Tour de France – Second Week

A summary of the Second week of the 103rd Tour de France.

Amazingly all 198 riders completed the first 7 stages of this years Tour. Michael Morkøv and Sam Bennett suffering more than most. The first week was dominated by British and Team Dimension data. Cavendish claiming three stages, Steve Cummings claiming the first mountain stage with a trademark attack. The other two stages saw Greg Van Avermaet claim yellow from a breakaway stage victory and Marcel Kittel managed to out-sprint the field. Week two sees us enter the pyrenees, where we the drama of the GC battle unfolded.

Stage 8

Winner: Chris Froome (Team Sky)

The day Froome punched a colombian! Opinion has been divided between “Outrageous assault by Froome” and “The idiot deserved it”. Team Sky’s leader preformed a daring attack on his GC rivals in the closing stages of Stage 8 to descend to victory and into the leader’s yellow jersey – perhaps earlier than he would have liked. The days main breakaway was made up of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Thibaut Pinot (FDJr) and Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstepp). Majka and Pinot battling out for the King of the Mountains jersey, which Majka led by a solitary point at the end of stage 8. Before the top of Val Louron, Pinot,Martin and Majka one were reeled in. The main group was made up of 14 riders as it reached the summit, Chris Froome attacked to make a gap for himself in the downhill. With 5km to go, he had 25 seconds lead over the Quintana group while Alberto Contador was more than one minute down. Froome rode to victory and took the lead in the overall ranking. Meanwhile Michael Markov, who became the first man to abandon this Tour as he succumbed to the injuries he has been carrying since the opening stage, ending a brave battle against injury.

Stage 9

Winner: Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin)

For the first time at this years tour we had an incomplete rider start list, Michael Morkøv’s withdrawal on stage 8 left us with 197 riders starting stage 9, Although we were to loose more. Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data), Michael Ladagnous and Cedric Pineau (both FDJr) but the biggest news from stage 9 was the withdrawal of Alberto Contador due to Illness adding to his already apparent injury problems. Thibaut Pinot was first atop the first category 1 climb of the day at 19km, therefore takign the virtual lead in the KOM classification, which he would defend throughout the stage to claim the polka dot jersey at the presentation in Andorra. In the long downhill, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) made it across to the leading group in which Valverde was a problem as Team Sky was chasing down. The gap was 45 seconds at km 53 when Valverde gave up giving his colleagues a chance for the stage victory , leaving 20 riders at the front: Winner Anacona, Jesus Herrada (both Movistar), Diego Rosa, Luis Leon Sanchez (both Astana), Rafal Majka, Peter Sagan (both Tinkoff), Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-LaMondiale), George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo), Mathias Frank, Stef Clement, Jérôme Coppel (all IAM), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Tom Dumoulin (Giant), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Rui Costa, Tsgabu Grmay (both Lampre-Merida), Thomas De Gendt, Tony Gallopin (both Lotto-Soudal), Dani Navarro, Nicolas Edet (both Cofidis). Sagan picked up the sprint points in a unchallenged effort to bring the gap down to seven points between him and Mark Cavendish in the green jersey classification. Dumoulin rode away from the reduced break away to a solo victory with 12km to go. He made a gap of 50 seconds for himself and maintained a time-trialled away to fend off Rui Costa and Majka who were chasing him down. Froome and Quintana rolled in together 6:35 after Dumoulin, meaning Froome remained in the Maillot Jaune.

Rest day

The First rest day of the tour let us look back on the first 9 stages and digest the events of the last few days. The big news being the Contador withdrawal, Froome’s early gains over Quintana, The battle for KOM seemingly between Pinot and Majka and if Cavendish can realistically hold of Sagan for the green jersey.

Stage 10

Winner: Michael Matthews (Orica BIKEexchange)

Stage 10 of the 103rd Tour de France, tok us from Escaldes-Engordany to Revel, crossing 197km. The race started without Alberto Contador who pulled out during stage 9. At the summit of Port d’Envalira (km 24), Rui Costa took the maximum ten points. This didn’t effect Thibaut Pinot’s reign in polka dot with 80 points, ahead of Rafal Majka, 77, Tom Dumoulin, 58, and Rui Costa, 50. Soon after the summit Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale-Drapac) abandoned the race. After verious attacks and counter attacks the break was formed of Mikel Landa (Sky), Gorka Izagirre (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), Samuel Dumoulin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Damiano Caruso (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data), Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Luke Durbridge, Daryl Impey and Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange). Team Sky were unwilling to bring back the break (including thir man Landa), therefore Katusha soon took up the charge, only to give up chasing with around 90km to go. It was only when IAM and Direct Energie took to the front the time started to decrease, despite this without the aid of Katusha and/or Etixx, the break couldn’t be caught. Sagan, Dumoulin, Van Avermaet, Boasson Hagen, Matthews, Durbridge and Impey took off and soon had almost one minute lead over their former breakaway companions. That soon drew to three minutes. From the reduced bunch the Orica riders took turns to attack the break (mainly Sagan) and there tactic worked. The group of 5 (Durbridge being the only absence) reached the line together, where Bling Matthews beat the depleted Sagan in a sprint, to take his first Tour stage victory. Eddy Boassen Hagen took third in front of Greg Van Avermaet and Samuel Dumoulin. Peter Sagan had already taking the green jersey from Mark Cavendish in the days earlier intermediate sprint, and his second place finish extending his lead to nearly 40 points.

