Tour de France 2013 Stage 20
Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz 125km


With the King of the Mountains, team general classification competitions still undecided, and second through tenth place still uncertain, the short, 125km (78.1mi) penultimate stage of the Tour de France from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz was bound to be hard. It wasn't just the six categorized climbs, including the 10.7km (6.7km) final climb pitching up at an average gradient of 8.7%, which was going to break legs.

Looking at the Maillot Vert standings, Cannondale Pro Cycling didn't have to do much today. If there were any points left to grab at the intermediate sprint, they'd need to set up Peter Sagan to pick off some points. Barring any bizarre incidents, the Green Jersey was his for keeps.

The race fast started fast out of the blocks. Europcar's Pierre Rolland, while wearing the Polka Dot Jersey of best climber, was actually second in that competition. He went on the attack with his teammate Cyril Gautier from the start in the hopes of snagging enough points to secure the jersey for good. At the top of the first climb, he was in a group of ten, and looking like he had to win every summit and place on the final climb to keep the jersey.

Back in the field, the fast men were going for eleventh place. Cannondale led into the sprint, but both Andre Greipel of Lotto-Belisol and Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quickstep burst by Sagan, picking up a few points. Still, the sprint clinched Green for Sagan.

Up front, the group stayed together until the start of the 15.9km (9.9mi) Mont Revard climb, where one of the escapees, RadioShack's Jens Voigt, picked up the pace at the bottom of the climb and rode everybody off his wheel. Rolland's hopes for the King of the Mountain title took a hit. The Revard is long and hard, and the chase of nine broke apart, and when BMC's Tejay Van Garderen and Philippe Gilbert rode away from the field, the tandem picked up the pieces of the chase and formed a new chase group that started chipping away at Voigt's advantage on the descent.

As the chase got close to the ancient German elder statesman of the Peloton, Sky, riding for race leader Chris Froome, took over the chase from the field. On the run in to the final climb, the ascent of the Semnoz, Sky blew apart the remainder of the field and swept up the chase group just before the climb began. Rolland was caught and blown out the back. With Yellow Jersey Chris Froome and White Jersey Nairo Quintana close to Rolland on points, and lots of KoM points for the top finishers, chances became one of them would take the title as well.

Voigt kept churning away, but Sky, burning their own riders, caught the RadioShack rider with 8.5km (5.3mi) remaining. Richie Porte took up pacing duties for Froome. Then Movistar's Alejandro Valverde attacked. The move was either to set up his teammate Quintana or for himself to take stage honors.

Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez, thinking about moving up onto the podium, attacked. Quintana followed. Froome jumped, too, dropping Contador.

Froome, Quintana, and Rodriguez took over the lead, with all three riding together. Contador, struggling on his own, was caught by his teammate Kreuziger, who took up chasing for Contador. Still, Contador kept losing time.

Going into the last two kilometers (1.2mi), it was clear that Contador was going to lose his podium place. Rodriguez had to attack Quintana to move into second. But it was Froome who attacked both. Quintana responded, and passed the race leader with a kilometer (.625mi) remaining. Rodriguez did the same.

Quintana took the stage win, and with both second place for the Tour and the Polka Dot jersey of the King of the Mountains. Rodriguez took over third place on general classification. Froome came in third and confirmed that the Tour de France would be his.

Considerably farther behind, Sagan came to the finish line surrounded by his Cannondale teammates. He wheelied for the crowds, and did a massive skid after crossing the line. It was a celebration of a competition clinched. "I won the Green Jersey last year, but it's not the same every year. I'm very happy for one stage and green jersey. I'm happy because we've done three difficult weeks and tomorrow we'll see. It's another day. I want to do well and win on the Champs-Elysees. It's a dream for a sprinter."

Tomorrow, the 100th Tour de France finishes in the city of lights at twilight. The entire race moves to Versailles for the start. While the home of kings is only a short distance from Paris, the route first heads south before turnign turning north and riding into the city, arriving at the finishing circuit 69.5km  (43.4mi) from the finish. The race then rides ten laps of a 6.5km (4mi) loop up and down the Champs-Elysees and around the Tuileries. The intermediate sprint is on the fourth lap of the circuit. While all Peter Sagan needs to do is finish, he'll hardly be satisfied with that, so expect to see the entire Cannondale Pro Cycling squad at the front in the final kilometers, doing battle with the sprint trains from Lotto-Belisol and Omega Pharma-Quickstep. The sprint is sure to be contested by the fastest men of the Tour.

Tour de France 2013
Stage 20:  Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz 125km


Stage Results

1. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team       3:39:04             
2. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha                           0:00:18             
3. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        0:00:29             
4. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team            0:01:42             
5. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling                                                 0:02:17           


Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

109. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            0:20:04             
110. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        same time
111. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    same time
112. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          same time
125. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                      0:24:10             
126. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        same time
130. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       0:24:55             
131. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             same time       


General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        80:49:33           
2. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team       0:05:03             
3. Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha                           0:05:47             
4. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff          0:07:10             
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                      0:08:10           


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

71. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               2:22:28           
84. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              2:39:44           
97. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                          2:53:46           
100. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                      2:57:46           
110. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       3:10:20           
115. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        3:15:58             
117. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          3:19:23           
154. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    4:00:40           


Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling                 383  pts
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step           282       
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol                                       232       
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          177       
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha                                      157