Stage 13: Bourg-Saint-Andeol – La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc
37.5km – Individual Time Trial
Yesterday The Wolf gave up trying to figure out Chris Froome’s tactics but he never imagined he’d be seen running up the final part of Mont Ventoux, minus his bike, in sheer panic! In outrageous scenes that will go down as one of the most iconic moments in 113 years of Tour history, the defending champion, wearing the Maillot Jaune, was caught up in a crash with fellow riders Richie Porte & Bauke Mollema.
With only around 1.5km of the stage to the finish line remaining, Porte smashed into the back of a stationary motorbike, which had a knock on effect to both Froome & Mollema. Both Porte & Mollema were able to continue but Froome’s bike was destroyed. With no support vehicle close by he had little option but to turn into Haile Gebrselassie and run for the finish line. If that was unbelievable then what came next was just absurd. One of the official support vehicles gave Froome a bike to jump on, one that was about 4 sizes too small for him and didn’t have the correct pedals for his shoes. He eventually got a replacement bike and finished the stage but not before all of his main rivals had powered past him with confused looks on their faces. He lost 1min 21secs on the stage, provisionally putting him in 6th place overall, however, thankfully the jury panel decided to amend both his & Porte’s time to match that of Bauke Mollema, leaving Froome in the lead of the race, with a 53 second advantage over Yates.
Up to that point the stage had been going perfectly for Froome. The flat part of the stage was fast and nervous but his team had controlled the peloton nicely up to the base of the Mont Ventoux. The early breakaway group had opened up a healthy gap of almost 20mins when the peloton decided to chase them down and that gap had been whittled down to about 9minutes with over 50km left to race, leaving the peloton in prime position to catch them. However, one of the Team Sky riders suffered an issue and the peloton decided to sit up and wait for the Maillot Jaune and his team. This gave the breakaway the opportunity to push for the stage win and a fantastic ride from Thomas De Gendt saw him take the victory.
Once the main group was on the climb of Mont Ventoux the pace was furious and the group was whittled down to around 15 of the main GC contenders. A battle ensued with Quintana putting in a big attack on Froome, however the defending champion proved his calibre by easily bringing Quintana back. Further up the mountain, Froom attacked, and along with Porte and Mollema, managed to drop the Colombian and the rest of the group. They had opened up a big gap when Porte crashed, leaving the stage to finish in chaotic scenes. The Wolf was unlucky with his picks as Froome, Porte & Mollema, all tipped for the stage win, were clearly the strongest riders on the stage, and if it wasn’t for the peloton sitting up when they did, one of them would have won the stage.
This is not the place to be discussing race safety but something has to be done about crowd control. Due to the truncated stage, all of the people that had gathered at the summit of Mont Ventoux had to move down the mountain, leaving the final part of the stage overcrowded. There was an estimated 400,000 people cheering on their heroes on the mountain, but it is clear that riders need better protection.
Stage 13 – Individual Time Trial
The first of 2 ITTs in this year’s race, Stage 13 will be an hour of pain for the riders that are going full pelt for the full 37.5km trying to put time into their rivals. There is an uphill start to the stage and a nasty kick towards the finish. It looks to be a very technical parcours, with a number of switchbacks on the first descent. This will disadvantage riders like Tony Martin, who are used to punching out a big cadence and sticking to that. Riders will need to be able to adjust their rhythm based on the course in front of them and we should see a good spectacle with lots of action.
Back in 2012, Bradley Wiggins won a similar style of TT by 34 seconds and the likes of Froome will be hoping for the same result today. TT time gaps can be more decisive on the race result than some mountain stages these days so expect to see a very definite final podum picture at the end of the day.
Dumoulin – $2.70
Having already won a stage in the Tour, the Dutchman will be going into the stage high on confidence. The course suits him perfectly as he loves hilly time trials and this will be a big test for him, given that another of his goals is Olympic gold on a similar style of stage. He started the race slowly but has been coming into good form, as proven by his stage win in the Pyrenees. He is the favourite for the stage win and rightly so.
Froome – $4
Once one of the best time triallists in the world, Froome has not been as competitive in this area for a couple of years. Whether this is due to a lack of form or simply because he hasn’t had to focus on this area of riding is uncertain, however his performance on stage 11, bridging the gap to Sagan & Bodnar, was impressive. It remains to be seen how yesterday’s events have affected him but the course could suit him as it has a couple of uphill sections.
T. Martin – $6
Whilst the parcours doesn’t suit the German, he has been training on this type of course with the Olympics in mind. He hasn’t been as dominant in time trials as he once was, winning only one TT this year, however he is in good form and should be fresher than some of the GC contenders.
Dennis – $10
The Australian has had a quiet race up to this point, but the Wolf has noticed that he is staying on the mountain for longer than in previous years, likely due to his Olympic preparation. Dennis has a tendency to fade during Grand Tours but this course suits his skills and if he can recover from yesterday he has the ability to take out the stage win here.
Pinot – $26
The French national champion has 2 TT wins in 2016 and has completely changed the way that he rides the discipline. He beat Dumoulin at the Tour of Romandie earlier this year on a hilly stage and this course suits him well. He is at big odds here and could spring a surprise if his recovery from yesterday has gone well.
Izaguirre – $34
2016 has seen a resurgence in the Spaniard’s time trialling. He destroyed the field in the Tour de Suisse and then won the prologue in the Tour de Romandie. His inconsistency is a drawback, however the course suits him perfectly and with Movistar eyeing off the team classification, he should be allowed to go on the attack here.