7.16.2015

TdF 12: Kill Me Softly

Embedded image permalinkLook on riders' tubes, a small paper reminds :
"57.5km Cat 2 climb Col de Portet d’Aspet  
93km Cat 1 climb Col de la Core 
144km Cat 1 climb Port de Lers 
Embedded image permalink195km HC climb Plateau de Beille "
Each one knows his duty and each mark means attack! speed up! ouch, resist!
But first of all there is the intermediate sprint, Lotto-Saudal launches the train but a volitive André Greipel won the sprint on his own. Sagan just 3rd but keeps the Green.
Embedded image permalinkThree riders on the attack: Westra, Coquard and Meintjes. On conter Fuglsang, Sicard and Bardet. Fluid situation, riders bridging, Team Garmin chase while Team Sky stops. They talk and a large break goes. 
Embedded image permalinkIt includes: Lieuwe Westra, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Matthieu Ladagnous, Jérémy Roy (FDJ), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx), Romain Bardet, Mickaël Chérel, Christophe Riblon (AG2R), Jan Barta (Bora), Bryan Coquard, Romain Sicard (Europcar), Kristjian Durasek (Lampre), Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Sylvain Chavanel, Jérôme Coppel (IAM), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Frédéric Brun, Anthony Delaplace (Bretagne-Séché), Louis Meintjes (MTN), Georg Preidler (Giant), Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo). Their gap grows quickly to 6'.
Embedded image permalinkPortet-d'Aspet: 1069m, 2nd cat, 4.3km, avg 9.7%.  35 degrees. Preidler wins the first KOM. Descent. Casartelli's death memorial. Yesterday riders were 100 km/h down the Tourmalet: scary. 
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Soudal) and Angelo Tulik (Europcar) are chasing 1' behind the break. 
Col de la Core: 1389m, 1st cat, 14.1 km, avg 5.7%. The front group splits on Westra's forcing, all back and gap is up to 9'. Tulik and Sieberg gave up. Team Sky keeps graciously leading, in this wild mountains, green and blue. Durasek wins the second KOM of the day. 
Embedded image permalinkTechnical descent, and it starts raining. Cherel and Vanmarcke fly down. Kwiatkowski, and Preidler join. Cherel is back in the group.
Port de Lers:  1th cat climb, 12,9 km 6% average. Meanwhile rai show an interview with Jakob Fuglsang after yesterda's finish: "I've been told I'm the leader. We slept on it and it was confirmed at the start. In the race Nibali dropped me. I'm surprised. I wonder who's the leader then."
Embedded image permalinkThe peloton takes it easy, pulled by Ian Stannard. Gap is 13'. Also today Rigoberto Uran gets dropped. Konig goes in front and the pace increases. Selection in the break, and first attacks: Fuglsang, Bardet and Meintjes drop the compant and try to  join the lead. Others follow. Vanmarcke and Kwiatkowski are the head of the race. Fuglsang, Bardet, Meintjes, Rodriguez, Sicard, Izaguirre and Cherel are chasing. 
Embedded image permalinkBehind all is calm still riders are losing contact.
Almost at the KOM, Vanmarcke remains on Kwiatkowski's wheel in spite he openly asks collaboration. No sprint, at least. But Vanmarcke fails to get his bottle at the feed zone.
Embedded image permalinkBehind the pace is finally high and the peloton is in a long line. Race is dry but on the finish after the rain now it's big hail. A real storm. The break in already on wet road and Meintjes falls but he's back on bike. 
Pourring rain.  Peter Kennaugh safely leads Chris Froome on the descent. The two in front are in the last flat before the last climb, now Sep Vanmarcke is collaborating and their gap keeps growing.
Embedded image permalinkLast climb. Plateau de Beille. The World Champion is pulling again and Vanmarcke says no with his head: "I can't". The rain streams on their faces. GC riders put the teams in front, no sign of  Astana though.
13 km to go Kwiatkowski goes solo. Cherel and Bardet are leading the chase. 
Embedded image permalinkThe group is also starting the climb and Lotto-Jumbo goes in front for Robert Gesink. No way: Kennaugh sprints and put Froome again on the top of the game. Already a big selection.
10 km to go Fuglsang attacks, Bardet, Rodriguez and Meintjes respond. They join Vanmarcke. Purito attacks, Bardet and Fuglsang follow.
Embedded image permalinkBehind, Contador's mates dare to pull
In front Purito attacks again. Fuglsang and Bardet are slow to respond but don't let him go. Fuglsang attacks, the others respond.  Now Purito asks collaboration to chase down the solo leader. Then he attacks again and this time he drops everybody. No mercy for Kwiatkowski, joined and dropped also by Fuglsang. 
Behind in a decimated peloton a handful of riders, including Mollema but not Gesink. 8 km to go Contador attacks. He's got a gap. Porte Thomas and Froome don't respond, just go on a regular pace and he's caught. Now Nibali attacks. In the heavy rain, the Shark goes solo. Nobody respond. He doesn't look back.
5 km to go Valverde attacks too. He's quickly caught and Nibali has got just a slight gap. Valverde attacks again but Porte controls. All together again. Mollema is still there, and Pinot too.
3 km to go Quintana attacks. Thomas closes the gap.
In front Purito goes and Fuglsang chases. The Dane doesn't give up: outstanding. Then comes Bardet.
Embedded image permalinkLast km: Froome attacks, Quintana on his wheel. Contador and van Garderen respond. Valverde starts on conter and Froome must chase. Caught, Quintana attacks. All together again. They slow down. Now Mollema is dropped.
Quintana attacks again. He goes nowhere.
Rodriguez sends kisses on the line. WINNER! 2nd Fuglsang, 3rd Bardet. Then the rest of the break. And now... the GC: tamed. In a line, behind Thomas and Froome. Valverde wins the group sprint... and gains 1''.
Team Sky don't need that big effort and softly kills the Tour.

