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Bonjour and welcome to the Cyclingnews live race centre for stage 13 of the Tour de France. The dust has barely settled after Alpe d'Huez but on we go. Something of a transition stage, this, as the race leaves the Alps and heads in the direction of the Massif Central and later the Pyrenees.
One for the sprinters, maybe, but are there any left?
Bourg d'Oisans, at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, is our start location today
The riders are signing on as we speak ahead of the roll-out at 13.35 local time. Racing proper will be underway 10 minutes after that.
Before we get underway, why not press play on our latest podcast. Daniel Benson is joined by Ed Pickering on Alpe d'Huez to dissect what we've seen in the Alps over the past three days. You can also hear from Geraint Thomas, Tom Dumoulin, and Primoz Roglic. Here's the link you need.
Here is race leader Thomas' bike this morning
Gaviria, Groenewegen, Cavendish, Kittel, Greipel... all gone.
The mountains have ripped into the sprinting field like a bowling ball. (In case you missed it, Gaviria, Groenewegen and Greipel all finished outside the time limit yesterday, and Cavendish and Kittel the day before that). The only ones still standing are Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
It's not a good look for the race organisers, and the flagship Champs Elysées sprint will lack some of its lustre this year. It will also make this stage, and the other remaining flatter days, a bit more unpredictable. With fewer teams interested in controlling proceedings, it could be a happy development for the baroudeurs.
They're off. The riders are rolling through the neutralised section. Let's see who and how many are up for the break today.
A reminder of the overall standings after 12 stages
1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 49:24:43
2 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:01:39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:01:50
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:37
5 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:02:46
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:07
7 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:03:13
8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:03:43
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:04:13
10 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:05:11
Here we go!
Christian Prudhomme appears from the sunroof and waves this one underway. Here come the attacks.
Thomas De Gendt and Stefan Kung go off in a small group but they are given no leeway whatsoever.
It looks like Demare's FDJ teammates policing things at the moment.
De Gendt goes again. When he shows such interest in getting the break, you just know it's a day where it could go all the way.
De Gendt is joined by EF-Drapac's Tom Scully. The peloton eases up and spreads across the road as a Direct Energie rider tries to skip across.
It's Sylvain Chavanel for Direct Energie. He's busting his gut to get across. The other two will surely be glad to have him on board.
It's kicking off again now as Guillaume Van Keirsbulck gives it another go for Wanty. Kung as well goes again now.
The peloton is strung out once more. Sky also have men up there keeping an eye on these moves.
De Gendt and Scully are still working together on their own. Chavanel hasn't made it across. They have more than a minute on the peloton but there's another small group in between.
Michael Schär (BMC) and Dimitri Claeys (Cofidis) are the two riders on the counter-attack.
Meanwhile FDJ take back control at the head of the peloton. Big day for them and a big opportunity for Demare.
Schar and Claeys are 54 seconds down on De Gendt and Scully. That's going to be a long and painful one to close.
The big news overnight is that Vincenzo Nibali has left the race. The 2014 champion was taken out in a collision with a spectator on Alpe d'Huez, and although he got up and finished the stage, X-rays later revealed a fractured vertebra. Details here.
140km remaining from 169km
Claeys and Schar have made it across. De Gendt was not letting up earlier but has clearly seen the sense in having double the horsepower up front. The quartet now have 3:20 over the peloton.
The loss of Nibali, incidentally, is another big blow for the race. Not only does he pretty much guarantee drama in the final week, but the sporting contest was heavily shaped - and months of training and sacrifice washed down the drain - at the hands of a careless fan. Again, not a good look.
138km remaining from 169km
The break are on the Côte de Brié, one of two categorised climbs on today's menu. It's 2.4km long at a fairly tough 6.9%, and it's a Category-3 ascent.
De Gendt leads them to the top, but there's no real contest for the KOM points. Julian Alaphilippe wears the polka-dot jersey, out in front on 84 points.
135km remaining from 169km
The peloton crests the climb 2:30 in arrears. Bora and UAE have put a man on the front of the FDJ train.
The field just doesn't seem to want to let this group get too far away. The gap is down again to 2:12.
Those three Alps stage really divided the field into contenders and pretenders. Or as Daniel Benson writes, "The cream rises to the top". Read his analysis of the whole situation here.
123km remaining from 169km
The gap is now down to 1:38.
Bora has finally sent a rider to the front of the chasing field, with FDJ right behind him.
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) was not happy with his second place finish atop Alpe d'Huez, as he really wanted to win the stage. Still, he moved closer to Froome in GC and may have spotted weaknesses in the Sky team.
The field is now making its way through Grenoble. LeTour.fr tells us, "The first yellow jersey was awarded in Grenoble to Eugène Christophe in 1919. Next year's Tour de France will celebrate the centenary of the mythical leader's jersey."
A number of riders did not start this morning. There were a number of DNFs yesterday, and two riders missed the time cut. Then there is the sad case of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida), who came to fall, due apparently to a fan, and ended up with a fractured vertabra.
UAE Emirates has moved up to join in the lead work, sharing the load with Bora-hansgrohe and FDJ. The gap is hanging steadly at 1:30.
