Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 102nd Tour de France. Stage 13 sees the riders travel 198.5km from Muret to Rodez with racing getting underway at 12:20 local time.
Good morning everyone. We are now done with the Pyrenees in this year's Tour de France. Next destination? The Alps. However, we've got to get there first and the journey starts here with the first of four transitional stages. We're heading across the Massif Central from Muret to Rodez in what will provide some respite after three tough days in the mountains.
The stage starts off in gentle fashion with relatively flat terrain for the first half of the race. There are some hills in the second portion, though - a category 3 climb followed by two category 4's. It looks tailor-made for a breakaway and will take a big effort for the sprinters' teams to spoil to party.
While the riders sign on, catch up with yesterday's action with our stage 12 report.
A reminder of how the general classification is shaping up after yesterday.
1 Christopher Froome (Sky) 46:50:32
2 Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) 0:02:52
3 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 0:03:09
4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 0:03:58
5 Geraint Thomas (Sky) 0:04:03
6 Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) 0:04:04
7 Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) 0:05:32
8 Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) 0:07:32
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 0:07:47
10 Bauke Mollema (Trek) 0:08:02
The latest episode of the Cyclingnews Tour de France podcast is well worth a listen. Special guest David Walsh of the Sunday Times forms part of an interesting discussion on the current innuendo and scrutiny surrounding race leader Chris Froome. You can listen using the link below or subscribe on iTunes here.
The Tour de France podcast: episode 14
The neutral start has been given and the riders are currently rolling towards kilometre zero. Racing proper should commence in about 15 minutes.
Chris Froome is riding a personalised bike today. It's in support of a wildlife charity, I believe, rather than suggesting he has rhino-like qualities.
Vincenzo 'the shark' Nibali... Joaquim 'purito' Rodríguez. We don't need any more nicknames in professional cycling. This isn't wrestling.
There's 'the rhino' rolling through the neutral zone. On his right is the man who probably stands the best chance of loosening his grip on the yellow jersey - it's Nairo Quintana in the white of best young rider.
This is how the weather is looking across today's stage. Another scorcher, basically.
There'll be plenty of interest in getting in the breakaway today, though perhaps none will be keener than Rodez native Alexandre Geniez. He lives in La Primaube, just 10 kilometres from finishing line today.
“Of course, this my stage and I want to do well," he told letour.com. "The terrain suits breakaway riders. I'll try to be part of it. It won't be easy though. The Pyrenees are behind us and we'll have transition stages in which all the teams are concerned. We'll draw conclusions at the finish. I hope they'll be good!”
And they're off! The flag has been waved and racing has begun. We can expect some early attacks.
There is an immediate move involving four riders. Two others are trying to make it across. We'll get the identities of those riders for you shortly.
True to his word, Geniez made it into that move. He has Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), and Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) for company.
195km remaining from 198km
After 3km it looks like this break is sticking at the first time of asking. The quartet have a lead of a minute. The peloton is happy but Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Bretagne-Séché Environnement) aren't - they're in between frantically trying to get across.
No surprise to see more breakaway hopefuls try to join the fun. Two more chasers between the four leaders and the bunch: Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar) have also gone of the front of the bunch in pursuit.
No surprise to see more breakaway hopefuls try to join the fun. Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar) have also gone of the front of the bunch in pursuit.
Haas and Périchon have made the bridge and there are now six riders out front with a lead approaching two and a half minutes.
Giant-Alpecin come to the front of the bunch to try and control things. There's an intermediate sprint in Laboutarie after 92.5km, remember. The gap is down to 1:30, with the two chasers just 20 seconds in front of the peloton.
Grivko and Quémeneur's pursuit proves to be futile.
181km remaining from 198km
The pace has been knocked back slightly in the bunch and the gap stands at 2:30. Will they control this until the intermediate sprint or let the escapees off the leash?
@friebos Fri, 17th Jul 2015 10:21:09
The break's lead goes out to four minutes over the the peloton and Chris Froome. Speaking of whom, the race leader hit back yesterday at those doubting his performances and credibility. Cyclingnews' Stephen Farrand has the story:
Perrig Quémeneur, who tried and failed to get into the break today, was looking to maintain his lead in the attackers' classification published in L'Equipe.
He's already covered 433 kilometres out front so far but it doesn't look like he'll be adding to that today.
"It would be good if it was today because I want to stay in the lead of this classification and moreover race for the stage win today," he told letour.com ahead of the stage. "I get to know this morning that the only stage finish in Rodez (in 1984) was won by a rider from my province (Finistère, in Brittany) so I'd love to maintain that invincibility. But it's a pretty hard stage. Attackers are motivated but also the sprinters who haven't won yet, the punchy climbers, etc.”
163km remaining from 198km
After 35 kilometres the gap is staying steady at 4:20. Giant are still on the front, not allowing this to get out of hand.