Purito Rodriguez:
"I tried to save energy to attack at the right moment." 
"Sin palabras!!! Ver tanta gente hoy chillando PURITO!! Espero que hayáis gozado como yo!! Sois la ... La leche!! ✌🏼️ "
"To win a stage of the Tour is so important. It’s a long time since my first stage win in 2010. I’m like Atlético Madrid – you never really know what to expect from me. I said this morning, I didn’t think there was chance. With the climbs today, we [the breakaway] did quite an impressive job. The Platueau de Beille is a really important race finish. I was definitely feeling that I was in better condition than them [Fuglsang and Bardet] and I know this climb well so I attacked.”

Sep Vanmarcke:
"Surprised myself today! It was a hard time but I enjoyed it! Not very often I'm in the lead in the final of the queenstage @letour 
Had a good time with @michalkwiatek 😉. But that Plateau de Beille.... What a hard climb!"

Embedded image permalinkJakob Fuglsang:

"Another 2nd place for my collection 🙈 will keep fighting to change that! Though happy that the legs where there again!"

Stef Clement:

"One of those days @letour where one can turn from 32 years old to 82 in a little over 6h. Not fresh enough today."



Alexis Vuillermoz
"Après avoir bataillé hier pendant 80km pour essayer de prendre l'échappé en vain. Aujourd'hui l'équipe a placé 3 coureurs devant avec Romain, Mika et Christophe. Romain termine 3ème et pour ma part je retrouve de meilleurs sensations en montagne en suivant durant une bonne partie de la monté du plateau de Beille le groupe de leaders du peloton." / "Yesterday we fought in vain for 80 km tring to get in the break. Today the team managed to put 3 riders in front with Romain, Mika and Christophe. Romain finished 3rd and as far as me I found back my best feelings in the mountain, following the best leaders' group on the most of plateau de Beille."

Warren Barguil:
“I was hoping to get some time back on my competitors for the GC, but I had a bad day and was on the limit. For some time I was afraid of an off-day, but that didn’t happen fortunately. I did my best to limit my losses. The injuries from my crash took energy out of me, and I don’t have the legs of last year’s Vuelta yet. For now I hope to recover and to have good legs again in the Alps."


Georg Preidler:
“It was a hard day and I feel quite tired at the moment. On the penultimate climb I bridged the gap to the two leaders, but suddenly the man with the hammer came by. I was completely out of energy and suffered from what felt like a hunger knock. After some gels and energy drink I felt OK again, and the bunch caught me just before the final climb, where I supplied Warren [Barguil] and Simon [Geschke] with bottles.  During the stage I realized that we would be able to survive until the finish. There were some good riders out there, but on the climbs I felt strong and you never know what may happen. Tomorrow is a new day and I hope for an easy one, as it was a huge effort for me today and I’ll need to recover first.”

Embedded image permalinkLouis Meintjes:
"I really wanted to get into the breakaway today, it was the plan for the team. Edvald really helped me to get into the breakaway. We were pushing it all race and the pressure was on, on the descents and unfortunately I took a bit too much of a risk and came down but got back to the group pretty quickly. On the final climb I just didn't have the legs to go with the front guys."

