Tour de France 2013 Stage 18
Gap to Alpe d'Huez 168.5km


The Tour de France promised fireworks with the 168.5km (105.3mi) Eighteenth Stage. The route from Gap to the top of Alpe d'Huez climbed the legendary Alpe d'Huez twice, and included an extra climb and treacherous descent between the two ascents. Sure enough, there were plenty of fireworks. Cannondale Pro Cycling, as usual, was in on the explosions.

Believing that Team Sky of race leader Chris Froome was weak, the attacks came from the start, as the first climb of the day went up yesterday's final descent, just a few kilometers out of town. Froome was quickly isolated as the Belkin, Movistar, and Saxo-Tinkoff teams lit it up right away. After the climb, things settled down. A move of nine rode away unchallenged. In the move was Cannondale's Moreno Moser, along with last year's White jersey winner Tejay Van Garderen of BMC, and AG2R's Christophe Riblon, whose been on the attack frequently this Tour.

At the intermediate sprint within sight of Alpe d'Huez, the group had over seven minutes. Behind, Cannondale led out Peter Sagan for 10th place points, but he was beaten to the line by Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol. Sagan's lead in the Maillot Vert race was actually extended, as he gained points on second-place Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quickstep.

Ahead on the Alpe, Riblon was attacking to blow apart the group. Van Garderen and Moser came with, but Moser struggled on the way up. As the roads flattened out, Moser returned and won the KoM points atop the Alpe. Onto the next climb, the Col de Sarenne, Van Garderen picked up the pace, dropping Moser.

As they snaked the tricky descent, Van Garderen had gear problems and stopped to switch bikes. This allowed Moser an opportunity to ride past Van Garderen, and then Riblon rode off the road on a tight bend, ceding the lead to Moser.

As the tricky part of the descent ended, Moser and Riblon were together.  Van Garderen made up a 45-second gap to rejoin them.

Behind, the race for the overall was starting to boil. Saxo, which had been aggressive early and had their tactical gambits thwarted by Sky on the run in to the Alpe, had their best two riders, Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger, second and third on general classification, attack the most technical portion of the Sarenne descent. Froome had shown weakness descending before; now was the time to really test his skills. While they rode to an almost 30-second gap, Sky rode hard on the open roads leading to the second ascent of the Alpe to bring them back.

Up front, with the final climb of the Alpe beginning, Riblon attacked to drop Moser. Then Van Garderen returned the favor, attacking Riblon and forging a 40-second solo lead.

A bit further back, Sky's Richie Porte was softening up the Yellow Jersey group for Froome. Froome then attacked and shed Kreuziger while the others fought to stay with him. White Jersey Nairo Quintana of Movistar along with Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha bridged and joined Froome. Richey Porte of Sky felt obligated to join his yellow-clad teamate for support.

Then Quintana picked up the pace, putting Froome into difficulty. As Froome struggled, his teammate Porte broke race rules by going back to the team car for food and then taking it back up to Froome. While this is going on, Quintana and Rodriguez rode away for good.

With two kilometers remaining, Van Garderen was caught by Riblon, who immediately attacked and dropped the BMC rider. Van Garderen had nothing left and could only watch as Riblon rode to victory. Van Garderen came in second while Moser, who was barely seen by the cameras the entire climb, rode in for third, a great result for the young Italian, his best result in the Tour, on a year when he was riding to learn.

At the finish, Moser was elated. "Today was the first day since the start in which I feel really good. In the morning, it didn't seem a good day to go in breakaway because we expected a big fight among the GC riders. Then, when the first riders escaped from the peloton, I decided to follow my instinct and try. I'm happy for the result and for my performance. When Van Garderen accelerated I knew he was stronger than me as a climber so I decided to proceed with my rhythm. I think I raced with intelligence. Following him and Riblon was too hard for me. The Alpe d'Huez was really an amazing show, something that I'll keep inside for all my career. Tomorrow I'll race in the gruppetto because for sure I'll pay for today's efforts, but I have no regrets"

Tomorrow, Stage Nineteen starts in Bourg d'Oisans, at the foot of Alpe d'Huez. The riders pedal a few flat kilometers and encounter the 21.5km Col du Glandon, starting another long day in the saddle. 204.5km in all, climbing four more mountain passes before descending to Le Grand Bornand. With Peter Sagan's Maillot Vert all but secure, expect to see another member of Cannondale Pro Cycling on the attack and in the day's breakaway.


Tour de France 2013
Stage 18: Gap to Alpe d'Huez 168.5km

1. Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                      4:51:32             
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team                  0:00:59             
3. Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling              0:01:27            
4. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team       0:02:12             
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha                           0:02:15


Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

19. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               0:05:47           
78. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                         0:25:10
108. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       0:25:49           
113. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          0:27:06             
114. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time
133. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        0:30:03                                     
135. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    same time


General Classicficaiton

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        71:02:19           
2. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff          0:05:11             
3. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team       0:05:32             
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                      0:05:44             
5. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha                           0:05:58


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

79. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              2:01:30           
83. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               2:04:37           
94. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        2:15:26           
96. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                          2:15:32           
111. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       2:27:15           
117. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        2:33:38           
120. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          2:41:09           
162. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    3:14:21           


Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling                 380 pts
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step           278       
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol                                       227       
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          177       
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha                                      157