Cyclingnews Editor-in-chief Daniel Benson has just written this story on Chris Froome's intention to undergo independent physiological testing. Froome wants to prove he's clean, but experts tell us it won't be that straightforward.
The six breakaway riders have covered 41.5km in the first hour of racing. The gap back to the bunch has ducked back under four minutes and is now at 3:50.
One thing's for sure, Katusha won't be doing much work on the front today. Alexander Kristoff would like to open his Tour de France account for this year but is putting all his eggs in Sunday's basket, which is more likely to end in a bunch kick.
"I feel good today, we have a few days now before the alps so I hope that maybe I feel good today but maybe it’s a day for the break. On Sunday we’ll try and win the stage," he told Cyclingnews.
"Today ill try to save energy but if it comes together ill try to take the stage, I will not chase to bring it back together, we will save our strength to make it a sprint on Sunday."
148km remaining from 198km
50km covered and the gap is steady at 3:50.
There are four of our breakaway riders, backed by the quintessential sunflowers of the Tour.
Among the many stories that have been thrown up during the Tour so far, the fallout at Astana has been one of the more intriguing. General manager Alexander Vinokourov is not happy with Vincenzo Nibali's performance but things seem to have been blown a little out of proportion. We have two stories, which you can read using the links below.
If you want to get involved in all the many debates that are happening at the Tour at the moment, why not head over to our stage 13 forum.
Stats & Facts
This will be the second time that Rodez has hosted a Tour de France stage. The first and only other time was in 1984, when Pierre-Henri Menthéour won.
We're into the Tarn department of France now and the leaders have just over 3:30. The peloton are on a long straight road and it's pretty much single file. Giant-Alpecin are still on the front.
Don't forget to have a listen to the latest instalment of the Cyclingnews Tour de France podcast, sponsored by British Eurosport. Our reporters in France are joined by the Sunday Times' David Walsh to discuss the burning issues, notably Chris Froome and doping innuendo. Subscribe here or listen using the link below.
On another hot day hydration will be key. That means lots of work for the domestiques.
123km remaining from 198km
3:45 is the current gap for the six breakaway riders. In 15 kilometres' time we'll be winding up for the intermediate sprint.
Robert Millar's view of today's stage
"Out of the Pyrenean frying-pan and into the Tarn fire. We basically did the same route back in 84 and my overriding memory of that day was of legs hurting and my feet burning. It's warm in the mountains but at least you cool down on the descents. Going inland from Toulouse it just gets hot, then hotter and as Rodez approaches stiflingly uncomfortable. Perfect stage for a breakaway and until one gets away no-one will be happy, though with the last 60km being of the up and down, in and out, melted tar variety it's hard to say if it's better to be in the front or hiding at the back.”
115km remaining from 198km
Giant still have all their men on the front of the strung-out bunch. They're not going to bring things back together for the intermediate sprint but their intentions to set the stage finish up for John Degenkolb couldn't be clearer.
Alberto Contador can be seen with jersey stuffed with bidons. He hasn't taken on domestique duties, though. He punctured and used the mishap to stock up on fluids. The Spaniard is safely back in the bunch.
As we approach the intermediate sprint, here's a look at how the points classification currently stands.
1 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) 254 pts
2 André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) 252
3 John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) 201
4 Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) 185
5 Bryan Coquard (Europcar) 117
The breakaway riders wind up for the sprint and it's De Gendt who takes maximum points. Périchon went close but it was only those two who showed any interest.
Here we go then, time for the real sprinters.
Giant string out on the right, Lotto on the left. Cavendish, Greipel, and Sagan watch each other.
Greipel comes through on the left and takes it, Degenkolb was second while Cavendish never managed to build up much speed and took third.
That result means that André Greipel is the virtual green jersey out there. That may all change again at the finish, though, which is better suited to Sagan.
This is how the standings look after that intermediate sprint.
1 Andre Greipel 261
2 Peter Sagan 260
3 John Degenkolb 209
4 Mark Cavendish 192
5 Bryan Coquard 117
The rule changes have definitely made this green jersey competition much more interesting than it has been in recent years. Peter Sagan has really dominated the contest but, with his two stage wins, André Greipel is putting up a big fight. Let's hope it goes all the way to Paris.
90km remaining from 198km
With 90km to go the escapees have 4:03 on the Giant-Alpecin led peloton and they're about to hit the lumpiest part of the stage.
There are three classified climbs today, two thirds and a fourth category. There is a very steep ramp at the finish too. It's going to be tough for the pure sprinters to make it through today but perhaps the likes of John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff can take their first stage win of this year's Tour.
@petercossins Fri, 17th Jul 2015 13:26:39
Chris Froome is on a new bike today after his Pinarello Dogma F8 got a yellow-themed look. Take a look at what the race leader is riding today.