Tejay van Garderen:
"I knew Sky had a really strong team and they were going to try to neutralize any of the attacks of all the dangerous guys. So when they were jumping, I just sat behind Sky to make sure they pulled them back. Hopefully, those guys will keep doing that so they waste a few of their bullets. Then, in the third week they might pay the price. There were two guys who I needed to mark, guys who I was close to on time. I feel like I did a good job of staying close to them and staying within my limits. It is all going according to plan." 

Geraint Thomas:
“When Quintana attacked I thought ‘Oh no!’, because Richie [Porte] had just dropped back, but fortunately I had the legs to respond and slowly ride back up to him. I was buzzing after I’d chased him down and that was really good for my confidence. I rode better after that and was able to stick to consistent pace. I’m happy to still be up there on GC but I wasn’t even thinking about that today, it’s all about riding for Froomey, and we’ve both had a good day.”

Chris Froome:
"I was lucky to have Richie and Geraint with me when the attacks started and it made it a lot easier to control things with my team-mates in that position. I owe them both a beer tonight. 
Geraint’s been really strong. We saw how good he was during that first week, and he’s been fantastic in the Pyrenees. He could definitely still be up there at the end. He’s been doing a great job for me and could get a podium or a top five at the same time. The other contenders will definitely have to look out for him as well.
As for my attack, I made it to see who would respond, and who had the legs at that point. I was hoping one or two of the guys might drop off, but as soon as I saw the reaction from them I decided to keep it conservative and get through to the finish as best I could.
It was a really tough day out there, especially with the weather changing. It went from hot to cold and some guys fared better with that than others. I prefer the hot weather, but you have to be able to adapt in bike racing and I’m happy to have got through it.
There’s still a lot of racing to come but I’m pleased with where my legs are at the moment and I’m looking forward to a flat today tomorrow.”

Chris Froome:
"Whole team did an amazing job today, special mention to this man though!!! @geraintthomas86 👍 #TDF2015"

Michal Kwiatkowski:
“It’s a pity I couldn’t handle the power necessary to stay away on the last climb. It was really steep after a long day out front. Being caught 7.6 kilometers from the finish is too bad, but for me it was a bit unexpected to be in that breakaway in the first place. It was many guys and a lot of strong climbers. I think Sep and I did a great move to stay away from the pure climbers. I think it was smart to be aggressive on the descent before the last climb and build the gap. We worked together well and I’m thankful to him. We played the best tactic possible for our skills. It was too bad we didn’t have enough of a gap to stay away. I couldn’t have done any better than what I did. The rain was even nice to cool off from the heat we dealt with all day, especially with the high temperatures we’ve also been dealing with in the last stages. I tried to fight until the end. It wasn’t enough to win a stage, but I’m happy my performance is getting better and better each day. Congratulations to Rodriguez as he deserved the victory today. He was super strong and he is one of the best climbers in the peloton. I am happy I tried to go for the stage win. I have to be satisfied because you can’t win if you don’t try. It’s a wonderful feeling to do something like this and honor the rainbow jersey in a Tour de France stage. I’m proud to wear it and hope people can appreciate my effort today. There’s still a long way to go to Paris. I’m motivated, the team is motivated, and for sure we’ll try again when there is an opportunity for Etixx – Quick-Step.”

Robert Gesink:
“Today went quite well, although it sucked that I had a puncture at the foot of the Plateau de Beille. It was a bad moment. I took another bike, I started riding to the top as if it was a time trial. Thanks to the adrenaline, I almost made it back to the yellow jersey group. I could see them all the way up, but unfortunately I couldn’t close the gap. I was really strong, it was another good day. It was a shame that I punctured.”
Embedded image permalink
Sep Vanmarcke:
“With the team, we had agreed that I would attack so that I could help Robert in the final,” Vanmarcke said after crossing the line in 30th at 12’38. It went pretty good, it wasn’t until the final climb that I was caught. I secretly hoped for a top ten, but the climb was too steep for someone with my weight. The last ten kilometres were hard. I’m glad it’s over now, although I amused myself today. I needed this, after last week’s bad luck.”

