7.22.2015

TdF 17: Beard Power (and wet fireworks)

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There we go. No more time, no more room so total need to ATTACK! as a consequence... no break manages to stay a way. Today it's for the overall, or die. Totally.
Nairo Quintana attacks. Team Sky reacts and the 36 riders up the road get immediately caught. Some many riders instead get dropped, Tejay van Garderen included. 
Embedded image permalinkThe peloton split because of continous attacking and chasing. In front a group of thirty with Contador, Froome, Nibali and Quintana. 3' behind sadly van Garderen, who even asked for medical assistence.
Embedded image permalinkIt takes more than 50 km to settle a break-away and it's a very large one, with 28 riders up the road . They are: Kangert, Bakelants, Cherel, Pinot, Vaugrenard, Porte, Roche, Majka, Sagan, Castroviejo, Herrada, Izagirre, Degenkolb, Geschke, Losada, A.Yates, Uran, Quéméneur, Kruijswijk, Durasek, Valls, Talansky, Hesjedal, Edet, Frank, Kudus, Pauwels en Teklehaimanot.

Embedded image permalinkFirst climb is Col des Lèques (3rd cat, 6km, avg 5.3%) and Majka wins the KOM. Second climb is Col des Toutes Aures (3rd cat, 6.1km, 3.1%) and Pauwels wins the KOM. Behind Tejay van Garderen keeps losing time: 5' already. Rowe and Stannard  steadly escort Chris Froome.
Embedded image permalinkThe peloton slows down and  van Garderen comes back. I'm quite surprised.
Embedded image permalinkFirst slopes of Col de la Colle-St-Michel (1431m, 2nd cat, 11km, avg 5.2%), Tinkoff attaks, Movistar responds, Chris Froome is with Geraint Thomas and Wout Poels, Rogers goes, Contador on his wheel. Big selection in the front group while the move get neutralised. Van Garderen is dropped again, he stops, he cries. DS Max Sciandri hugs him, he hides his face. He quits.
Embedded image permalinkEmbedded image permalinkIn front, Rogers attacks again and again. Many try to follow, Malori, Barta, Feillu and Sicard join. The break-away still have 3' but the gap is dropping under the many attacks and three riders decide to speed up, they are Pauwels, Herrada and Durasek. Team Sky unconcerned keeps pacing the peloton. Way behind Tony Gallopin sinks.
Pauwels wins also the 3rd KOM. Sprinters sprint at the intermediate sprint - 1st Vaugrenard,  2nd Sagan, 3rd Degenkolb - then Geschke goes solo and behind him the break explodes.
Embedded image permalinkIt started raining, an horrible descent waits in the finale. We wait with worries. Meanwhile, Col d’Allos (2250m, 1st cat, 14km, 5.5%). Gap is more than 9'.
Behind Michal Kwiatkowski quits
In front Richie Porte slows down while Nicolas Roche speeds up. In the peloton Frank attacks and Talansky follows. Pinot joins. 
Embedded image permalinkA five riders group forms: Kruijswijk, Talansky, Frank, A.Yates and Pinot. 
In the peloton Team Astana goes in front setting the pace, Bardet and Mollema gets dropped. Only 11 riders are left: Froome, Thomas, Gesink, Barguil, Sanchez, Nibali, Scarponi, Quintana, Valverde. Pouls lost contact and is trying to hang on.
Geschke tops the KOM. Then passes Pinot.
Descent. Fortunately dry. Pinot falls, no consequence and back on bike.
Embedded image permalinkBehind Nibali attacks and only follow Froome, Quintana, Valverde and Contador. Then Quintana attacks. Caught. And the group meets Porte who goes immediately working for Froome. Descent for them too.
In front Talansky joined Pinot.
Behind also Sagan is caught and he goes working for Contador.
Embedded image permalinkIn front  Talansky and Uran dropped Pinot, obviously scared.
Crash for Contador! Sagan and Rogers stopped. Quintana is also slightly dropped. 
Embedded image permalinkIn front everybody is passing poor Pinot whose brake looks broken. But Geschke is on the climb toward Pra Loup (1620m, 2nd cat, 6.2km, 6.5%). The first chaser, Talansky, is at 1'15". At 1'25'' Uran.
Where the HELL is Alberto Contador?
Froome, Nibali, Valverde and Quintana are also on the last climb and meet the rest of the break. Scarponi is back with Nibali.
Embedded image permalinkThe sky is black but the road is dry. Simon Geschke in on the finish line. A huge victory for the bearded German.
Quintana attacks again but Froome easily closes. Moreover! he lets Nibali lead.
Embedded image permalinkLast km: Quintana attacks again. Froome responds. They drops everybody. Quintana tries to sprint but there is no gap.
Alberto Contador finishes at 2'15''.
We had fireworks. But they were wet.