After getting a bit of respite from the heat yesterday when the rain came, it's another hot day on the Tour de France and the riders keep going back to the cars to get some ice to shove down their jerseys.
A mechanical problem for Cyril Gautier and he's been forced to chase back onto the escape group. He's getting a little bit of help from the cars to make it back through.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 17th Jul 2015 13:39:19
Gautier is finally back with the breakaway group. The effort was hot work and he's dumped the contents of one of his bidons on his head.
Have you been listening to our Tour de France podcast? Listen to the latest edition here with our special guest David Walsh as we discuss the Froome and Team Sky.
69km remaining from 198km
It's still Giant-Alpecin doing most of the work at the front. Matteo Tosatto is lending a helping hand for Tinkoff-Saxo. The gap has come down to 3:50 under the increased pace.
The breakaway is heading up the first categorized climb of the day, the Côte de Saint-Cirgue, a cateogry 3 ascent that's 3.8km long and averages 5.8%
They didn't contest the top, and De Gendt took the points ahead of Kelderman. It's too hot to sprint - they took a moment after the top to dump water on their heads.
This stage is a constant battle to keep hydrated and cool - it's 34C/94F by the weather station, but on the black tarmac it feels much hotter.
The Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Alpecin teams lead the peloton over the top of the climb, as world champion Michal Kwiatkowski drops back to the team car.
The Midi-Pyrénées look a bit like California, with rolling hills covered in dry, brown grasses and spotted with clumps of green trees.
@DavidWalshST Fri, 17th Jul 2015 13:59:29
60km remaining from 198km
Crash for Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R) - he touched wheels mid-peloton and was the only one to go down, but it was a nasty one. He's ripped his shorts, and has a bloody hip and arm. He's back and riding but that hurt.
58km remaining from 198km
Peraud is back at the medical car getting some attention for his wounds, but the road rash is fairly massive.
Now Nibali has a puncture! His wheel change is pretty slow, and he's got the second half of the split peloton to jump into to chase back on.
The presence of Nibali and now a pair of Astana riders drilling it on the front will be a relief for the riders caught out in that split.
They've still got 12km before the next climb, the Côte de la Pomparie.
25 seconds is the gap between the split pelotons.
Péraud was pretty brave to get quickly back on his bike and go.
The peloton is back as one again. The break are 3:30 ahead still as we approach the final 50 kilometres.
Péraud is back at the medical car receiving treatment. He's grimacing but it looks like he'll continue for now - he's nearly two minutes back.
AG2R directeur sportif Julien Jurdie has just spoken live to France Televisions and has said that Péraud reassured them and that nothing was broken. "But it'll be difficult for him to complete the stage if he rides alone at the back", warned Jurdie.
Extremely sticky bottle for Péraud - he could barely let go of that one.
The road is about to go uphill again for the breakaway riders. The Côte de la Pomparie is a fourth-category climb, 2.8km long with an average gradient of 5%.
Picture from the tweet below - support for Geniez in his home region.
The peloton are climbing as well now and those at the back are either pouring the contents of their bidons all over themselves or waving their arms in the air for fresh ones.
@letourdata Fri, 17th Jul 2015 14:32:36
A heavily bandaged Péraud is back in the bunch.
The six breakaway men are now on the final climb of the day - the fourth-cat Côte de la Selve. It's 3.9km long and has an average gradient of 3.7%.
Louis Meintjes caught the eye yesterday. The 23-year-old was in the day's main break and after a crash fought it out on the Plateau de Beille for fifth place. Cyclingnews' Stephen Farrand has this story:
André Greipel has been dropped from the bunch on this climb. Music to Sagan's ears.
Right, that's all the climbing done for today. Attention now switches to the finish. Orica-GreenEdge have hit the front for the first time today. The gap is falling now to 1:30.
Nathan Haas wasn't too comfortable with that falling gap and has just struck out on his own. He caught the other escapees off guard, attacking from behind. He's opened up a gap already.
Haas is going downhill at the moment and is giving it everything. He's tucked down, sat on his top tube but still pedalling furiously.
Haas has 10 seconds on the chasers. he has 1:44 on the peloton which is led by Tinkoff-Saxo, eager to make sure Greipel doesn't get back on.
With just over 17km to go now the road will start rising again - it's not a categorised climb but it's uphill nonetheless.
@mrconde Fri, 17th Jul 2015 15:03:54
The game is up for Haas as his former breakaway companions step on it and reel him in. 1:30 the gap now.
So, I think it's time for some predictions. Will the break make it? If not, who's going to win the sprint? Let me know on Twitter via @paddyfletch.
