Tour de France Stage 13: Van Avermaet romps to victory

Would today’s scorching hot stage be a case of (un)lucky for some after the three stages in the Pyrenees seemingly cemented the GC top step? Unlucky for the surviving trio from the day’s break, whose hopes were cruelly dashed in the dying kilometre of the race. But lucky for Greg van Avermaet, who struck out from the unexpectedly large pack of potential stage winners, going long on the final ramp to the finish and just managing to hold off a clearly disappointed Peter Sagan to take his maiden individual Tour de France victory.

2015 Tour de France profile stage 12

2015 Tour de France profile stage 13

Rider of the day

Predictable, I know, but I’m going to pick the stage winner Greg van Avermaet, who has ridden an aggressive race thus far but didn’t appear to figure in anyone’s reckoning for today’s stage, even though he’s recorded five top ten finishes in this Tour. Greg remained wisely hidden in the peloton all day, only showing his face as the leading pack took back the break and hit the final ramp with 600 metres to go. It was a risky move going from so far out but he must have wanted to avoid a bunch sprint finish.

Only Peter Sagan was able to stay on his wheel and as the road dipped down towards the finish line I’m sure there were many who anticipated Peter would come around Greg. He tried, he really did, but he unexpectedly sat back down -maybe he’d already burned some of his energy stores in the intermediate sprint? Greg obviously hadn’t.

Greg, who comes from a Belgian cycling dynasty, was named after Greg Lemond and he’ll be leaving the Tour on Tuesday’s rest day to head back to Belgium to await the birth of his first child. I wonder who he’s going to name his first-born after?

Thumbs up from today's stage winner (image: ITV Cycling Twitter)

Thumbs up from today’s stage winner (image: ITV Cycling Twitter)

Meanwhile, let’s spare a thought for runner-up Sagan, his fourth second place of this year’s Tour – he’s racked up 15 second placings in his Tour career. Now, however, with teammate Alberto Contador‘s hopes of yellow having taken a four-minute dent, the team are committing more resources to his fourth consecutive green jersey win. After this stage, he holds the jersey with 285 points to Andre Greipel‘s (Lotto-Soudal) 261. I did say it would be #4Peter.

Three things we noticed

1. Animals on Tour. Trek’s new mascot, Herman the sheep, is proving a big hit with the fans. Interviewing Herman at the pre-race press conference, he told me that his goal was to reach Paris in one piece before heading to the Basque country for La Clasica, where I’m hoping to catch up with him again and hear his thoughts on his maiden Tour.

The local kindergarten in Pamier had heard about Herman on French TV and came to say hi! #HermanSheep

Herman

— Trek Factory Racing (@TrekFactory) 17 Juillet2015

2. The fans. From the fans who camp for days to ensure a prime spot on the major climbs to the locals who just pop out of their front doors to watch the peloton pass by, the Tour wouldn’t be the Tour without the atmosphere generated by the 12 million fans who line the route every year. Today Eurosport’s spotlight shone on one exceptional fan: 90-year-old Lucien, who has followed 41 Tours de France and hands out cold drinks to riders as they pass. One grateful Tour de France winner even gave him one of his World Championship jerseys! It was a popular and moving segment with Eurosport viewers. More stories like this, please! If you haven’t seen it yet, it is here.

3. A former stage winner. On a personal note, I’d like to remember former stage winner, the late Pierre-Henri Mentheour who won here in 1984 while he was a teammate of the eventual Tour winner Laurent Fignon. Pierre-Henri kept me entertained with many wonderful Tour tales in 2012 while he was working as a cameraman for Eurosport. He passed away last year and he is missed.

Stage 13 result

1. Greg van Avermaet (BMC) 4:43:42

2. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) same time

3. Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) +0:03

4. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) +0:07

5. Paul Martens (LottoNL-Jumbo) s/t

General classification

1. Chris Froome (Sky) 51:34:21

2. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +2:52

3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +3:09

4. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +3:58

5. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +4:03

6. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) +4:04

7. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) +5:32

8. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) +7:32

9. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +7:47

10. Bauke Mollema (Trek) +8:02

Points leader: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).

King of the Mountains leader: Chris Froome (Sky).

Best young rider: Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Team classification: Movistar.

Link: Official race website

Featured Image: Greg Van Avermaet crossing the finish line (Image: BMC/Tim De Waele)

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