Stage 13 Review
Not an awful lot to talk about through the day bar a four man break that consisted of Lotto’s Soudal’s Thomas De Gendt, EF-Drapac's Tom Scully, Cofidis’ Dimitri Clareys and also BMC’s Michael Schär.
Schär was the last man caught as he went until just over six kilometres to go but there was never the leeway the break needed and the tireless work of Bora-Hansgrohe and Groupeama-FDJ meant a bunch sprint.
Philippe Gilbert went with 800 meters to go and looked like a treat but he was reeled in by FDJ’s leadout who launched Arnaud Demare with a big sprint. He didn’t have the legs though, and was passed first by Alexander Kristoff and then Peter Sagan, who took his third stage of the race. The World Champion technically won his first bunch sprint at the Tour but against a decimated field. John Degenkolb was fourth and Greg Van Avermaet was fifth, the two continuing fine tours for them.
Stage 14 Preview
Stage 14: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Mende
A proper mid mountain breakway day. There’s roughly 20 kilometres before a climb out of Bourg Saint-Amedeol which is unclassified and then rolling terrain before the first climb of the day. Officially the Peloton tackle the Côte du Grand Châtaignier (Category 4, 1km at 7.4%), Col de la Croix de Berthel (Category 2, 9.1km at 5.3%), Col du Pont sans Eau (Category 3, 3.3km at 6.3%) and last but never least, the Côte de la Croix Neuve (Category 2, 3km at 10.2%)
The Côte de la Croix Neuve tops out at The Flamme Rouge - 1 kilometre to go in English - so there’s very little time before the finish and it’s clear the last climb will be the deciding factor.
Break time surely? The terrain is begging for it and lots of teams have either the roleurs to go away or the punchy riders to make late attacks.
The Côte de la Croix Neuve’s length is going to be a big factor and it’ll be hard for the punchers to get one over sprinters that can attack. Quick-Step have Julian Alaphilippe for either a late attack or a break and he’s got the climbing ability to make it and the speed in a finish if another rider’s with him.
This will be a huge test for three time stage winner Peter Sagan but he climbed well in the Alps and so did Greg Van Avermaet so they are potential choices.
Tests like these have been tough for yellow jersey contenders in the past - just ask Fabio Aru after he lost the yellow jersey to Mendez when Michael Matthews beat Greg Van Avermaet and Team Sky gapped him.
Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome just need to watch the moves but there could be a few - Dan Martin has looked lively and won on the Mur De Bretagne and Primoz Roglic won a finish like this into Trevi at Tirreno when Thomas was fourth. The steep gradients suit many of the Top 10.
There are many break contenders who could go but the teams to watch are Direct Energie (Lillian Calmejane), Cofidis (Dani Navarro, Nicolas Edet), EF Education (Dani Martinez, Pierre Rolland), and Bahrain Merida (Izaguirre brothers).
All quiet on the Western Front.