Meanwhile Froome is moving up from the team cars back up to the peloton, as are a number of riders. We assume there was a group nature break.
Bad news for Burgos-BH, which has a wildcard invitation to the Vuelta a Espana. Their rider Igor Merino has been temporarily suspended after testing positive for growth hormone.
Steven Kruijswijik (LottoNL-Jumbo) didn't win the stage, but he won almost everyone's heart. The Dutchman made a huge effort to win on Alpe d'Huez, only to be caught with 3.5km to go. The honour of Most Combative Rider was only a partial reward.
Less than 100 km to go, and the gap has jumped to 2:04. The four have come to the intermediate sprint, and it should come as no surprise that De Gendt has jumped to take the sprint points.
The group comes to the sprint, and the handful of sprinters left in the race take off in pursuit of points. Kristoff and Degenkolb lead the way ahead of green jersey Sagan.
91km remaining from 169km
91 kilometres still to run and just one categorised climb left before the finish in Valence, coming with 60km to go. After that the road does rise again before a largely downhill run to Valence.
83km remaining from 169km
The gap grows slightly once more as the peloton head through the feed zone. 2:12 now for De Gendt, Scully, Schar, and Claeys.
This photo from Seb Piquet, who does the race radio, shows Lawson Craddock is now taking his own musettes. The American broke his scapula on the opening day and up until now had been going back to the team car for feeds given how unstable he was on the bike.
70km remaining from 169km
The gap comes back down to 1:45. It's strange that this relatively unthreatening break have been given such little rope today.
A shot of the breakaway quartet
66km remaining from 169km
The gap continues to come down as FDJ raise the pace. 1:05 now.
The breakaway quartet hits the second of our two categorised climbs, the Côte Sainte-Eulalie-en-Royans. It's 1.5km long at 4.9%.
Once again, no contest for the KOM points at the top of the climb. Scully grabs them simply by virtue of being on the front at the time.
The peloton is still in relaxed mode on the climb. It's the big frame of Tobias Ludvigsson leading the way for FDJ.
As they come over the top, the gap stands at 1:05.
54km remaining from 169km
Ludvigsson is riding harder now and has his arms folded over his bars. The peloton strings out and the gap comes down to 40 seconds.
Austrian champion Lukas Postlberger comes through for the Bora-Hansgrohe team of Peter Sagan. It's been him, Ludviggson, and UAE's Darwin Atapuma - yes, really - sharing the workload for much of the day.
The road is rising once again, and while this isn't a categorised climb, it nevertheless looks from the profile to be a good deal trickier than the Cat-4 we've just had.
One of those days...
42km remaining from 169km
And now the gap goes back up again as FDJ, Bora, and UAE take their collective foot off the gas. 1:14 now.
This stage is quite the comedown after yesterday's heady excitement on Alpe d'Huez. I guess that's the Tour. If you can't handle me at my transition stage to Valence then you don't deserve me at my Alpe d'Huez summit finish.
35km remaining from 169km
Still it's Postlberger, Ludviggson, and Atapuma trading turns. This stage is pretty much them against De Gendt, Scully, Schar, and Claeys.
48 seconds is the gap with 35 long kilometres to go...
The riders are enjoying a downhill stretch here. The road will kick back up again briefly, but it's gentle downhill for the most part thereafter.
29km remaining from 169km
The breakaway riders now have just 30 seconds on the peloton.
Might as well listen to our latest pod, if you haven't already. Even if you have. Dan and Ed discuss the developments from the Alps.
That's it for the break, as we know it at least. On that small uncategorised climb I mentioned, De Gendt drops away, and is shortly followed by Claeys.
Schar is the man who has kicked on
22km remaining from 169km
Scully is now caught by the peloton, so Schar is alone at the head of the race. The Swiss rider has a big engine and has extended the gap back out to 48 seconds.
The peloton pass under the 20km-to-go banner and the pace increases markedly. Now the riders are hunched over their handlebars, getting themselves organised.
LottoNL-Jumbo have set up shop on the left-hand side of the road. No Groenewegen for them, remember. FDJ are still there with numbers on the right. Behind them are Sky, keeping Thomas and Froome up towards the front.
15km remaining from 169km
The change of pace sees Schar's lead start to fall. 30 seconds now for the grimacing BMC rider, and he won't last much longer at this rate.
12km remaining from 169km
It's a long, wide, exposed road for Schar, who looks in a world of discomfort out there. The peloton can see him clearly up ahead.
10km remaining from 169km
Into the final 10km for Schar and he's digging in admirably here. 24 seconds is the gap.
Trek now come to the fore after a roundabout disrupts the peloton. Degenkolb of course took that redemptive victory in Roubaix, but can he win a bunch sprint here?
A reminder for those joining us late on. No Gaviria, Groenewegen, Cavendish, Kittel, or Greipel today. They all missed the time cuts in the mountains.
Sunweb are also up there. They have Dumoulin to protect but also Nikias Arndt is a sprinter who could be in with a shout here.
6km remaining from 169km
Peter Sagan is behind four teammates
Alexander Kristoff has sought out Sagan's wheel. Colbrelli looking for it too.
