Cavendish wins stage 13 of the Tour de France

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) pulled back more than a minute on Chris Froome (Team Sky) during stage 13 of the Tour de France after crosswinds and echelons transformed a transfer stage into a battleground on the road to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) beat Peter Sagan (Cannondale) to win his 25th Tour de France stage after a master class of aggressive racing in the wind but his superb performance was matched by that of Saxo-Tinkoff who cracked Team Sky and Froome in the finale of the stage.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was distanced and lost second place overall after puncturing mid-stage, then Saxo-Tinkoff split the front group again with 30km to go, distancing Froome. Team Sky did not have the riders to close the gap and Froome finished more than a minute behind Contador and Mollema. A flat stage had done as much damage as a mountain finish.

Froome's overall lead fell to 2:28 ahead of Mollema. Contador is now third overall at 2:45.

Cavendish celebrates Tour win number 25

Cavendish slapped his sides as he beat Sagan and crossed the finish line, seemingly proud to indicate the name of his team, who had ridden so well to help him win.

"We talked about it a bit before the stage, we knew the wind was strong but we didn't know it was strong enough to break it. Then Gert (Steegmans) goes and kicked it off. We kept going and then Saxo went later. I'm so happy. The guys rode out of their skin today. It's incredible to be able to win that."

"I nearly missed the final split. Kwiatkowski got me half way across and then I shouted to him to move left. I sprinted and just managed to get in the echelon. When echelons form it’s similar to falling through ice... you've got five seconds to save yourself or it's all over. I sprinted across the gap, then we were gone. We're a Belgian team and we're used to racing in crosswinds. I knew I'd be able to get it if I stayed behind Sagan in the sprint and I did."

How it happened

The stage was expected to be another quiet day for most of the peloton, with the overall contenders saving their legs for Sunday's finish at Mont Ventoux and the sprinters determined to control the racing and then fight for the win.

An early break of six riders formed almost at kilometre zero, with Yohann Gene (Team Europcar), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskaltel), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun) opening a four-minute lead.

They looked set to be off the front for much of the day but instead the race took a twist just before 100km mark. The hot canicule crosswinds of central France suddenly created waves in the cornfields and sparked echelons in the peloton.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step was the first to hit the front and work hard to force the split. Suddenly the race had come alive and other teams joined in, especially when the sprint teams up front realised that Kittel was not there.

The hard work of the front group meant the break was quickly caught and then the stage took another twist when Valverde punctured with 86km to go.

The Spaniard did not panic but perhaps underestimated the gravity of the situation and the risk he faced. He took a rear wheel from a teammate and got going again. However he lost 30 seconds and suddenly realised that with the front group riding hard and the side winds still blowing, he would have to fight to get back on.

Three teammates helped him chase and another dropped back from the front group but they did not have the speed to get back on. Belkin knew they had a chance to move up Mollema in the overall classification and so began to work even harder. It was a key moment in the stage but would not prove to be the biggest.

Valverde eventually drifted backwards and was caught by the Kittel group. Their teams led the chase, but they lost more and more time. Kittel lost out on the chance of another stage win, Valverde lost any hope of a good overall result. He finished 9:54 behind Cavendish and slipped to 16th overall.

Saxo-Tinkoff's audacious attack

With 31km to go, the tension seemed to ease upfront. Then suddenly the race exploded yet again thanks to the side winds. It was the most audacious attack of the day. Saxo-Tinkoff had been vigilant all day and suddenly hit the front hard causing yet another split. Contador was there and so too was Mollema but Froome was not with them and failed to get on the back of the echelon. He could only watch them surge away, while his teammates quickly tried to start a chase.

Cavendish and Sagan were in the front echelon of 14 riders, with several teammates and they also joined in the work. Greipel had missed it. The race for the stage and for the overall GC was on.

For 10 kilometres, Team Sky and other chasers managed to hold the gap to a handful of seconds but then suddenly the elastic snapped. Richie Porte had already been dropped from the front peloton and there were only three Team Sky riders to help Froome.

Up front, the Saxo-Tinkoff riders suddenly began to give absolutely everything, riding a team time trial to gain as much time as they could. Even Contador did some turns on the front. Behind Lotto Belisol tried to chase down the echelon, but the gap reached a minute.

In the final kilometre, the 14 riders in the echelon began to think about the stage win. Niki Terpstra tried a solo move for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, forcing Maciej Bodnar to chase him down instead of leading out Sagan.

Cavendish sat on the Slovakian's wheel and then jumped away in sight of the line to take his 25th Tour de France win. Sagan was second, with Mollema third.

Froome finished 1:09 behind and struggled to smile as he pulled on the yellow jersey. He has realised he will have to fight all the way to Paris if he wants to win the 100th edition of the Tour de France.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step3:40:08
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
4Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
5Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
7Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
8Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
9Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:00:06
10Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:09
11Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:11
12Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:17
13Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:19
14Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:53
15André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol0:01:09
16Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
17William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ.fr
18Anthony Delaplace (Fra) Sojasun
19Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp
20John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
21Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
22Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
23Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
24Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
25Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
26Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling
27Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
28Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
29Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
30Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp
31Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
32Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
33Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team
34Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha
35Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
36Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
37Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp
38Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
39Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
40Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
41Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
42Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Katusha
43Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr
44Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol
45Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
46Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
47Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
48Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
49Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team
50Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
51Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol
52Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
53Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
54Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
55Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
56Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
57Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
58Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:01:37
59Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling0:01:54
60Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha0:02:14
61Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha0:02:15
62Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:02:34
63Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling0:02:39
64Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:02:43
65Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:03:32
66Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling0:04:30
67Tom Veelers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano0:05:29
68Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol
69Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team0:09:54
70Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team
71Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
72Maxime Mederel (Fra) Sojasun
73Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard
74David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
75Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr
76Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
77Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha
78Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
79Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
80Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
81Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
82Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard
83Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team
84Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
85Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
86Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling
87Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
88Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
89Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
90Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
91Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun
92Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Sojasun
93Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
94Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Sojasun
95Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol
96Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
97Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar
98Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
99Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling
100Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
101Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
102Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
103Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
104Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
105Julien El Fares (Fra) Sojasun
106Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
107Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
108Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp
109David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling
110Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
111Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
112Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
113Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
114Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Lampre-Merida
115Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
116Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar
117Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar
118Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
119Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
120Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:10:05
121Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:10:07
122Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
123Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
124Marcel Kittel (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
125Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
126Brett Lancaster (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
127Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:10:11
128Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
129Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha
130Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr
131David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
132Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
133Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
134Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
135John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
136Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
137Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
138Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
139Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
140Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
141Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
142Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr
143Jean-Marc Marino (Fra) Sojasun
144Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
145Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha
146Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
147Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
148Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ.fr0:10:19
149Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
150Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
151Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun
152Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar
153Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar