Tour de France 2013 Stage 13
Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond 173km


The Thirteenth Stage of this year's Tour de France was supposed to be a formality for the sprinters. Not only was the 173km course from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond flat, but with two hard stages coming over the weekend, the race favorites wanted to conserve their legs for the coming battles.

Cannondale Pro Cycling wanted to be attentive for Peter Sagan. Defending his lead in the Maillot Vert competition was their only goal. But they could afford to sit back, as the other sprinters have a long way to go before catching up to Sagan.

After only 60km of racing and a six-rider break up the road, the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team saw their opportunity and took it. With the wind battering the peloton, they saw a chance to blow the race apart. By doing this, they hoped that sprinters who could rival Cavendish would be on the wrong end of the explosion.

As Omega Pharma drove the pace, the pack split. And Argos-Shimano's Marcel Kittel, winner of three sprint stages, was on the wrong side of the split. So, too, was second-placed Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, who had the misfortune of a flat tire as the race was coming apart.

Seeing this, the Belkin team went to the front to help Omega Pharma drive the field, hoping it would put their top man, Bauke Mollema into second. On the road, it looked like that was happening, as the lead group went into the intermediate sprint at 60.5km remaining with a 1:23 gap. Cannondale, with riders at the front with Sagan, led him out, but both came around Sagan to go first and second, with Sagan losing only a few points in third.

Omega Pharma and Lotto-Belisol still had the stage win in mind and with Belkin contributing to the chase, the gap to the Kittel-Valverde group grew.

With 35km remaining, Saxo-Tinkoff went to the front. They rode an echelon in the crosswind to break apart the leading group for their leader Alberto Contador and his first lieutenant, Roman Kreuziger. With Saxo driving, the group was whittled down to fifteen. Yellow Jersey Chris Froome of Sky was gapped. As was Greipel. But Sagan and Cavendish, each with teammates, and the top Belkin riders were all accounted for.

Valverde was watching the race ride away from him. Froome, his team weakening every kilometer, only watched as his two remaining Sky teammates worked with Lotto in the hopes of averting disaster.

Coming into Saint-Amand-Montrond, Saxo was still firing on all cylinders, trying to get every second they could on Froome. Into the final kilometer, and Omega Pharma's Nikki Terpstra attacked to stretch out the lead group. Cannondale's Maciej Bodnar chased him down. That done, Omega Pharma's Sylvain Chavanel wound up for the sprint with Sagan on his wheel. Chavanel swung off with 300 meters remaining. Sagan paused. And Cavendish blew by him for the win. Sagan easily taking second, winning the best young rider competition on the day, but losing points to Cavendish, who is now 83 points down on Sagan in the race for the Green Jersey

 While it's hard to beat Cavendish, Sagan was frustrated with his second place. "I was a little bit stupid today. I must be on Cavendish's wheel, not him on my wheel. But it was hard for everyone today. Very stressful. I was happy to make the front group. Saxo went hard when the tailwind came. Cavendish and I were the last riders to make it to the Saxo group."    

Stage Fourteen, starting in Saint-Pourcain-Sur-Sioule and finishing 191km later Lyon promises to be another day-long grinder. Seven categorized climbs on a day of rolling hills means that the pressure will probably be on all day. It's the kind of ride where Peter Sagan can hang with the climbers and rouleurs and then smoke them all in the sprint. Cannondale Pro Cycling will keep him sheltered as long as possible so Sagan will be ready to go with the later moves.

Tour de France 2013
Stage 13 Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond 173km

Stage Results

1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    in    3:40:08             
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling          at    same time
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team                same time
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team                             same time
5. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step                same time

Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

13. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                          0:00:19           
35. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                         0:01:09
86. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        0:09:54
103. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          same time
141. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        0:10:11
146. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             same time
176. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    0:13:36


General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        51:00:30           
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team                0:02:28             
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff          0:02:45             
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                      0:02:48             
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team            0:03:01           


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

57. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              0:52:58           
86. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        1:13:18           
92. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               1:17:04           
97. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                         1:19:45           
99. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                          1:20:15           
119. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        1:31:09             
120. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          1:32:21           
165. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    1:58:12           


Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling                 357  pts
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step           273       
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol                                       217       
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          177       
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha                                      157