Stage 11

Winner: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff)

At 162.5km, the stage between Carcassonne and Montpellier was short, and a typical transitional stage. The early attacks where from French champion Arthur Vichot (FDJr) and Leigh Howard (IAM Cycling) who formed the days break. With 100km to go Howard and Vichot had 4’15”. The early parts of todays stage were littered with crashes with Pinot, Van den Broeck, LL Sanchez and Theuns all failing victim but being able to continue. The splits in the peloton were brought together with 35km to go, mainly down to Pinot’s lieutenants Jérémy Roy and Anthony Roux. With 12km to go, we witnessed an amazing attack from Peter Sagan, Maceij Bodnar (Tinkoff) Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome (Team Sky). They powered away from the peloton, with Etixx and Katusha trying desperately to real in the yellow and green jersey. The foursome co-operated perfectly in the wind to reach the line, where Bodnar delivered Sagan and Froome to the line, with Sagan taking his second stage victory of this year tour and Fromme sprinting to second place. Froome wrapped up a 6-second time bonus on the line with that superb display of attacking riding plus finishing six seconds ahead of the peloton in Montpellier. It was a thrilling stage no body could of predicted, in which Froome extended his lead to 28 seconds over fellow Brit Adam Yates and 35 seconds over big rival Nairo Quintana.

Stage 12

Winner: Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal)

The craziest stage so far!!! Due to the weather conditions organizers have decided to modify the finale of stage 12 in order to guarantee optimal safety conditions. Therefore, the stage finished at Chalet-Reynard, 6 kilometres before the initially planned finishing line on Mont Ventoux. Jurgen Vanderbroeck (Team Katusha) did not start todays stage. The break of the day was made up of Bertjan Lindeman and Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto-Jumbo), Stef Clement (IAM), Serge Pauwels and Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), André Greipel and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Bryan Coquard and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step), Chris Anker Sørensen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Dani Navarro and Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis). Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal won the days intermediate sprint at Mollégès-Gare (km 102). The break stayed strong with De Gendt picking up the KOM points at the stages smaller climbs. As the peloton charged on Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), in the polka dot jersey, was among those spat out the back alongside green jersey Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo).The only casualty of todays stage was Angelo Tulik (Direct Energie) who retired before Mont Ventoux. As the break reached the foot of Mount Ventoux, Navarro, Pauwels and De Gendt powered ahead as the remaining breakaway members. The trio distanced themselves and engages with one another numerous times, Navarro eventually couldn’t keep contact with the pair, and De Gendt launch n attack in the last 500 metres to distance a depleted Pauwels, with his victory De Gendt regained the polka dot jersey from Pinot.  The real action was in the GC ground behind, a elite group was formed of Froome, Henao, Poels, Quintana, Valverde, Aru, Bardet, Mollema, Porte, Van Garderen, Barguil, Rodriguez, Meintjes, Yates. Valvered was the first to attack before Sky (Poels) brought him back, Quintana then attacked only to be brought back, Quintana then tried again, only to be again thwarted by Sky. With that Froome attack closely being followed by Porte, Although Nairo Quintana could not follow. Bauke Mollema set of and caught Porte and Froome. As the trio surged up Mont Ventoux, disaster struck. As the fans surged up the narrow mountain passes, they brought the road to a standstill, where the Moto (camera motorcycle) was caught behind people leading Porte to crash into the back of the motorbike, closely followed by Froome and Mollema Watch here . Mollema was able to clime back on his bike, although race leader and Richie Porte could not, their bikes had been too badly damaged, which led to utter ridiculous scenes of Chris Froome, two time winner of the “greatest race int he world” RUNNING up Mont Ventoux Watch here. By the time the Team Sky car could get to Froome to give him a spare bike, The Brit had lost his advantage with all his rivals int he group he had done so well to distance passing him. This left fellow Brit Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) as the provisional Tour de France leader, but there was a big question for the commissaires to address. Froome dropping provisionally down to sixth overall with a deficit of 53 seconds, and 39 seconds behind Nairo Quintana. In the following minutes after the stage finishes there was confusion on what the result would be, there was a delayed presentation as the commissaires discussed what to do. On any other day, 23 year old Adam Yates taking the yellow jersey would be a celebration for British cycling, although his and Chris Froome’s stage will be forever remembered for unmanaged crowds, which are becoming a growing problem in the sport. Common sense eventually prevailed and Froome was re-awarded the Yellow jersey. The Tour gave Porte and Froome the same time as Mollema. meaning Froome extended his advantage to 47 seconds over Yates, 56 seconds over Mollema and 1″01 over Nairo.

