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Cycling Racing News and Opinion
July 18, 2014

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First, a word from our sponsor, McGann Publishing. OK, that's me. But selling our books is what pays the bills for

The audiobook version of Les Woodland's Tour de France: The Inside Story has just become available on, and iTunes. Oscar Sparrow did a lovely job of voicing the book and I know you'll enjoy it. Oscar was kind enough to make a video explaining how he went about the reading. There's more to it than you might think.


Tour de France Stage 13 Notes

Stage 13's trip to the high Alps produced some fantastic racing. The riders blitzed the course and were well ahead of the organizer's fastest forecast. Combine that with high temperatures and some riders, like Alejandro Valverde, thrived and advanced theirs causes. Other, Like Sky's Richie Porte simply melted.

Vincenzo Nibali's ride was splendid. Again, he timed everything to perfection, won the stage and increased his overall lead. He explained to l'Equipe how he saw the day's racing:

"I suffered enormously from the heat. The higher I climbed, the better I felt. In the final climb, I tried to watch my opponents, I wanted above all to control the race. When I saw that [Richie] Porte was dropped, I tried to gain time on him and Valverde. I accelerated to join the two riders who were up ahead [Leopold König and Rafal Majka]. Then as I saw that Valverde and Pinot were trying to come back to me, I went off alone.

"I was very happy because I won some important seconds. I took time from Alejandro Valverde and Richie Porte. This victory is a liberation because the final climb was long and the heat made it a very difficult race. Winning with the yellow jersey, it gives another dimension to victory."

Nibali also gained the lead in the mountains classification. When asked about that he replied, "I think Joaquim Rodriguez regain the lead in the coming days. It [the polka-dot jersey] is not a goal. I got it because there were more points for a summit finish but the final goal is the Yellow Jersey."

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali's comanding stage 13 victory. Photo ©Sirotti

Tour de France: the Inside Story

Richie Porte was in second place at the day's start, 2 minutes 23 seconds behind race leader Vicenzo Nibali. As the select group of contenders were roaring up the final climb, the ascent to Chamrousse, Porte lost contact. He was helped by Movistar's hammering at the front to set things up for an Alejandro Valverde set-piece attack. Mike Nieve and Geraint Thomas were there to get Porte back into the race, but it wasn't to be. Porte finished 27th, 8 minutes 48 seconds after Nibali had taken his spectacular stage win. Porte is now 16th on the general classification, his chances for a high finish about done.

Porte was honest about the day, “I don’t think I dealt with the heat very well. It’s one of those things. It’s a massive shame but we’ll see what happens tomorrow. I feel more for my team-mates who have been brilliant for me every day. If it happens to me it can happen to other guys too. We’ll just keep on pushing.”

Team boss David Brailsford has seen his two well-prepared GC men fall out of contention (Chris Froome crashed out earlier) and was philosophical, "It was a difficult day but we’ll keep on fighting. We’ve had some terrific performances in the last couple of years at the Tour de France. We’d have liked to see that happen again but every now and again in sport you get dealt a tough blow. Today is one of those for us but we’ll come back and keep on racing to the end in Paris."

Richie porte and Mikel Nieve

Mikel Nieve leads Rochie Port to the finish. Photo ©Sirotti

Thibaut Pinot was on song today. When Valverde attacked, the first rider up to the Spaniard was Nibali. Then the FDJ rider appeared on the wheels of the duo. Shortly thereafter Nibali left the other two, but Pinot was up to the task of handling Valverde. In fact, as they raced for the summit Valverde wouldn't take his pulls. Pinot asked him to contribute and Valverde said he couldn't, he was at his limit. Fifteen seconds later Valverde attacked Pinot, but for the moment Pinot was not to be dropped. Valverde did beat Pinot across the line by three seconds.

About his chances for a high finish in Paris, Pinot said:

"It's good news that Porte was dropped because he was superior in time trials. But Van Garderen and Jean-Christophe Peraud are not too far back and they're good in time trials. I'm among the contenders for a top five or podium finish."

Pinot is realistic about the top place on the podium, "For the overall win, it would take a very very bad day for Nibali. For the moment it's Nibali and the others."

Pinot's ride was good enough to elevate him to fourth place, 4 minutes 40 seconds behind Nibali.

Thibaut Pinot and Alejandro Valverde

Thibaut Pinot leads Alejandro Valverde after going under the red kite. Photo ©Sirotti

Rafal Majka was second today. The Polish rider for Tinkoff-Saxo said, “I’m satisfied, but I will definitely try to win the stage to Risoul tomorrow if possible. I’m at the Tour and I’ve done the Giro, so naturally I’m a bit tired. But I’m glad that I came in second just after Nibali on a 20-kilometer climb. That’s not so bad. I will try to be aggressive tomorrow like I was today. Rogers and Roche are strong on the climbs so we have different cards to play. The first climb tomorrow will definitely be hard as well so that could be a good spot to attack if the right moment comes.”

Leopol Konig and Rafal Majka

Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) leading Rafal Majka to Chamrousse. Photo ©Sirotti

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