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Sunday, July 17, 2016

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Tour de France stage 14 news

Lotto-Soudal reports Jens Debusschere had to abandon:

Jens Debusschere was involved in a crash during the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France and therefore he’s forced to abandon the race. Further examinations have shown that Jens has a fissure in his scapula, a disrupted collar bone, a knee incision and a bruised hand.

Jens Debusschere: “Abandoning the Tour is very hard as well mentally as physically. I did a sanitary stop and picked up some water bottles at the team car after I crashed with among others Matti Breschel. It was a dumb accident with big consequences. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to show what I’m capable of during the past two weeks, although I felt really good. It will be very important to recover entirely and after that I’ll focus on the final part of the season. Normally, that’s a good period for me so we’ll see.”

Jens Debusschere

Jens Debusschere having a good day at this year's Dwars Door Vlaanderen

The fourteenth stage at the Tour de France ran like the expected sprint scenario. A front group of four riders was formed after about 30 kilometres. The peloton controlled the gap really well. The final escapees were reeled in at three kilometres from the finish so a bunch sprint took place. Mark Cavendish was the fastest, André Greipel finished at the sixth place. Thomas De Gendt won the first KOM sprint of the day and therefore he remains leader in that classification. 

Here's what stage winner Mark Cavendish's Dimension Data team reported:

Mark Cavendish made it another incredible day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as he won stage 14 of the Tour de France. It was Cavendish’s 4th win of the Tour and our African Team’s 5th of the race this year. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) finished 2nd and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) placed 3rd.

The 208km from Montelimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux was always looked at as being a stage for the sprinters. It was a stage our sprint ace, Cavendish had targeted weeks ago and so our African Team’s plan was clear from early on in the stage. When 4 riders went clear in a breakaway attempt, Natnael Berhane went to the front of the peloton to control the gap.

The threat of crosswinds was constant throughout the day and so our African Team made sure to keep the gap under 4-minutes for the entire day while also keeping Cavendish protected at the head of the peloton. With 25km to go, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Serge Pauwels took over from Berhane and began upping the tempo with a precarious crosswind section coming up. The faster pace meant the breakaway was caught just inside 10km to go and a few riders then lost contact with the head of the race.

Cavendish and our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka troops were perfectly positioned to execute our plan for the finale. Bernhard Eisel was flawless in piloting the boys up until 6km to go and then our South African, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg took over. For the final kilometer Cavendish had Boasson Hagen as his guardian right up until our Manxman fixed himself to the wheel of Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep).

Kittel launched the sprint with around 250m to go and Cavendish was poised to jump going around the final right hand bend. Cavendish did so perfectly, rocketing into the lead and across the line first to take his 30th career Tour de France stage victory. A phenomenal achievement for the Manxman and a special win for our African Team, coming on the final day of our #Qhubeka5000 challenge campaign.

Mark Cavendish

Cavendish signals his fourth stage win this Tour.

Mark Cavendish – Rider: "It was a great day. It was a long day and it was easy to lose concentration and waste energy on a day like today. When it’s a headwind and the sun is out like that, you really have to try preserve yourself. The guys made sure I had everything I needed and was sheltered from the wind the whole day. Natnael rode the whole day from the front and then it was important to be on the front from a long way out because of the narrow road. We had Daniel and Serge riding to control the bunch and catch the breakaway.

"We had to use Bernie up early as well. He had to drop us off with 6km to go. From then on it was Reinie and Edvald looking after me. With 2km to go I saw Etixx-Quickstep were a little undermanned for a headwind finish, so I made sure I was on Marcel Kittel’s wheel. Edvald stayed there with me to make sure I was sheltered from the wind and I just rode of the back of those. Kittel was left a little early into the headwind so I waited until he got his peak speed and then jumped around him for the line. I am really happy with another win for Team Dimension Data and more exposure for Qhubeka, to get 5000 children on bicycles."

Here's the stage 14 update BMC sent me:

16 July, 2016, Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux(FRA): It was another slow day in the saddle ending in a bunch sprint on stage 14 of the Tour de France which saw Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen safely delivered to the line by their teammates.

Strong winds made an already long stage even longer, with the peloton letting a four-man breakaway stay away until just three kilometers to go. The sprinters' teams worked hard to pull the breakaway back, as did BMC Racing Team's riders at the front of the bunch to keep Porte and van Garderen out of trouble in the hectic finale.

Mark Cavendish (Team Dimension Data) won the bunch sprint, edging out Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

Tejay van Garderen remains in sixth place on the General Classification, and Richie Porte in eighth place, behind current leader Chris Froome (Team SKY). BMC Racing Team continues to lead the Team Classification, 2'30" ahead of Movistar Team.

Richie Porte: "There were cross winds, head winds, the wind was just swirling everywhere. After such a hard time trial yesterday it was just a niggly sort of stage, tricky roads and quite a tricky final. It's a nice one to get done to be honest. Michael Schär and Marcus Burghardt today in the last 20 kilometers pretty much dragged the whole peloton, and Rohan Dennis as well. It's nice to get back into the mountains tomorrow and we'll just see what happens. It's a very hard stage so we'll see how everyone is after today."

Tejay van Garderen: "I wouldn't necessarily say it was the hardest stage of the race but there's never an easy day at the Tour de France. It was hot with lots of head wind. I wouldn't say it was the most nervous stage but it was long. I'm just glad to get through it. The team has been stellar the whole race. We definitely owe a lot to them and hopefully we can repay them with tomorrow and get through the third week."