@tweetingashley Fri, 17th Jul 2015 14:15:10
14km remaining from 198km
The gap starts to tumble towards a minute and the breakaway start to worry. They're on the uphill section and Kellerman has kicked on, dragging Gautier with him.
Three shouts for Sagan already from @IFGreg, @clapp_will and @john_chilmark. Hard to argue.
12km remaining from 198km
De Gendt has joined Kelderman and Gautier. Their lead hovers above a minute.
There's not just a nasty ramp up to the finish. There's also a full-on S-bend at 500 metres.
9km remaining from 198km
Under 40 seconds and ever falling now for the leading trio.
Haas has paid for his earlier efforts and has been swallowed by the peloton.
@friebos Fri, 17th Jul 2015 15:13:45
It's Giant, Orica, MTN in the peloton with Froome fourth wheel. They're just over half a minute back. They should do it but the escapees are making a good go of it.
De Gendt picks up the combativity award for the day. He'll want more than that, though. A stage win is still within reach.
@mrconde Fri, 17th Jul 2015 15:22:18
4km remaining from 198km
Last 4km for the leading trio and they're heading downhill, which will aid their cause. Just 20 seconds now though.
It's fast and furious now as the bunch strings out on the downhill stretch. Things are so strung out in fact that the peloton is starting to split.
Steve Cummings does a big turn on the front. Cavendish, Kristoff, Bassoon Hagen, Sagan, Matthews, all in the mix.
The road rises now and the trio are still in front.
De Gendt gets out of the saddle but can't hold it. Kelderman goes!
Catch! All together!
Van Avermaet goes! Sagan follows!
Van Avermaet takes it! Sagan second
Sagan was in perfect position on Van Avemmaet's wheel but just ran out of gas and pulled up just shy of the line.
Jan Bakelants came home in third but well behind. Degenkolb was fourth.
Froome was sixth and Nibali seventh - that was a tough climb to the line.
What a finish that was! Always so exciting when it's touch and go for the break. It couldn't have been closer this time - chapeau to the escapees who spent all day out front in the Massif Central furnace, but in the end, heartbreak.
Stage 13 top 10
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 04:43:42
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
3 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:03
4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:00:07
5 Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
6 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
8 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
That's Sagan's eighth (yes eighth!) top-4 finish in this race. He is completely and utterly the nearly-man of the Tour de France.
@ju_drem Fri, 17th Jul 2015 15:35:36
General Classification after stage 13
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 51:34:21
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:02:52
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:03:09
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:58
5 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:04:03
6 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:04:04
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:05:32
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 00:07:32
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:07:47
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 00:08:01
@EdwardPickering Fri, 17th Jul 2015 15:40:05
Greg Van Avermaet's post-stage reaction
“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.”
If it's any consolation for Sagan, he extends his lead in the green jersey standings, having virtually lost it to André Greipel at the intermediate sprint.
Points Classification after stage 13
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) 285
André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) 261
John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) 228
Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) 192
Bryan Coquard (Europcar) 120
We've already got a full stage report report with lots of photos:
Peter Sagan's post-stage reaction
"It’s not bad luck. It was my 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."
It's been a fantastic Tour de France so far for BMC, who have often faced criticism for underperforming relative to their big budget. A stage win for Rohan Dennis, a spell in the yellow jersey, a team time trial victory, and now this. Oh, and there's the small matter of Tejay van Garderen gatecrashing the 'fab four' and sitting a very promising 2nd on GC.
There was encouragement for Orica-GreenEdge as Michael Matthews was back in the mix again today. The Australian has been hampered ever since breaking ribs in the mass crash on stage 3 but finished 18th today.
"Unfortunately in the final I knew that in my head that 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."
@letour Fri, 17th Jul 2015 16:11:27
No one ever remembers the breakaway. The post-stage narrative will focus on Van Avermaet and Sagan but the escapees spent the whole day out in front in 35-degree heat, and came oh so close.
One of those riders was Thomas De Gendt, and here's what he had to say:
"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 even sprint but 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."
@letour Fri, 17th Jul 2015 16:18:15
John Degenkolb, who finished fourth, after the stage, showing just how tough the day had been.
MTN-Qhubeka worked hard in the bunch in the closing stages, but when it got to the uphill sprint Edvald Boasson Hagen just didn't have the legs. Here's what he had to say:
"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."
That brings our live coverage of stage 13 to a close. A transition stage maybe, but it was a nail biter at the end. We have a full stage report and gallery along with a quotes story with reaction from the main protagonists. We'll also have lots of news stories coming in over the next couple of hours, not to mention a new episode of the podcast, so make sure you keep an eye on cyclingnews.com.
We'll be back tomorrow morning for live coverage of stage 14. Another day in the Massif Central, but there's a serious sting in the tail in the form of a steep finishing climb at Mende. Thanks for joining today, and à demain!
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