Tour de France 2013 Stage 16
Vaison-La-Romaine to Gap 168km


After a rest day, the Tour de France returned to the road with a 168km (105mi) stage from Vaison-La-Romaine to Gap. While the course profile made it a medium mountain stage, the race's position between a rest day and a time trial, slated for tomorrow, made prognosticating difficult. The guys at the top of the general classification leader board wanted an easy day, but their easy day would depend on those behind them. If those farther behind decided to try to gain time, the day would turn hard fast.

Cannondale Pro Cycling had two cards to play for Peter Sagan. One was to make sure he was in the day's breakaway. If he made it, he'd probably win the intermediate sprint and virtually lock up the Maillot Vert. If he didn't make it, hope the break is big enough to eat up all the points on the road.

Indeed, the challengers started the stage thinking it would be a day to make up some time. Attacks came thick and fast, and Sagan was in it. Even though 32 riders escaped, the field was breathing down their necks for the first 25km (15.6mi). And then, when climbers Alejandro Valverde of Movistar and Garmin-Sharp's Dan Martin crossed to the break, the field rode even faster.

And the big break was squelched after 30km (18.8mi). Shortly thereafter, another break of 25 riders went up the road. As this one contained not a single threat to the top general classification riders, the break, without Sagan this time, was given its freedom.

The break rode out a ten-minute lead while Sky rode tempo behind. With 35km(21.8mi) to go and the field so far behind as to be out of the race, the leaders started attacking one another. Two Frenchman, Christophe Riblon of AG2R and Jean Marc Marino of Saur-Sojasun attacked to take a lead into the final climb of the day, the 9.5km (5.9mi) Col de Manse. Once on the climb, the attacks came from behind. The two leaders were passed and Movistar's Rui Costa rode into the lead as the mountain continued upwards. He rode to a 40-second lead at the summit and dropped to the finish in Gap alone.

Eleven minutes behind, the general classification race came alive on the same mountaian. First, Katusha lit it up for team leader Joaquim Rodriguez. That thinned the group. Then Richie Port of Sky went to the front for his teammate, Maillot Jaune Chris Froome. That thinned the group further. Then the attacks began. The Saxo-Tinkoff tandem of Alberto Contador took turns attacking the group. The accelerations gapped Porte, but Froome was able to respond each time. When the pace slowed, Porte returned to Froome's side.

On the descent to Gap, a treacherous narrow road with countless tight turns, Contador resumed his attacking. He overcooked a corner and crashed, taking Froome off the road as well. Porte waited, and paced both back up to the chase group by the finish. There was some reshuffling at the top with Rodriguez and Movistar's Nairo Quintana moving up one place apiece, but the top four remained unchanged.

For Sagan, it was an exciting start, relaxing finish to this long day of racing. "It was an easy day. (laughter)  From the start, I was in the breakaway, and then I came back and then spent the rest of the day in the group, and came to the finish relaxed."

Tomorrow's race is a time trial. It's a 32km(20mi) race from Embrun to Chorges. The terrain is between flat and mountainous, with two second-category climbs en route. The physically bigger time trialists will have to work hard to beat the climbers who have some ability against the watch. While it is expected that Peter Sagan and the rest of his Cannondale Pro Cycling squad will ride conservatively, Sagan doesn't always conform to expectations. After his relatively easy ride today, perhaps the youngster will ride hard to pad his Green Jersey lead by a few points.

Tour de France 2013
Stage 16:Vaison-La-Romaine to Gap 168km

Stage Results

1. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team               3:52:45             
2. Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                      0:00:42             
3. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra)                                         same time
4. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits                  same time
5. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard                       same time

Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

85. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        0:19:16
123. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             same time
130. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          0:21:46
131. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       same time
133. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        same time
136. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        same time
137. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time
165. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    same time


General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        65:15:36           
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team                0:04:14             
3. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff          0:04:25             
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff                      0:04:28             
5. Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team       0:05:47           


General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

75. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              1:32:04           
99. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        1:49:02           
110. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       1:58:51             
112. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                             1:59:46             
113. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        2:00:41           
121. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          2:10:35           
125. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                        2:14:23           
165. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    2:41:26           


Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling                 377 pts
2. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step           278       
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol                                       223       
4. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano                          177
5. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha                                      157