Tour de France Stage 13 Preview

Tour de France Stage 13

Another day, another sprint? Yes and if I’d pencilled in today’s run as the most boring of this year’s Tour de France there’s always room surprise, especially for the superstitious on Stage 13. Yesterday we saw Chris Froome narrowly avoid a crash whilst team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen left the race with a broken shoulder.

There are not many chances left in the Tour for the sprinters. Perhaps tomorrow but that’s uncertain and then all that remains is Paris. With so few chances left for the sprinters to win this means high pressure to deliver.

Stage 12 Review
The stage started outside the railway station of Fougères and finished with the Argos-Shimano and OPQS sprint trains pulling into Tours. If we’d been wondering who was the fastest sprinter perhaps we got the answer with Marcel Kittel? Perhaps but it’s not definitive as André Greipel was thwarted by a crash. Plus I thought Mark Cavendish went early in the sprint, allowing Kittel to shelter and then turn on the power. Kittel’s background is as a time trial ace and in the 2010 Worlds in Geelong, Australia he was on the podium with Taylor Phinney and Luke Durbridge for the U-23 time trial. This might mean he’s got the ability to turn on the power for a long duration rather than Cavendish’s kick. Listening to the Humans Invent podcast (16m30s onwards) Daniel Friebe reports Cavendish has been making several big costly efforts during the final four kilometres rather than cruising at a steady wattage before launching his move.

Stage 13 Preview

  • Km 77.5 – Côte de Crotz 1.2km at 4% – category 4

A long flat day that’s a celebration of French agribusiness. It’s not quite Kansas or the Ukraine but the wheat fields go on and one. The race heads through the heart of France, if not the beating heart then the Cartesian centre with the village of Bruère-Allichamps claiming to be the village at the geographic middle of France.

The bump at the end of the stage shown by the profile is nothing to worry about either. It’s not steep, it’s not long, it’s not narrow. It’s nothing. St Amand Montrond has often featured in Paris-Nice as the destination for the first road stage and a regular sprint finish.

The Finish

A tricky run through town. St Amand Montrond is not a big place and the race will cut across the town in no time. Note the obstacles on the way, some are unavoidable but that kink in the final kilometre is strange. The race could go straight but it gets sent left then does a sharp right turn before turning left again to pick up the finishing straight… oddly the Rue Pelletier d’Oisy rather than the nearby Avenue du Tour de France. The left-right-left slalom seems to avoid an asymmetric roundabout so it could be a safety option but it will string out the bunch before last 470metres of the final straight.

The Scenario
Another bunch sprint looks likely. The breakaways are futile there are too many teams hoping to win the sprint. OPQS, Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol will work all day plus Sky might ride out of pride for the yellow jersey and this is before we think of Cannondale toiling for Peter Sagan or Orica-Greenedge for Matthew Goss. So take your pick from Kittel, Greipel, Sagan and Cavendish. I think all these riders are faster than the others and it’ll be interesting to see their performance once again.

Weather: sunny and warm. A light crosswind coming from the north-east is forecast but nothing to get excited about.

TV: live from 2.20pm Euro time. Once again the action should come at the end so tune in from 4.30pm to catch the build-up to the sprint.

All Change
Today is the last of the certain sprint stages until Paris. Tomorrow could still suit the sprinters, notably Peter Sagan but the probability of a breakaway succeeding now soars for the race. The same is true for the scenery and note the correlation, the more varied and interesting the terrain the better the chance of a move sticking.

50 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 13 Preview”

  1. Once Cavendish gets the jump, he always wins. Last night he had a great lead out, got the jump, and Kittel was good enough to come around him.

    When has that ever happened before?

  2. The problem for Cavendish is that his initial acceleration does not open a couple of lengths on his rivals anymore. I have noticed this over the last twelve months. I guess he is showing the Robby McK trajectory of age blunting the speed. Are we seeing the twilight of an exceptional sprinter – only time will tell, but the signs are surely there for all to see.

      • With due respect, the likes of Viviani and Nizzolo are not in the same league as Griepel, Kittel or Sagan. Not demeaning Cav’s achievement in the Giro, it was a fantastic effort to take 5 stages and red, but I think he hasn’t had the usual spark in this years tour as well as being up against some top class sprinters.