Amaël Moinard: "There is no easy stage in the Tour de France. It is really hard for the positioning, getting Richie and Tejay in a good place at the finish. To be safe and in position is always a hard job. Tomorrow is also a really hard stage so we have two big stages ahead of us before the rest day."

Here's Tinkoff's stage 14 news:

After strong winds buffeted the peloton on stage 14, it was a big effort for the sprinters to contest the win after nearly six hours in the saddle. With headwinds pushing speeds down as low as 30km/h, the riders were feeling their efforts as the final push to the line came. Coming from a long way behind, Peter Sagan took third, negotiating the sprint trains of his rivals, and taking his sixth top three finish at the race so far.

Cavendish and Sagan

Cavendish and green-clad Peter Sagan just after the sprint.

Three fourth category climbs marked today’s 208.5km stage, but while the categorised climbs were out of the way by a little over 100km, the remainder of the day was far from flat, with an undulating parcours to sap some energy from the riders before what was expected to be a sprint finish. The peloton was watching Peter Sagan however, after the UCI World Champion had stolen the win from the sprinters on stage 11.

When the flag dropped on the day’s racing, riders were met with strong headwinds, which slowed the pace and created echelons in the peloton. It would be a little longer before the day’s break formed with riders preferring to shelter from the wind in the bunch, but after almost 30km of racing, a group of four escaped up the road. The peloton was happy to let them go – the sprint teams confident that they would be able to make the catch.

Sport Director, Steven De Jongh, explained the peloton’s initial reluctance to form a break. “It was a really long day on the bike today into the head wind, and everyone is feeling the legs after two hard weeks of racing. So there wasn't much enthusiasm for the breakaway this morning but eventually one got away.”

A little over 60km to go came the intermediate sprint. While the breakaway took the bulk of the points, it was Peter Sagan who surged ahead to take the first points of the bunch, adding to his tally in the green jersey standings. Peter’s strong effort would give the team confidence as the pace rose steadily to try and pull in the break, which still held a decent advantage at 10km from the finish, but their day’s efforts were beginning to show as the time gap came down quickly and with 4km to go, the catch was made.

It was a tough run in to the finish with some late bends to test the sprinters, with the final turn a right-hander that saw teams fighting hard to hold position. Riding into a headwind, Peter came from a long way back, where he had been slowed by the other teams’ sprint train riders dropping off, taking 3rd on the line after a huge effort. His top three finish saw him limit the points difference to those chasing him in the Maillot Vert campaign. Finishing with the same time as the sprinters, Roman Kreuziger maintained his 11th spot in the GC, ready to take on the Alps tomorrow.

De Jongh summed up the team’s strategy for getting in position for the sprint in the tough weather conditions. “In the final, the sprinters’ teams started to control the race and we kept quiet and looked after Peter and Roman before the section where there were some crosswinds, where we moved up. At the finish Peter fought his way up to the front and did a good sprint. It's always hard for him to win a really fast finish like today against the big guys, but he did a good job.”

Speaking from the stage finish, Peter was pleased to have kept hold of the green jersey today. “Today was a bit of risky sprint – it was into a headwind and a lot of riders wanted to be at the front and sit in the wheels. I started from far back and slowly came up to third place. I lost a few points but there are a lot of climbing stages where I hope to take some points. Today for the green jersey it was about losing the fewest points possible.”

It’s back to the mountains tomorrow for stage 15, where the six categorised climbs of the day make the 160km parcours look more like a set of sharks' teeth. The Hors Catégorie Grand Colombier will be the climb of the day, climbing 12.8km before a fast descent to the final climb of the day – the first category Lacets du Grand Colombier – tackling the same climb from different approaches. The team’s focus will be on looking after Roman on what will be a tough, hot day in the mountains, explained De Jongh. “Tomorrow will be a much different day and it's going to be another test for the GC guys where we will look to support Roman.”

And lastly, here's LottoNL-Jumbo's stage 14 update:

Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen sprinted to 11th in stage 14 to Villars-les-Dombes today. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) won the 208-kilometre stage from a bunch sprint after an escape of four was brought under control.

"I think there is no more in it, I start to get tired,” Groenewegen said. He blamed it on the final two kilometres. "We were all right and some guys in front of me hit the brakes. I hit the grass and lost my team. Wynants then brought me back to the front, but in the sprint, I lacked power. I started my sprint in 12th place and I crossed the line 11th, which proves that I miss the power that I normally have.

"It is mainly because such a grand tour does have impact, and it is not abnormal that I'm getting tired. Sunday’s stage is probably too heavy so the final, so my next chance is if I reach Paris. If I keep well, I’ll make it and try to sprint in Paris."

"We heard a lot of shouting over the radio at two kilometres remaining, Dylan went on the roadside,” Sports Director Merijn Zeeman added. “The men waited for him, but it took a lot of strength and Groenewegen wasn’t at the front anymore. We are full of motivation to deliver a good sprint before the Alps, but we have not succeeded."

"Because of the headwind, we decided to wait,” Sep Vanmarcke said. "We were good together in the last three kilometres, where the wind played a major role. If you have headwind you quickly become tired and lose each other, so we decided to do short turns on the front.

“We were split and Dylan had to jump from rider to rider. It's a shame because we were good together and we seemed to be perfect today. “He showed a lot of character in the Pyrenees. If he makes it through the Alps, I hope he’s good for the sprint in Paris."

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