Simon Geschke:
Embedded image permalink“I didn’t feel great. I joined the breakaway group together with John [Degenkolb], which was a strong group. After the sprint I attacked and started the final climb with an advantage. I had 1’30” for a long time, and I thought I’d just see what would happen. I knew it was a difficult descent and I went pretty fast. On the last climb I gave it my all and was able to hold on to my advantage. I suffered incredibly but I cannot put this feeling into words. This was a dream for me since I was 15 years old. After so many attempts it finally happened. I cannot believe it. Only if I win the Tour de France my beard will go off so it will not happen today.”
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Alberto Contador:
"Bad crash today,very touched on legs and arm.From thinking to take time to lost almost 3' and giving thanks.Thanks for your messages."

Steven Kruijswijk:
“When you go gambling or waiting for the perfect moment, it doesn’t turn out the way you want to all the time. That’s why I went all in from the beginning. It was quite a war for an hour, but I kept feeling good and in the end, I was in the breakaway. I was able to take it easy afterwards. It was important to save some energy, because I knew that it was going to explode on the Col d’Allos. When Geschke attacked, I thought that it was too early. I tried to catch him afterwards, several times, but I didn’t have the legs to win today. That’s a pity, but I can go on with this performance.”

Robert Gesink:
Embedded image permalink“That means something. I heard that van Garderen was just at a total loss. That’s why I moved up to the sixth place and I’m satisfied with that. I was hoping that Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) would have been a little less strong, but maybe I can challenge him in the upcoming days. The front man of Team LottoNL-Jumbo must keep on climbing at a high level to reach that goal. “That went quite well today. I was the sixth man of the peloton to reach the top of the Col d’Allos. That’s moderate. I did the descent afterwards with Wout Poels (Team Sky) and Thomas. On that last climb, they went all the way and I had to leave a small gap, unfortunately.”

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Alexis Vuillermoz:
"Première étape de montagne Alpestre. Un début de course compliqué avec une roue cassée dans une petite chute. Mais la fin de course a été meilleure pour moi où j'ai pu aider Romain Bardet dans le col d'Allos." [First mountains stage in the Alps. A complicated start of race with a broken wheel in a small crash. But the end of the race has been better for me because I could help Romain Bardet on the col d'Allos]

Thibaut Pinot:
"When it won't work, it won't work. I fell in the descent. I was blocked, I don't know why I crashed. It's a pity because I had done the worst. I will try again tomorrow and everyday. Until Saturday, I will try. I have good legs. There are years like this. Last year, everything went right, this year it's not the case. It's the beauty of sport. There are three opportunities left. I'm going to attack again, it's frustrating but I don't want to have regrets in Paris. I'm sure it's going to work in the days ahead. I want to go all the way, I want to try."
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Andre Greipel:
"@simongeschke Congrats and chapeau but now I think you have to cut your beard!!! Enjoy the moment and tomorrow we finally can see your face."

Chris Froome:
“There was a lot going on today with Tejay pulling out, Alberto crashing on the final descent, and all the tactics during the early part of the stage. The GC contenders were moving around right from the first 50-60km, which made for a full-on day. Nairo was definitely pushing me, testing me, and I especially felt that in that last kilometre. He was pushing on to see if I could respond, but I’m feeling good at this stage so I was able to do that. I just hope I can stay on my bike over these next three days and get through as best I can. Everyone gave everything and I want to thank my team-mates – they did a fantastic job and we had a great day. Richie sacrificed his own chances of a stage win by dropping back from that breakaway to make sure I stayed safe, and I’m delighted with all of them. I’m expecting my rivals to keep trying to attack me. There’s still three really hard stages before we get to Paris, and Movistar will definitely keep trying to do that.”

Embedded image permalinkGeraint Thomas:
“I didn’t feel super strong but I managed to hang in there. I really grovelled up that last climb and finished with a decent result. For Froomey, it was even better. Getting Riche and Nico in the break just happened and we told them to stay in there. They’re both feeling good so we were going to let them try and go for the stage win, but then we thought ‘hang on, let’s not get carried away, we’re here to win this yellow jersey’ so Richie sat up. Unfortunately he got held up behind the Contador crash, so it was for no reason in the end, but our team was strong and we communicated really well. Ian [Stannard] and Luke [Rowe] are riding really well as well, so we had strength in numbers, which was really good.”

Embedded image permalinkBauke Mollema:
“In the beginning I was feeling really good, actually. But when [Alberto] Contador attacked on the category two climb, I had to close a gap and since then I never was feeling good again. I had to go really deep there and never recovered.  I saw my heart rate was really high – much higher than the last days – and I just couldn’t get the power on the pedals to push.All the time the break had just 3, 4, 5 minutes. Suddenly the peloton slowed down and within 10kms they had 4-5 minutes more so I don’t know what happened in the front. Then at the bottom of the Col d’Allos we pulled a little bit so not to lose more time and I think that was a good job from the boys. I knew Frank would pass me, but thanks to the great effort of the team today I didn’t drop in GC.  On the second to last climb I was not feeling good and I had to drop off the pace.  From then on it was really hard to the finish. I really have to thank Bob, he stayed with me in the climb and descent and in the last climb especially, so to not lose too much time. He did a really amazing job! It was not a good day for me today. It’s too bad because I lost time on most of the favorites and Frank passed me too. Even though I stayed the same in GC I am not happy about today - tomorrow better!"

