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Tour de France 2013: Stage 13

Another sprint stage -- and another win for Kittel? Or will one of the others beat him to the line today?

173 flattish kilometers today, from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond, with another mass sprint finish expected. Will Kittel take another one?

We know of at least one rider who won't be at the start today. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) suffered a fractured shoulder blade in that late-kilometer crash yesterday. The team says he is flying home to Norway today.

We have a long neutral zone, 14.km. The peloton is rolling along now and the sharp start is scheduled for 1:25, so in about 18 minutes.

Lotto-Belisol had three riders down in the big crash yesterday, but says that Marcel Sieberg, Greg Henderson and Jurgen Roelandts would all be at the start today.

Our preview of today's stage can be found here. Or if you prefer only to watch the video, click here.

There is only one ranked climb today, the category 2 Cote du Crotz at km 77.5 It is only a 1.2km long climb with a 4% gradient, so no great barrier. However, there is also an unranked climb with just under 10km to go, which could play a role. It is not likely enough to stop the sprinters, but could well serve as a springboard for a successful last-minute attack.

The weather today: sunny, light wind, mid-to-high 20's C

And they'e off! What, no attacks yet?

This is turning into quite the German race, isn't it. German riders have won five of the 11 individual stages, which is a darned good percentage.  That is three for Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), and one each for Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) and Tony Martin (OPQS).

Actually, we don't yet have official word as to whether the sharp start has taken place yet or not.

The start was five minutes late, and a group has already formed: Gene (Europcar), Perez (Euskaltel), Mate (Cofidis), Niemiec (Lampre Merida), Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) und Lemoine (Sojasun).

After 5 km, the six have a one-minute lead.

This is the second Tour at which German rides have won five stages. The other time was in 1997, when Jan Ullrich won two and Erik Zabel three, both with Team Telekom. Ullrich also won not only the overall title, but was also the best young rider, and Zabel took the green jersey, one of six times he took that ranking.

Our Top Ten overall coming into today's stage:

1     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     47:19:13      
2     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     0:03:25      
3     Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team     0:03:37      
4     Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff     0:03:54      
5     Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff     0:03:57      
6     Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team     0:04:10      
7     Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step     0:04:44      
8     Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team     0:05:18      
9     Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team     0:05:37      
10     Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale     0:05:39      

 

163km remaining from 173km

The gap is now at 1:45. Will they really get away or be reeled back in?

 

The gap has crept up to 2:05. The sprinter teams are at the head of the field, we assume they don't want the gap to get as back as yesterday.

Not much happening in the mountains at the moment, so Pierre Rolland easily holds on to his polka-dots.

     Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar     49      pts
2     Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     33      
3     Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling     28      
4     Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team     26      
5     Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi     21      
6     Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team     20      
7     Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge     15      
8     Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team     14      
9     Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky Procycling     14      
10     Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp     13      
 

It looks as if the field isn't willing to let this group get too far away. 30 km in and the gap is still only 2:39.

It is a two-man race for best young rider honours, with Michal Kwiatkowski (OPQS) currently in the lead.

         Result
1     Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step     47:23:57      
2     Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team     0:00:34      
3     Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale     0:06:53      
4     Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp     0:08:27      
5     Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr     0:31:43      
6     Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team     0:33:24      
7     Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Sojasun     0:35:27      
8     Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr     0:39:41      
9     Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard     0:41:02      
10     Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano     0:41:28

135km remaining from 173km

The gap is now creeping up again, to 3:21.

Contador punctures and gets a new rear wheel.

10     Sky Procycling     0:44:00

Cavendish is now riding with one shoe and the other foot only in a sock. He is hanging on to the team car as he waits for some repair to tbe made to the right shoe.

And Cav is now shod again.

Marcus Burghardt of BMC Racing Team has a prediction for this stage, which he posted last night: “i think tomorrow gonna be almost the same like today maybe with an other german winner.” 

Tony Martin (OPQS) would of course have liked to see teammate Mark Cavendish win yesterday. “But it he or someone else from my team doesn't win, then for me the best alternative is when a German and especially a friend like Marcel wins. We are happy for each other's wins.”

114km remaining from 173km

The gap is holding steady around the 3:45 mark. The field doesn't seem to want them to break the 4:00 barrier.

Looks like the wind is a bit stronger than we had assumed. The field has split into three groups and we have echelons.

OPQS is pushing the speed at the head of the first chase group,no doubt hoping to permanently drop some of those who have fallen back. This means too that the gap has dropped to2:34.

Froome is in the first group, as are the other top favourites, and it looks like the top sprinters as well.

