Tour de France 2013 Stage 14
Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon 191km


There's never an easy day at the Tour de France. When you're in the biggest bike race in the world, there's always an incentive to go hard. But today's stage, the 191km (119.4mi) ride from Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon offered a potential respite. The day after a brutally hard flat stage and the day before one of the most feared climbs in France is tackled, many would be excused for wanting to ease into the day's race.

For Peter Sagan and Cannondale Pro Cycling, the stage offered two paths. One is to set Sagan up for a stage win, as the day offered a relentless diet of short climbs, favoring his strengths. Another is to sit back and hope a big breakaway develops, taking all the points, thus freezing his rivals from the Maillot Vert in their places.

The first hour of racing was almost as fast as yesterday's final hour of racing, with more than 48km (30mi) covered. At the end of the 60 minutes, eighteen riders had a gap of 25 seconds. The field didn't want to let them go.

But under the steady and completely cooperative efforts of the leading group, the gap between the Sky-led peloton and the escape slowly grew. At the end of two hours, and only a slight slowing of the pace, the lead went up to a minute. And then two minutes. At 80km  (50mi) remaining, it was three minutes, at 70km (43.75mi) four minutes, and it was at this point, it was pretty clear the escape would mop up all the points for the day, both at the intermediate sprint and at the finish line.

Sky kept rolling along, while up front the break played their cards. With a 6:04 gap ahead of the peloton and only 25km (15.6) remaining, the attacks began. After lots of moves and shuffling, Saur-Sojasun's Julien Simon attacked with 15km (9.4mi) remaining. He got a small gap, but kept the pressure steady while behind, the cat-and-mouse games were enough to keep his chasers close, but not on him.

Into Lyon, and the kilometers running out, he still had a fourteen-second lead. That's when the chase got desperate. After Marcus Burghardt (BMC) closed much of the distance to Simon solo, Michael Albasini of Orica-Greenedge rode by Burghardt and Simon into the lead with one kilometer (.625mi) left. He was passed by a few riders launching early sprints.

Then Albasini jumped again, and looked to have the race until Omega Pharma-Quickstep's Matteo Trentin came thundering by on the right with Garmin-Sharp's Andrew Talansky on his wheel. Trentin took the victory on the line, with Albasini and Talansky just behind. With no points remaining, and no threats to the top riders on general classification, the field rolled in 7:17 down on Trentin.

At the finish, Sagan was both relieved and concerned. Relieved that the day was over, concerned about the mountain ahead. "I'm ready for the finish I hope. My goal for tomorrow is to come to the finish within the time limit, I hope. Maybe one part of the tour we finish now. And the third week ahead is going to be very hard, I think."

This relatively routine day in the saddle was surely the calm before the storm. Tomorrow is not only slated to be a major battle for general classification is the finish is on the summit of Mont Ventoux, but it is also Bastille Day, and the longest stage of the race. So not only will all the contenders be at the front, so too will all of the French.

The stage, 242km (151.25mi) from Givors to Mont Ventoux puts several fourth category climbs early, but rolling hills growing in size until the intermediate sprint is reached 200km (125mi) into the day at Malaucene. 21km (13.1mi) later, the town of Bedoin is reached and the 20.8km  (13mi) climb up to the weather station atop Ventoux. The climb averages a grade of 7.5% and the final several kilometers are above the tree line, leaving tired riders exposed to strong winds, furthering the difficulty. Cannondale Pro Cycling, with Peter Sagan's comfortable lead in the Points competition, can afford to sit back and let a break go and rest if the other points hunters chase.

Tour de France 2013
Stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon 191km

Stage Results

1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step          in    4:15:11             
2. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge                    at    same time
3. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp                             same time
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team                     same time
5. Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits same time       


Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

75. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        0:07:17
86. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                            same time
96. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                          same time                   
97. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                      same time
105. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time
130. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       same time
136. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        same time
177. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             0:10:22


General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        55:22:58           
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           
89. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        1:13:18           
99. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                         1:19:45           
101. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             1:20:09             
102. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        1:20:15
119. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        1:31:09             
120. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          1:32:21           
163. 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