        • I agree that the competition wasn’t as tough but he still completed a hugely difficult three week tour prior to coming to France and won the GB road race afterwards. He won pretty much everything that he could at the Giro and was still fortunate to take the points jersey. I wouldn’t be surprised if winning red at the Giro was the season’s aim given that Sagan can’t be beaten for green in France. It might be that he’s off of his season’s peak. Kittel has been fantastic though.

          • Can’t believe Cav prioritised the Giro over the Tour, or that his team would let him. It’s possible the Giro and extra races, crashes/bronchitis, different training methods, or off-race distractions have left him off peak form, but my guess is Kittel might now have the edge in top speed. Guess we’ll need to wait until next year’s Tour to say for certain. Maybe Cav has sacrificed some high end velocity for greater stamina to cope with the parcours generally getting tougher – if so, it’s cost him in the first two weeks.

            Will be interesting to see if teams start playing round with Argos in the lead-out, and force them to work all day on flat stages, rather than Cav always taking the brunt of this.

  3. Speaking about Froome, there has been a lot of talk regarding his power/watts lately and demands on Team Sky to present those values and make them public. Does any other team give away power/watt data on riders?

    • Many teams do, including Team Sky who share some data via their sponsor Training Peaks. Garmin-Sharp publish some too and most relevantly we have Alejandro Valverde’s SRM data from the climb to Ax-3 Domaines.

          • Thanks! I had gooogled it, with no results. But yes, it’s not the same stage: it shows that Valverde was not super on the Peyresourde or the Hourquette d’Ancizan, and that’s why Movistar didn’t really try to finish Froome off, or that perhaps he could have pushed himself harder but chose to save his energies for a rainy day. I think it was the former.

          • VERY interesting to see Valverde’s data! Pulling almost 800W when Quintana’s attacked on the final climb. For a guy of his size, at that stage of the race, that’s massive. Perhaps more interesting, was how the larger Froome was looking relatively comfortable at the same time?

            Shame the only ‘pseudo-scientist’ we have to hand to project Froome’s performance might be is Antoine Vayer…..

          • StephenM – I would have thought it’s not so much how much peak power can be produced briefly, it’s how many times they can do this and what their average power output is that is the issue.

            While Valverde is listed as peaking at 800W, it says his average power over the half hour ascent of the Hourquette d’Ancizan is 323.4 Watts – which is 5.3W/kg at 61kg. My understanding is that it isn’t that remarkable for a top of the elite athlete to be able to put out that power for that duration.

  4. Didn’t Lotto take a lot of beating yesterday? Greg Henderson starting todays stage with brand new stitches, Sieberg was involved etc. Do you think that could give Greipel a slight disadvantage in todays bunch sprint?

  5. Kittel’s victory yesterday made it three German victories in a row…a first in TdF history..maybe they’ll extend that to 4 today?!
    These sprints are getting harder to predict…before i used to pick cav for every sprint stage and he never disappointed me…now its a whole new thing…more exciting though.

        • Yes, but unfortunately, this goes completely unnoticed by the German media, who have retired from the Tour some years ago. They do not even have own images or a crew on site, but use the “free” broadcast by the host company for the very short reports ( a few seconds..).
          Quite sad when you see the results and the good credibility of Kittel, Greipel, Degenkolb, Martin..
          Any other country would be cycling-mad by now if their riders produced such results.

          • Agreed re German cycling. Kittel, Tony Martin and Greipel are fantastic examples for young cyclists with good morals, not afraid to speak out about doping. Unfortunately they are still paying the price for the past and the worldwide audience gets to appreciate thm even if their home fans struggle.

          • I totally agree, Germany should try to get over the Telekom incident. One ‘unfortunate incident’ doesn’t have to mean that they should snub the whole sport altogether. any other country would have become cycling mad as ‘German Cycling’ just pointed out.
            I mean look at the UK. The Sky phenomenon ignited – or maybe re-ignited – their love of cycling, which is a great thing…more interest, more sponsors, more money into the sport, more development, more lots of good stuff.
            German riders are also voicing their frustration about this German Media cycling snub. i remember that i read a tweet by Simon Geschke complaining about it after Kittel’s third win yesterday.
            I hope they do pick themselves up and embrace cycling again, soon.

  6. The best chance not too have yet another siesta sprint stage, bar crashes, is for someone like Tony Martin to take off in the descent of that slight bump with 7km to go. Could he keep a whole peloton at bay at 60+ kph? I don’t know, but I sure wish he’d try.

    • Ah yes, in a Thierry Marie / Cancellara style.