Bauke Mollema:
“It sucks that the little gap I opened grew. I could keep the group at 50 meters, but the headwind did me in. I was so done in the last kilometer. I stay in 10th, but it looks different now in front of me; [Tony] Gallopin is in reach now, which is nice. It’s a shame I lost that minute… 
I knew the climb more or less, I did it in 2011 and we did it in training. I knew the last 3kms were less steep and then it’s always better to be in a group when it is really windy. Being alone the last 4K made it really hard. I started in a really good position, I was with the top five going into the climb after Bob did a really good job. We knew the first part was steep and we were there, and that was good. It was raining full gas, and it was a really hard, steep climb, but the legs felt quite good and I could stay with the top 10 riders until the last four kilometers.
When the attacks went the first were okay, but the last one was too much for me and I lost maybe 50 meters. For 1km, I held a gap and was trying to come back but I couldn’t. That was a pity because I could have maybe still been in the first group with the GC guys, but with the headwind I cracked. I was totally empty in the last three kilometers. The rain was not too bad when you are going uphill and it only started for the last 25kms. It was not the weather we were expecting after starting with 35 degrees (Celsius), but in the end it was chilly at the top but it was not a big problem.
It was three hard stage in the Pyrenees, and after a not so good first day I am still 10th. It will be interesting to see what happens in the Alps, and I will try to move up.  One bad day can do a lot, for me, but also for the others.”

Nairo Quintana:
"It was a good work from everyone in the team. A difficult day, with really demanding climbs and, above all, serious temperature changes and rain in the finale. It took even more energy from us, but we stood it and attacked the leader several times. Sky managed to control all of them, as well ours as the ones from Alberto, Vincenzo... they dominated the situation pretty well and have shown to be strong, as well Froome as his team-mates. We'll keep dreaming and trying; there's still a long way to go and everything won't be decided until the final mountain stage. I feel well at the moment, we're as strong as in previous days; I think my level shouldn't go down in what's left in this Tour, and should I keep it like today, I think we can try some good things until Paris. There's much to cover, we lost some ground already, but there's some good condition we'll use to keep fighting till next Sunday."

Embedded image permalinkAlberto Contador:
“The team worked well, I launched an attack, but nobody wanted to cooperate with me so I decided not to go alone. Sky was strong but still my condition today was much better. We’ll see how the race will go and if it’s possible to take a step up in the GC. It was a difficult day. The first part of the stage was very hot and then it rained. But little by little I felt better. We were all at the same level today. Everybody attacked. So did I, but it didn't work. You must try again everyday and I hope that my sensations will return in the last week”, says Contador, while teammate and yesterday’s stage winner 

Rafal Majka:
“It was a very tough day today and I also suffered a bit after yesterday with my long breakaway. I think a lot of riders suffered - also because of the conditions. I tried to do my best for Alberto, surely he was feeling much better today and attacked. The final climb was really hard and together with Michael Rogers and Roman Kreuziger we pushed hard and tried to set a hard tempo early on the climb and we definitely rode this climb really fast. It’s still a long Tour, Alberto feels better and we still try to do our maximum”

Peter Sagan:
“I had a bit of recovery on the last part of the stage and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. It could be an important stage but I’ll have to see how I feel. We are in a very hard part of the Tour with many mountain stages but it’s true that the fight for the green jersey is really close right now. I want to keep trying and fight for this jersey. Today was a very hard stage and I’m very happy to finish but I don’t know how I will feel tomorrow. The most important thing is to rest right now”


 MORE TO COME

RESULTS
STAGE
1 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 5:40:14
2 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:12
3 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:49
4 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:34
5 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka 0:04:38
6 Jan Barta (Cze) Bora-Argon 18 0:05:47
7 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar 0:06:03
8 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:28
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:06:46
10 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:06:47
11 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
12 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr
13 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
14 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
15 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar
16 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
17 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky
18 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:07:44
19 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
20 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:09:13
21 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:09:46
22 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
23 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin
24 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling
25 Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement
26 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
27 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:11:35
28 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:11:47
29 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky 0:12:38
30 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
GC
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 46:50:32
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:52
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:09
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:58
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:04:03
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:04:04
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:05:32
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 0:07:32
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:07:47
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:08:02
11 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:09:43
12 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:12:25
13 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:12:53
14 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:13:33
15 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:13:45
16 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:13:57
17 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:17:05
18 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:19:32
19 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:26:57
20 Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Bretagne-Séché Environnement 0:28:19
21 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:28:36
22 Daniel Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:33:00
23 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:33:19
24 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:34:41
25 Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:34:48
26 Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka 0:36:32
27 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) IAM Cycling 0:37:11
28 Steve Morabito (Swi) FDJ.fr 0:37:42
29 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:40:33
30 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:42:10


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