Cavendish Wins Stage 13 of Tour de France; Standings Shaken

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07/13/2013| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Mark Cavendish powers to victory in stage 13 of Tour de France 2013 Fotoreporter Sirotti

Cavendish Wins Stage 13 of Tour de France; Standings Shaken

Stage 13 was supposed to be an uneventful transition stage that the sprinters would decide. The cycling gods, however, decreed otherwise. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a sprint from Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) to win the flat, 173-km run from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond in 3:40:08, but Cavendish’s victory paled in importance next to the elimination of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) as a GC threat and the rise of Mollema and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff). Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune, but his lead has been reduced and he and his team have been shown to be vulnerable.

Stage 13 was supposed to be an uneventful transition stage that the sprinters would decide. The cycling gods, however, decreed otherwise. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a sprint from Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) to win the flat, 173-km run from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond in 3:40:08, but Cavendish’s victory paled in importance next to the elimination of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) as a GC threat and the rise of Mollema and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff). Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune , but his lead has been reduced and he and his team have been shown to be vulnerable.

The stage began like a routine transitional sprint stage. At two km, Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) attacked, and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Yohann Gene (Europcar), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM), and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun) followed. The break led the bunch by 2:30 at 20 km and by 3:50 at 55 km. Omega Pharma-Quick Step went to the front and pegged the gap at 2:20. The Belgian squad’s acceleration split the peloton into three parts with the heads of state in the lead group and Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) in the third group. Stage 12 winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) was in the second group.

The wind died down, and Kittel’s group had nearly joined the front group when Omega Pharma-Quick Step accelerated again. Belkin joined the Belgian team, and the gap reopened. The combustion reduced the escapees’ advantage to 0:30 with 98 km left.

On the Category 4 Cote de Crotz, the bunch overtook the break. At the summit, the front group led Kittel’s group by 0:50. At the feedzone with 87 km left, the lead group led Kittel’s group by 1:05 and Hesjedal’s group by 2:15. Valverde, who began the day in second overall, punctured. He took a wheel from a teammate, and three Movistar men dropped back to pace him back to the front group, while a fourth dropped back to help him.

For a time, it appeared that the Spaniard would rejoin the front group. Belkin, however, joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the front and brought the hammer down. Movistar joined forces with Argos-Shimano and Orica-GreenEdge. The chase group trailed the lead group by 1:19 with 69 km left.

The Valverde group closed to within 0:50 with 50 km to go, but Belkin accelerated again. A number of riders, including Richie Porte (Sky), dropped out of the lead group, and 10 km later, the yellow jersey group led the Valverde group by 2:00. With 35 km left, the gap had widened to 2:30.

Three km later, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff went into team time trial mode. The Danish squad, which came within 0:09 of winning the Stage 4 team time trial, went to the front of the lead group and accelerated. The front group split, and Froome and several Sky teammates were left behind. The new lead group consisted of Roman Kreuziger, Daniele Bennati, Nicolas Roche, Michael Rogers, and Matteo Tosatto (all from Saxo Bank-Tinkoff); Mollema and Laurens Ten Dam (both from Belkin); Jakob Fuglsang

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