There are a number of groups, the first one at 2:15, the next about 30 seconds behind them, and another at 3:15 which includes Thomas Voeckler.

We also hear that Kitel is in one of the further back groups.

Kittel is in the second chase group, which is getting closer and closer.

100km remaining from 173km

1:14 for the first group, 1:45 for the Kittel group. They are having trouble catching up.

The  front group is about to sweep up the breakaway. But will they then press on for close to 100km to stop Kittel contesting the sprint?

What seemed like a very quiet stage is now full on intrigue and hard racing.

Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) is in the front group and he jumped off the front to take the single point at the only cat 4 climb of the stage. The Frenchman still leads the climber's competition with 50 points and is dressed from head to toe in red polka-dots.

Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) is in th front group but is staying well protected at the back. Up front it is OPQS and Saxo-Tinkoff that are leading the dance to force the group to stay away.

Kittel's group is now at 1:00.

Kittel does not seem to be panicking but his group will have to work hard to catch the front group. 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step is working hard to distance Kittel but will they have the speed for the finish?

The front group is in the feed zone and quickly grabs the musettes and keeps going hard.

Valverde has stopped for a wheel change. He gets a wheel from a teammate because the Movistar team car is behind. However he does have three teammates to help him.

Will the front group up the speed to make Valverde suffer?

Erviti, Plaza and Castroviejo are working for Valverde but they are 40 seconds behind. Another teammate has dropped back to help them but they are giving it 100% to get back on.

The roads are straight and exposed, making it difficult for Movistar.

OPQS and Belkin are driving hard on the front, riding hard on an exposed section of road. Movistar can see the neutral service car ahead of them but the riders are struggling to close the gap.

Valverde is 15 seconds back but his teammates seem tired.

Another rider is dropping back to help them, it is Rui Costa. Can he make the difference? Now only Nairo Quintana is in the front group.

Belkin is driving hard on the front. They could gain time for Mollema and ten Dam in the GC.

The Valverde group is 30 seconds behind. He's going backwards.

Tony Martin is doing turns on the front, using his time trial power to drag the group along.

The Kittel group is closing the gap but is still close to a minute.

Valverde made a huge mistake by not taking a teammate's bike. He could have quickly got back up to the group but wasted time by changing his rear wheel. 

The Valverde chase group has been absorbed by the Kittel chase group.

Movistar and Argos-Shimano are now working to try and clsoe the gap but up front OPQS and Belkin are still driving the front group along.

70km remaining from 173km

There is now 70km to go.

Susan back, Steve jumped in for half an hour or so for me.

I think we can safely assume that neither Kittel nor Valverde is pleased with the way tihngs are going.

There is now 1:20 between the first two groups. The team cars are now driving up to the first group, and Movistar gives them an irritated look as they pull past.

65km remaining from 173km

The day's intermediate sprint is appraoching.

Quintana is in the first group, as literally the only Movistar rider who didn't have to fall back to help Valverde.

OPQS and Cannondale at the head of the field as the sprint approaches.

For several seasons now, the word has been that Mark Cavendish is simply the fastest man out there. No more, it seems. In fact, even the OPQS rider admits that Kittel is faster than him at the moment. 

60km remaining from 173km

Cannondale starts the sprint, with Cavendish Sagan and Greipel behind him. Once again, Greipel wins, ahead of Cav and Sagan.

1:40 now for the Valverde/Kittel group.

Belkin is doing by far the most of the lead work, some 60 percent. They obviously have the most to gain, as Mollema was third overall behind Valverde, and ten Dam is also in the top ten.

Has Cavendish become slower, or has Kittel become faster? Are the Manxman's days as top sprinter done? An interesting discussion here.

Pierre Rolland punctures. Meanwhile the chase group has turned up the speed and is only 48 seconds back.

Valverde and a handful of others have taken off from the second group in chase.

52km remaining from 173km

Our gaps are now: lead group; Valverde group at 0:51; Kittel group at 1:10; and Voeckler group at 5:00.

Looks like all of the grups are falling apart now, victims of both the high speed and the wind.

Porte is also in one of the later groups.

45km remaining from 173km

The Valverde group is not catching up and is in fact now 1:29 behind.

Steegmans has dropped back out of the first group -- one less helper for Cavendish.

Valverde and Kittel are back in the same group again, at 1:45. In fact they are next to each other and having a short chat.

Valverde has apparently given up all hope of catching up. It will hurt to say good-bye to his second place in GC.

40km remaining from 173km

40 km to go and the gap is 1:55. Not impossible to catch up, but apparently unlikely.