Sky are on the front now.
5km remaining from 169km
Schar is caught. All together.
Schar is spat straight out of the back
A big right-hand bend and Kwiatkowski comes through, but now FDJ take back control.
It's getting strung out here as Bora raise the pace with one man on - or just off - the front.
It's Daniel Oss for Bora and he has a mini gap here. Kwiatkowski helps shut it down as Trek come up again now.
3km remaining from 169km
3km to go. GC riders can relax.
Sagan is 10 wheels back. Richeze is preparing to sprint for Quick-Step
2km remaining from 169km
Trek leading it into the final 2km.
Trek have three men in front of Degenkolb here. Van Avermaet just behind.
Kristoff has moved up onto Degenkolb's wheel now.
1km remaining from 169km
FDJ come back and muscle Trek out of the way
Philippe Gilbert attacks!
Long-ranger from the Belgian. FDJ set about pulling it back.
500 metres to go. Gilbert is still away. Small gap
FDJ shut it down. Spritn about to be launched
Demare opes it up...
Kristoff and Sagan coming up strong, and Sagan takes it!
Boy that was close, but Sagan pips Kristoff to the line. Demare just faded there slightly and has to settle for third.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 13 of the Tour de France
Replays show Demare bashing his bars in frustration. What a chance for the Frenchman, and after all that work from his team.
Gilbert's attack did complicate matters for his lead-out and maybe forced him into going slightly earlier than he'd have liked.
Fourth place goes to Degenkolb, fifth to Van Avermaet.
That's Sagan's third win of this Tour de France, and the 11th of his career. He could have had many more, too, having finished runner-up or third place on more than 30 stages.
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 03:45:55
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
3 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
4 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
7 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team
8 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10 Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
Here's Sagan in his winner's flash interview
"It's fantastic. It was a flat stage, and everyone could recover a bit in the group. I think everyone was happy in the bunch to have a relaxed stage.
"I'm very happy to win today, it's very nice for me and thanks to all my teammates because they did a very good job. I thought I'd left it a little bit late, I was a little bit behind in the last 600m, then on the last turn I tried to bring myself up to the front, and after that I stayed on the wheel of Kristoff and I'm very happy to beat him."
With that, Sagan extends his lead in the points classification. You might as well give him the green jersey now. "It looks that way," Sagan says, "but it's important to get to Paris."
General Classification after stage 13
1 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 53:10:38
2 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:01:39
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:50
4 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:02:46
5 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:03:07
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 00:03:13
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:03:43
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 00:04:13
9 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 00:05:11
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 00:05:45
No Nibali anymore so Fuglsang moves into the top 10 overall. No time differences or mishaps between the yellow jersey candidates, though, on what, as Sagan pointed out, will have been a very welcome relaxed day in the bunch.
Here's Philippe Gilbert
"It was a hard stage. The bunch was constantly playing with the break, but the guys were smart. They were going fast then slow, fast then slow. The finale was really fast, there were a lot of roundabouts. I decided to stay in around position 20, I knew what was coming and I thought I could use my position to get speed and come from behind. That's what I did, just not fast enough."
"It's a little bit strange to be involved in a sprint when we were on the Alpe d'Huez yesterday and after the other riders dropping out I really wanted the sprint today. I took the sprint exactly how I wanted to but they were just stronger than me. I didn't feel like I made any mistakes today, everything was perfect. Maybe I should've gone earlier, maybe that was the way I could've beaten them.
"Other than a stage victory I'm not missing much to be perfectly honest, Peter Sagan is a better rider than me . I don't have any regrets, the team worked amazingly for me. Everyone's really tired after competing in the Alps. The sprint was about mental fortitude in the end, in the final 40 kilometres still to go in the valley, I felt exhausted and I had to put it all in. We've been riding a lot and that was not a normal stage."
Kristoff came so close but had no complaints...
"Unfortunately he managed to come around me and I tried to keep him behind but he's unbelievable. He's beaten me like this several times before and again today. I'm a little disappointed, yeah ok I had a good finish but unfortunately it was not enough. I didn't go too early, I waited after Demare started and I kept the pace to the finish line but he was just faster."
Here's yellow jersey Geraint Thomas speaking to ITV
"I think the whole peloton enjoyed an easier day after the last three. It was a stressful finale, as always. We rode well, like we have all race. You try and do as little as possible - every acceleration, you don't really want to do it, and it hurts a bit more because you're not totally ready for it. It's good to get today out of the way."
It didn't work out for Michael Schar, but the odds were stacked against him. Still, his efforts earn him the combativity award.
"I kept on believing. I told myself there is always a chance. If they have some problems in the back there is always a chance. If you never give up, one day it works out," he said.
"It's cool to have the red number, it's something honourable. Also when I came back to the bunch a lot of guys said 'congrats for the ride', so it's something cool."
Here's our report page, where you'll be able to find a write-up, a photo gallery, and results
That's it from us today. Thanks for sticking with it... Tomorrow is sure to be more eventful as we head into the Massif Central and back to that finish at Mende. We'll be back here tomorrow to take you through every pedal stroke. In the meantime we'll have all the talking points covered from our team in France. A demain!
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