Tour de France 2013 Stage 19
Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand 205km


The organizers of the Tour de France wanted something special to celebrate the 100th edition of the race. They designed a course that departed from tradition in many ways, possibly the most significant of which was stacking the final mountain stages at the end of the last week, hoping that the design would leave the victor of the race in question until the final climb. That climb is tomorrow. Today, on the 204.5km  (127.8mi) stage from Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand, the riders had five passes to ascend, starting off with two beasts, and then putting in three leg-breakers thereafter, with the final climb topping out a mere 13km (8.1mi) from the finish.

The race tackled the 21.6km (13.5mi) Col du Glandon a mere 12km (7.5mi) from the start. And rather than ride a steady tempo so everyone could get over it, the race came to life as soon as the mountain road began. The fastest rider to this summit was Garmin-Sharp's Ryder Hesjedal, once an early pick to be among the contenders. His disastrous first week left him in the hunt for a stage win and something to salvage his Tour. Just behind, seemingly breaking his promise of a day ago, was Cannondale Pro Cycling's Moreno Moser, crossing the summit in fourth.

While Moser would fade back to the peloton and into the grupetto, the bunch of riders just trying to make the finish before the time cut, his teammate, Alessandro De Marchi, made it into the bunch of twenty riders that chased Hesjedal down the Glandon and up the equally gigantic Col de Madeleine, a 19.2km (12mi) rise. In the chasers were two riders in the hunt for King of the Mountain points, Europcar's Pierre Rolland and Euskatel's Mikel Nieve. Both riders needed points to dislodge Maillot Jaune Chris Froome of Team Sky from the lead of the competition for the Mountain Leader jersey.

Rolland escaped the chase, caught up with Hesjedal, and took maximum points at the Madeleine's summit. He dropped Hesjedal on the next mountain, took maximum points atop the Tamie. Rolland needed to win the next climb, and take points on the final climb to take the Polka Dot jersey.

As Rolland slogged away on his lonely escapade, the field, or what remained of it, was under the control of the Saxo-Tinkoff team. It was unclear if they were setting the pace to give their leader, second-placed Alberto Contador, a springboard for a late attack to gain time on Froome or a defensive move, aimed at ensuring they kept the lead in the Team General Classification. Either way, their steady pressure was breaking legs.

Rolland took the next climb, the Col de l'Epine, as the chase maintained their distance, and the steady pressure of the Saxo-led pack shed riders off the back.

Onto the final climb, with Rolland tiring and the chase with De Marchi still lurking, Movistar's Rui Costa, attacked. Neither De Marchi nor anyone had the legs to resond. Costa went around Rolland and summitted on his own.

Behind, Nieve snagged one point for sixth place and Rolland none: Rolland would wear the Polka Dot jersey tomorrow, as Froome maintained his lead in that competition and as the second-placed rider Rolland would have the honor.

Saxo's pressure was destroying most of their own team while most of the top ten riders remained. While Contador proved unable to attack the final mountain, the pace also deterred third-placed Nairo Quintana from Movistar from attacking. But it didn't stop Quintana's teammate Alejandro Valverde, who was keen to sneak into the top ten.

At the finish line, Costa savored a solo victory, his second of the Tour. De Marchi crossed the line in eighth place, a great result in his first tour. Contador and the rest of the Maillot Jaune group caught Valverde on the line, but his heroics moved him into ninth overall. The top three remained unchanged.

De Marchi was wasted, but joyed by his ride. "I tried getting into the break even if I knew it was hard. The rhythm was high for the entire stage and the riders in the breakaway were strong. I did my best and I’m happy for this. It’s a success for me. This is my first Tour de France and I’m doing all that I can to be among the best. We’re facing the third week and a ride like this so late in the Tour make me happy. I knew Rui Costa was the strongest in the group, but I had to be realistic and admit that was impossible for me to follow him. These experiences are really useful to improve in the future." 

Looking forward, his teammate, Maillot Vert Peter Sagan, was happy. "Everyone is tired, but tomorrow is the final hard day, and then Paris. I don't think I need to do anything special to keep the Green Jersey in Paris, but of course, I'm going to give it my maximum."

Tomorrow's race, Stage Twenty, the 125km (78.1mi)ride from Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz, is short, but hard enough that race leader Froome should be worried. The opening 51km  (31.8km) have four categorized climbs, which will make it hard for tired legs to get comfortable and establish a rhythm, and then there are two big mountains to scale, the 14.9km (9.3mi) Mont Revard and the 10.7km (6.7mi) Annecy-Semnoz. Cannondale Pro Cycling will ride to get one of their own into an early break, and do their best to keep in front of the chase from behind, which is guaranteed to be raging. As this is the last mountain stage and the penultimate stage, no one in the top ten nor any of their teammates have any reason to leave anything in the tank.


Tour de France 2013
Stage 19: Bourg d'Oisans to Le Grand Bornand 205km


Stage Results

1. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team       in     5:59:01             
2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard               at     0:00:48             
3. Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard                           0:01:44             
4. Alexandre Geniez (Fra)                                           0:01:52             
5. Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits     0:01:55             


Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

8. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                                 0:02:05           
71. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                            0:27:19             
72. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        same time
77. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                         same time
79. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                          same time
104. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                            same time
107. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        same time
152. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    0:35:24


General Classification

1. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling                        77:10:00           
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

65. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               1:58:02           
84. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              2:20:09           
95. Kristijan Koren (Slo)                                                        2:34:05             
96. Moreno Moser (Ita)                                                          2:34:11           
106. Alan Marangoni (Ita)                                                       2:45:54           
114. Maciej Bodnar (Pol)                                                        2:52:17           
119. Fabio Sabatini (Ita)                                                          2:59:48           
163. Brian Vandborg (Den)                                                    3:41:05           


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