There are two small groups in between the lead group and the Valverde group.

OPQS and Belkin continue to share the lead work.

Tejay van Garderen had a great Tour last year. In 2013 -- not so much. He talked to Cyclingnews about it.

Looks like 40-50 riders in the lead group, which now has over two minutes over the Valverde/Kittel group.

Apparently Flecha is behind the lead group, then a group of 12 or 13 around Porte at 1:40.

33km remaining from 173km

2:43 for Valverde, nearly seven minutes for Voeckler.

Sky must be enjoying this. They don't have to bother with the lead work, and Froome is riding easily in the first group with a couple of teammates.

Contador and Mollema attack out of the lead group!

There are about 15 rides in teh lead and pulling away rapidly.

30km remaining from 173km

Cavendish and Sagan are both in the first group. Froome is not.

Bennati andTepstra leading the first group.

What a clever move by Saxo-Tinkoff. Everyone was getting nice and comfortable with having dropped Valverde, and WHAM!

The Contador group doesn't have a huge lead -- 10 seconds, maybe 100 metres.

Greipel is still in the Froome group.

Thee are five Saxo-Tinkoff riders in the first group, including Contador, Roche, Rogers, and Kreuziger.

The Valverde groups now nearly three and a half minutes back.

Fuglsang is also in the led group, and he and Sagan take turns in the lead.

The lead group consists of: Sagan and Bodnar (Cannondale), Fuglsang, (Astana) Contador, Bennati, Roche, and Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff),
Cavendish, Chavanel, and Terpstra (OPQS) and
Mollema and ten Dam (Belkin).

Even Contador takes a turn in the wind. The gap is up to 12 seconds, with 21.2 km to go.

23 seconds now!

20km to go, and Saxo-Tinkoff setting a furious pace for the lead group.

4:53 for the Valverde-Kittel group. They have given up.

17km remaining from 173km

The group has ground out a 30n second lead now. Will we see a Sagan-Cavendish sprint at the end?

Tosatto is also in the lead group for Saxo-Tinkoff. They now have 43 seconds on the yellow jersey.

6:20 to Valverde and 9:30 to Voeckler.

This group may not win a lot of time on the yellow jersey, but psychologically it has been a great move.

Gilbert is in the Valverde group.

The gap has dropped by a few seconds, now 38.

It will be no great suprise to learn that Saxo-Tinkoff is doing 92 percent of the lead work.

Lotto Belisol sharing the chase work now.

The gap creeps back up by a few seconds. The chasers don't seem to be quite as enthusiastic as they were a bit ago.

10 km now for the Froome group, with the gap now at 45 seconds.

Siutsou has fallen back out of the Froome group. Not good for the yellow jersey.

Siutsou has fallen back out of the Froome group. Not good for the yellow jersey.

That ought to be it. With 7.4km to go, the gap is 54 seconds. The chase group looks like they realize they can't catch them.

The one thing we can pretty much be sure of is that there won't be a German winner today, after three in a row.

Over a minute now, and more than 8 minutes for Valverde, who can bury his Tour dreams now.

AG2R is right up at the front of the chase group.

2.5km for the leaders. Now it is a question of which one of them will take the stage.

Contador has a few quick words over his radio.

Terpstra takes off with 1.3km to go.

Cannondale catches him. We are in the last m, but with a numer of turns.

Chavanel leads the way, followed by Sagan and Cavendish.

Cavendish jumps and takes it!

Sagan had no chance against the British champion.

The Froome group rolls towards the finish line.

Greipel wins the sprint of the chase group which come in about 1:09 down.

Bauke Mollema gave his all in the sprint of the lead group, and takes third place for his efforts.

We for sure have some changes in the GC Top Ten, and will have that for you in a minute.

Lot of riders still out on the road, including Valverde, who will plummet in GC today.

"We saw we had a chance, took and then rode as hard as we could," says Mick Rogers.

There is a big smile on Cavendish's face, which hasn't been there for a while.

The top ten for the stage:

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 3:40:08
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:00
3 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:00
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:00
5 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:00
6 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:00
7 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:00
8 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:00
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:06
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:09
 

And the new overall:


1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 51:00:30
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:28
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:02:45
4 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:02:48
5 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:03:01
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:04:39
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:04:44
8 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:18
9 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:39
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:05:52

This looked to be one of those typical "long break, mass sprint stages" with not much else happening. Ha! Who would have expected it to turn out as it did?

Valverde and his group have now come in, over 9:50 down.

That's it for today. Catch us again tomorrow and we will all see what surprises are in store.

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