      Doesn’t happen so much these days it seems, but I guess when you see Chavanel going a bloc just to keep the OPQS train near the front you can see why.

      For what its worth I’ve put my daily £2 on Griepel today, if only because he’s the best value at 6/1. These sprint stages are boring for 90% of the day, but they’d be a whole lot duller if you knew who was going to win at the end of them. Can’t really separate Kittel / Cav / Gorilla.

      • But Steegmans and Cavendish would have a more relaxed time while Argos and Lotto break their backs trying to bring Martin back. Dunno, maybe they could try, for a change.

      • Yes, this is why cycling needs seriously to reconsider some of its race structures as outlined in the Time Trial post by INRG yesterday. I guess if you make the teams smaller (6 riders per team) and invite 3 more teams, the racing on flat stages would be more exciting, as the lead out trains would be less strong. In the old days, there was every now and then a GC contender going on the attack on a flat stage. Nowadays, this is not happening anymore, beware crosswinds, crashes or other disasters.

      • Better way to use Martin is to let him do what Wiggins did for Cav at the world’s two years back: setting the pace so high at the final several Km that other teams simply cannot get into position. Maybe the problem with OPQS sprinting train wasn’t Steegmans but the lack of initial power due to Martin’s injury. Now that Martin has recovered somewhat, maybe OPQS would do better.

  7. OK a sprint stage is not a good all day watch, but the finishes are often exciting and with 3 teams this year with very realistically prospects of winning a flat stage and teams with the intent of doing so there is definitely action towards the end. We have seen that there is not really space for 3 trains and that’s discounting Orica-Green Edge and that aspect of 3 trains has to me added a dimension missing when it was just HTC from 10k out.

    A mountain top finish often seems to be a war of attrition with a trail of riders on the mountain and a known finishing order from 15 minutes out. Obviously there are exceptions, but race to the bottom and try and last to the top is something of a formula as is catch the break late and race it out for a sprint.

    There seems to be too many teams this year that we have seen nothing from yet.

    • Should have added that there is something delightfully incongruous seeing Euskatel steaming up the outside to drop Lobato off for the sprint finish.

      • The work of “isolé” sprinters is actually quite fun. Why couldn’t Lobato or Gavazzi just try to sit on Greipel’s or Cav’s wheel for the last 5km, free-riding someone else’s train. It’s doubtful that these 2nd rate sprinters can overtake the best ones, but surely they can be 2nd or 3rd on a good day, and even win if someone makes a mistake. Well, I suppone that’s what they are trying to do, but it’s easier said than done.

  8. I wonder if Cav is actually worse off at OPQS than Sky…

    At Sky he knew he was left to fight the sprints to himself, and would therefore follow where he thought best. At OPQS they have tried to produce a sprint train and he has stuck with them. I think he may have had a better luck at his sprinting if he ignored his own train and looked after himself instead.

    • Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I did always suspect Sky would be a short-term deal aimed at helping him win the Olympics. He’s gradually reconstructing his HTC setup – back on a Specialized bike, Renshaw arriving at OPQS next year…

  9. Cagey ride by Saxo, QS, and Belkin. It’s only a minute in the GC, but lots of riders were caught snoozing. I wonder if Saxo and Belkin told Sagan and Cavendish to grab on to their move. Having those sprinters in there meant there were two fewer teams trying to mount a chase.

    • and Ten Dam said afterward that Benatti had tipped him off, and that because to that point Saxo had done nothing, so he was extra alert, and glad that he and Mollema were sitting 1-2 in Saxo wheels when the move went.

      Cav said something to the effect of ‘Kwiatkowski was riding; I saw them go and said ‘move left!’ and sprinted full…it’s like [walking on] breaking ice, you have 5 seconds to make it, and I just made it.’ He said earlier in the race he suggested to Steegmans the possibility of echelons, and Steegmans just went. Of course OPQS and Belkin have the classics and flatland riders ‘om waaiers te trekken’.

      What a spectacle today! Great bike racing!

      • Froome was right behind and said “Cav got a little bit of a sling, and he sprinted, so I knew there was no way I could hold his wheel.”

        Cav was World Champion on the track in the Madison.

  10. Sorry for going off topic, but is the sound file of Brian Holm’s motivational chatter still on the site?Having decided that he’s pro cycling’s coolest of the cool I’d like to listen to it again, but I’ve tried searching for it and drawn a blank.

    Anyway the coverage is great, keep up the good work.

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