrow, however, there will almost certainly be attacks on the yellow jersey as we go into both a rest day and the final week of this extraordinary Tour de France. Challengers like Bauke Mollema and Alberto Contador can leave everything out on the mountain, knowing that the strength of Froome makes it imperative to grab every chance they get (and make some of their own chances) in order to close the time gap between them and the top step of the podium.
Stage 14 result
1. Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 4:15:11
2. Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) same time
3. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) s/t
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) s/t
5. Egoitz Garcia (Cofidis) s/t
1. Chris Froome (Sky) 55:22:28
2. Bauke Molema (Belkin) +2:28
3. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) +2:45
4. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +2:48
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) +3:01
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +4:39
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) +4:44
8. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +5:18
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) +5:39
10. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) +5:48
Green jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Polka dot jersey: Pierre Rolland (Europcar).
White jersey: Michal Kwaitkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Team classification: Saxo-Tinkoff.
Link: Official website