Rigoberto Uran:
"The truth is that it took a while today to get into the breakaway. I lost a lot of energy to be in the front at the beginning. It wasn't easy. I probably paid for the effort in the climb of first category, which is when Geschke went. I was also waiting to see what guys as Majka and Pinot were doing. Then in the downhill I tried to close the gap, but it was already too late. Congrats to Geschke. Concerning me, I'm happy with my third place even if we are always out there to try and win a stage. This stage was really hard, and in the next days it will be just as tough, if not more tough. But I will try again in the next days. It won't be easy, but we have to take the risk to get into the breakaway and see what we can do in the final days." 

Michal Kwiatkowski:
"It's sad for me to leave a special race like Le Tour de France. Everyone knows how much I like this grand tour. Today I wanted to enter in a breakaway. I jumped a few times at the beginning together with Rigoberto Uran, but then suddenly I felt empty. I lost contact from the group on the first climb. I fought, hoping to recover, and maybe I could feel better along the parcours, but the situation didn't change. I hung on until the intermediate sprint, but then I decided to stop. There wasn't anything left in the tank. It's a difficult moment for me. You never want to stop in a race like this, especially when you have this rainbow jersey on your shoulders. My teammates were great these last couple of weeks in how they supported me. I want to thank them. We had great time together and we achieved great results together. Now I have to recover, and then start thinking about the next race on my calendar. I want to thank all the people on the roads that cheered for me. I wish all the best to my teammates, hoping they can get another victory before the end of Le Tour."

Nairo Quintana:
“I felt really well today. I recovered fine and did not struggle after the rest day. We fared pretty well, as well myself as my team-mates - with the pace we rode through the Allos climb, I didn't realized until the end of the climb that we were only four of five at the front. That's where I tried to attack, just like I did in the finale, though I didn't get a gap. We didn't have an intention of trying to turn things around today as there are days where the mountains are more demanding, and we think we'll be able to try harder later on. Tomorrow's stage will be complicated; the one on Friday, finishing at La Toussuire, is a route that suits me well -full of ups and downs, with serious climbs, a hard route with long ascents-; and Alpe d'Huez is a long climb whose slopes are really good for me. There's still room for battle. We also entered the podium with Alejandro Valverde, who has a nice chance to snatch a place into the top-3, and kept the lead in the teams' classification, so today's overview must be pretty good for us."

Alejandro Valverde:
"Safe on the GC podium? I don't really know if it's granted yet. It's true that there are only three days left in this Tour before Paris, but there's still much left to cover. It's also true that I'm feeling really well, working hard for my team-mate Nairo and trying everything to create some gaps, but Froome is really strong and it's hard to beat him. When Contador crashes I was ahead of him and couldn't see the incident, but I was told afterwards. Alberto is a really fighting and dangerous rider -what can you say from him-, someone you can never leave a gap to and he was really close to me on the GC. It was awful to see Van Garderen leaving the race, too - I want to send him all my support, I know how it feels - the Tour and cycling are as hard as this. I was left out of the podium last year, fourth after the final TT following a tough final week, and know the bad side of this race. All in all, we're still there and, as many have seen, we keep trying to take the yellow jersey."

Michael Rogers:
"It was a really bumpy corner and we were going so fast that you just, that I suppose, he hit one of those bumps and his front wheel slipped I believe. I don’t know [how Contador is doing]. I haven’t seen him. I think he was alright. We got his chain back on quite quickly and got him going again. It’s a bit unfortunate, but it was a very technical, very bumpy descent. Unfortunately that’s the way it is."
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Sam Bennett:
"It was never going to be an easy task, even if I was at full health. I think the lack of preparation really showed, it made the race even more difficult and it is such a hard race. The biggest race of the year in which you can’t hide anywhere but I am really happy that I did it and that I got so far. I pushed my body and raced more and more to see what I can get out of myself. I learned from the race and to see the standard that I need to get is very important. I also think that if I was at 100% that I would have raced a lot better. I felt like I didn’t get to show what I am about in this race which is disappointing and then being last in GC wasn’t good for the ego either. But I went on until I was completely empty until I literally had nothing left. It’s been all I could give.“

Jacques van Rensburg:
"Man of the match goes out to @LouisMeintjes for finishing solo today with really bad illness. #fighter"

Serge Pauwels:

"I wasn't really planning to go in the breakaway today because I thought it might be a stage for the GC riders. When I saw there were a lot of riders attacking and going up the road early on I thought I better get involved. We also had Daniel and Merhawi up there so it was a good breakaway for us. I was also able to make up some time for the GC so it was another good day out for us."

RESULTS
STAGE

1 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 4:12:17
2 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:32
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:01:01
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:01:36
5 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:01:40
6 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:02:27
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky 0:03:02
8 Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:04
9 Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka 0:03:05
10 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:03:21ijk

GC
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 69:06:49
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:10
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:09
4 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:06:34
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:06:40
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:07:39
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:08:04
8 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:08:47
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:11:47
10 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:13:08

Jerseys
Yellow: Froome
Green: Sagan
Polka dot: Froome
White: Quintana

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