Stage 13 (TT)

Winner: Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Alpecin)

The 37.5 km time trial came the day after the horrific attack in nice. The stage went ahead in a show of defiance, solidarity and strength.  A minutes silence was held before the first rider Sam Bennet rolled down the ramp. Before the stage started Thibaut Pinot (FDJr) and Simon Gerrans (Orica-BikeExchange) retired from the race, due to illness and crashes in stage 12. Edward Theuns (Trek) crashed on the course and was also forced to retire, being taken to hospital. Alexis Gougeard took the early lead,  before Tinkoff’s Maciej Bodnar took over the lead. He was later eplaced by Australian Rohan Dennis, before we was eventually de-throned by Movistar and former Lampré rider Nelson Oliviera. That was until Tom Dumoulin arrived in  La caverne du pont-d’arc 1:31 faster than Oliveria. The Dutchman powered through the 37.5 km with relative ease to claim his second stage of this years Tour. Chris Froome was the last rider off the ramp and came in 1:03 down on Dumoulin to claim second, but the stage win will not concern the Team Sky man, time over his rivals was the main goal, and this TT put more distance between Yates, Mollema, Bardet and most importly Nairo Quintana. Froome extended his lead over Quintana to over 2 minutes. Quintana dropping out of the top 3 with this result, with his deficit to Froome extending to 2″59.Tom Dumoulin graciously dedicated his victory speech to the victims of the Nice attack “I’m very happy but also very sad. What happened last night shadows the day. Our thoughts are with everyone of Nice”.

Stage 14

Winner: Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data)

The stage was the last chance for the pure sprinters before Paris. The break was formed after the peloton went over the category 4 climb of the day, where Thomas De Gendt picked up an extra point to help him extend his lead over the competition in the polka dot jersey classification. The break was formed of Benedetti (Bora), Howes (Cannondale), Elminger (IAM) and Roy (FDJr). The four travelled much of the day’s stage together, before being caught by the peloton in the closing stages. The stage saw two riders abandon, Matti Breschel of Cannondale after a nasty crash and last years Mathias Frank (IAM Cycling) due to illness. Once the peloton had caught the escapes, whom had battled the wind throughout the day, Katusha initially taking control until passing the responsibility to Confidis and Etixx. Cavendish found Greipel’s wheel in the Lotto Soudal lead out and easily got aroudn the big german to beat Kristoff into second with Sagan rounding off the peloton. This was Cavendish’s fourth stage victory of the tour, taking him to a personally tally of 30. Chris Froome finished safely in the group.

 

Winners of week two:

Peter Sagan

It was inevitable that Sagan would re-take his Green jersey at some point during week two, despite a strong fight from Mark Cavendish. His stage victory on stage 11, and places in intermediate sprints and late attacks guaranteed his place back atop of the points classification. Is there any point in anyone going for intermediate sprints anymore ?

Tom Dumoulin

Two stage victories in the second week, including a truly dominant display in stage 13’s TT, where a inform Chris Froome was the closest to the 25 year old Dutchman, yet still over a minute behind. Will be interesting to see how Dumoulin gets on in 18 uphill time trial. His break away victory on stage 9 was finished off with Dumoulin riding away from the reduced bunch to a solo victory with 12km to go.

Michael Matthews

“Bling” confessed he thought the Tour just wan’t his race after two dreadful previous encounters with the great race. His emotional victory on stage 10 capped off a beautiful team stage, with Matthews being quick to praise his team mates for the efforts in wearing a seemingly unbreakable Peter Sagan out, allowing him to launch his sprint against the Slovak.

Chris Froome

The big two battle continued with Fromme coming out on top. Froomey’s ability to attack on the downhills and flat roads really caught the eye in week two. Froome kicked off week two with a great victory on stage 8, He attacked to make a gap for himself in the downhill. With 5km to go, he had 25 seconds lead over the Quintana.Froome finsihed the second week atop of the overall general classification with a 1:47 lead over Bauke Mollema in second place and 2:59 advantage over big rival Nairo Quintana back in fourth place.

Week three predictions:

Emphasis on Quintana to make up the deficit on Chris Froome. Team Sky’s team dominance has been very evident, plus the unpredictability of Froome’s ability to attack on the downhills and flat roads.

Predictions:

Now we have completed week two, Again i look at who could become the overall winner of this years Tour.

Predictions after week one,

  1. Froome (Team Sky)
  2. Quintana (Movistar)
  3. Aru (Astana)

Week otwo predictions

  1. Froome (Team Sky)
  2. Quintana (Movistar)
  3. Mollema (Trek)

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