Stage 13 of the Tour de France saw the race leave the Pyrenees and move a step closer to the Alps with an intermediate stage to Rodez. With an early break still clear and with less than a few hundred meters to go, the finale provided a tense and exhilarating one with Greg Van Avermaet coming out on top ahead of disconsolate Peter Sagan.
However, the Tinkoff Saxo rider was at least able to pull on the green jersey after securing enough points to take the lead in the competition ahead of his main rival Andre Greipel. There as little consolation for the remnants of the break, caught agonisingly close to the finish.
“It was really close. I went really early because in Le Havre I waited too long I think. I tried to go almost from the bottom. It was really long and the last 100 metres kept going forever. I saw that there was somebody in my wheel so I just kept on sprinting and hoped that they wouldn’t come over.
“I have a very good team and to win the stage is very good. We’ve been doing well so far in this Tour and I think that this victory is a reflection of that performance.”
"It’s not bad luck. It was mistake because I was waiting for too long. I was pushing out of the saddle and then I came to his (Van Avermaet’s) wheel and I sat down. That was my mistake because I needed to carry on pushing so that I could win. But it was my mistake and I’m pissed now."
"Unfortunately in the final I knew that, in my head, I could go with Van Avermaet when he went but my body just didn’t let me go. I know that I can push myself like I’ve done on the Cauberg in Amstel. It’s a similar sort of finish to the one here but it’s a bit hard when you want to do it but your ribs and your lungs just don’t let you push as hard as you can.
"I’m recovering. From getting dropped every single day until now I’ve been with the best guys in the best race in the world at the Tour de France. It’s a massive improvement since my fall and I have to give a massive thanks to my team. For being able to put me in this position to win today. From the small things like bringing me water to the staff getting my back almost to 100 percent. The team have been behind me right through the race in trying to keep me going.
"I guess that I now need to sit down with team tonight and find out what my next goals are after today. Today was one of my big goals before the Tour started, and before I fractured my ribs. Now have to sit down with Matt White and the directors and see what the next goals are."
"I thought we might make it until the final 15km but then I saw them coming with a few hundred meters and I knew it was hard. It wasn’t a big group chasing but I couldn’t event sprint. I wanted to at least be third but then they just came past me. I tried my best but again it’s just 300 meters.
"We knew that it was quite steep in the last 500 meters but the last few days were very hard so you can really feel it in the legs. We had a plan in the break, to try and work together and try and work until the finish and we almost succeeded."
Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
"It has turned out to be another extremely hot day. Our goal is to try to get through these stages and try to recover a little before we reach the Alps, although we are aware that no day is easy and there could be a battle tomorrow. The team will work to avoid any problems, and if necessary, Alejandro will surely help me to disrupt the team of Froome once we enter the last week. But there is still much before that."
"It was a really hot day but our team was working really well, especially in the end. After always keeping me in the front, Steve and Daniel helped to chase down the break. When it came to the last climb my legs were empty. It was too warm and the lactic acid was too much so I couldn't do anything on the climb which was a pity, but the team was excellent."