Van Avermaet Takes Stage 13 of Tour de France
Greg van Avermaet (BMC) has won Stage 13 of the Tour de France. The Belgian classics hard man jumped into the lead in the final km and held off Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) to win the hilly, 198.5-km run from Muret to Rodez in 4:43:42. Jan Bakelants (Ag2r-La Mondiale) took third at 0:03. Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
At the gun, Alexandre Geniez (FDJ), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) sallied off of the front. At five km, Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement) joined the move. Giant-Alpecin went to the front for John Degenkolb. Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar) and Andriy Grivko (Astana) attempted to bridge up to the move, but the Dutch squad had none of it. The bunch kept the break on a short leash, and the escapees never led by more than 4:45.
After 125 km, Tinkoff-Saxo Bank took over at the front and stepped up the pace. Splits occurred in the peloton, and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) crashed at 137 km. The Frenchman, who finished second overall last year but has not shown the same form in this Tour, suffered severe road rash but rejoined the bunch after chasing for 15 km.
MTN-Qhubeka and Orica-GreenEdge assisted Tinkoff-Saxo Bank with the pacemaking, and the break’s lead was down to about 90 seconds with 24 km left. Haas attacked his companions. He created a gap, but on a uncategorized climb, the rest of the break overtook him.
With 15 km remaining, the fugitives led the field by 1:20. On the uncategorized ascent of La Primaube, De Gendt accelerated. Perichon and Geniez were dropped, Kelderman attacked, and Gautier joined him. Kelderman, Gautier, and De Gendt got clear.
MTN-Qhubeka and Giant-Alpecin led the chase. The trio’s lead was down to 0:30 with six km left. Other sprinters’ teams joined these two squads at the front. With 300 m left, the peloton caught the three leaders, and van Avermaet burst out of the bunch with Sagan on his wheel. The Slovakian attempted to pass van Avermaet, but the Belgian held him off for the win.
"It was really close," the BMC man said. "I went really early because in Le Havre [on Stage 6], everyone was waiting. So I tried to go from the bottom. It was really long the last 100 meters and I saw there was somebody in my wheel, so I just kept on sprinting. I was just hoping that he didn't come over me."
Froome said that the finale turned an easy day into a hard one. "What started out as a relatively easy day turned out to be quite heated in the final," the Sky man said. "At one point it didn’t look as though we’d bring the breakaway back, so the peloton panicked and everyone was going flat out to catch them.
"There are some tired bodies out there. It was really hot, but I much prefer those conditions to how it was yesterday with the rain and cold. I’m happy with how things went. I didn’t lose time to anyone and got through it without any major issues, and we’re another day closer to Paris.”
In the overall, Froome leads Tejay van Garderen (BMC) by 2:52 and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by 3:09. Stage 13 could produce a winner from a breakaway. The 178.5-km ride from Rodez to Mende will feature four categorized climbs, including a Category 2 ascent to the finish. Who will win? Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)? Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal)? Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin)? Check in at www.roadycling.com and find out!