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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, July 15, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm. - Calvin Coolidge

Current Racing

Latest completed racing:

Tour de France stage 13 team reports

We'll start with the obviously very happy Team Sunweb:

After remaining focused on one goal, Team Sunweb have powered to the stage 13 Tour de France victory today, with Warren Barguil (FRA) winning the sprint from the breakaway group, a phenomenal victory on Bastille Day.

From the beginning of the Tour de France, Team Sunweb set out with one goal; stage success. The team had a few close calls with a second place for Michael Matthews (AUS) on stage three, followed by a brilliant team effort that allowed Barguil to take over the lead in the king of the mountains competition and narrowly miss day success on stage nine. Throughout the Tour de France's thirteen stages Team Sunweb remained calm and focused on the plan, which today led to stage success with Barguil storming to take a historical victory.

"This is an incredible victory to take, it hasn't sunk in properly yet," explained a euphoric Barguil. "We were close already on Sunday, but we kept our confidence and chosed an offensive strategy from the beginning today. After I made it up the first climb I knew that I wasn't going to give up. Before I knew it I was at 800 metres to go looking at the other guys and I knew who would attack and when and I used that to my advantage as a lead-out for my sprint. I've been so close to the win quite a few times now so to have the winning feeling back today is incredible. Of course a victory on Bastille day makes this even more special."

Warren Barguil

Warren Barguil having the best of all possible days.

Team Sunweb's Tour de France coach Aike Visbeek (NED) added: "We believed in the team's ability to take a stage victory at the Tour and everybody has remained committed to that goal so it's great that all of our hard work has paid off. Our aim today was for Warren to ride offensively both for the stage win and to defend his KOM jersey. He remained motivated and calm going into the final, pacing everything to perfection. This victory is great for the team morale and a well deserved win after some challenging days in the mountains."

Here's the report from Nairo Quintana's Team Movistar:

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) started turning things around, both physically and mentally, to what had been a bitter 2017 Tour de France for the telephone squad and got Eusebio Unzué's squad back into good feelings in a day of big spectacle. The final Pyrenees stage -101km from Saint-Girons to Foix with three Cat-1 ascents: Latrape, Agnes and the Mur de Péguère- did not disappoint, with four talented riders, including the 'Cóndor', leaving the peloton behind and making the GC way more open than before.

Launched by Carlos Betancur, also in his best form so far in the 'Grande Boucle', Quintana jumped away from the favourites' group into the Agnes climb, 63km from the end, pursuing Mikel Landa (SKY) and Contador (TFS) who were holding a 40-second advantage. The gap did not change much during neither the ascent -which Nairo covered with strong, solo relays-, the descent -where he found help from Warren Barguil (SUN) and came meters short to bridging back- nor the whole climb of Péguère, where a strong finish by Barguil reduced the 45" gap they saw growing on its slopes. The four riders were thus together to fight for the stage win.

With no cooperation inside the reduced group of favourites, the gap never went down the two minutes the quartet had before the descent. Quintana's advantage at the finish ended up being 1'48", Barguil beating him for the day's honours. All of that, combined with the six-second bonus for Nairo (2nd) and Landa's presence at the front, makes for a closer GC: Aru -race leader-, Froome, Bardet, Urán, Landa, Martin, Yates and Quintana (8th) now sit just 2'07" apart, with all of the Alps and the TT showdown in Marseille still to come.

Nairo Quintana

Nairo Quintana leading Warren Barguil in stage twleve.

The Tour will head into the Massif Central on Saturday, a 181.5km ride from Blagnac to Rodez ending with the steep Côte de Saint-Pierre (570m, 9,6% gradient), which will force all contenders to keep an eye on each other again.

Nairo Quintana: "As long as we have anything left into the tank, as long as I felt good, I'll always keep trying doing my best. I just hope to find this legs for another day in this race. I'm back there with the top guys, I'm not losing confidence and I hope we can do like this for a couple of days, so we can go for it. We've always fought with heart and soul, we've always been up there. You just don't lose your touch from one day to another. If you've got the skills, they show up at some point. We want to keep leaving our impression in this Tour."

Alberto Contador had a good day of racing. Here's the update from his Trek-Segafredo team:

Yesterday's stage 12 at the Tour de France saw the first glimpse, albeit brief, of Alberto Contador of old, and in Friday's stage 13, the Spanish rider we have all come to know, the one that says never-say-die, arose to try and steal the show – and almost did.

Contador went on the attack on the first of three category-one climbs and never relented over the next 70 or so kilometers; only Mikel Landa (Sky) responded and was able to hold his wheel.

"This Tour for me has been very complicated since the start, and two days ago was a very bad day for me. Yesterday, I just tried to follow the other guys in the GC but I could not in the last climb," explained Contador. "Today I wanted to try and do something special, to enjoy it, and I think it was a beautiful day for the people.  It was nice; I like my work, I like the cycling. For sure when I saw that it was 101kms and hard I thought, okay, we can do something today."

While Landa – less than three minutes down in the general classification - put pressure on the GC rivals behind, Contador only thought of one thing: the stage victory.

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador getting the red number for his aggression in stage thirteen.

"I was thinking in doing something different, to open the race a bit. I didn't want us to stay in a group until the end," he continued. "I obviously aimed for the stage victory. In the end I was happy to see Mikel join me. The collaboration between Mikel and me improved during the stage. Honestly, I think for Sky it was a perfect situation to have him upfront - they had someone who can play for the GC. Obviously, I didn't know how they played it behind me."

Behind were two chasers, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Warren Barguil (Sunweb), who finally closed to the pair out front at the top of the final climb with just over 26 mostly downhill kilometers remaining. And further behind, the yellow jersey group that played a poker game of who would flinch first.

While the GC rivals continued to attack each other – mostly on the long descent - the leading quartet easily held the two-minute gap to the line. In the last few hundred meters, Contador, knowing he was not the fastest of the four, attacked ahead of the final tricky turns.

It was an audacious move to start the day, and another courageous attempt at the end, but Barguil, privy to the move, was quickly on Contador's wheel. Barguil swept around Contador to take the win - a French victor for Bastille Day - while Quintana also inched ahead at the line to leave Contador in third. But happy.

"When Warren and Nairo joined us, the collaboration became a bit more difficult. Obviously Warren is a very fast rider so he barely worked with us. But he is a guy with a lot of grinta and for sure he didn't steal this victory," said Contador.

"Of course it would have been better to win the stage for the sponsors and my team, but in the end, it was still a very nice day of cycling for me, and I think for everybody. It was something different because normally you just attack in the last kilometers.  I hope to go better in the Alps because right now my body is still full of everything from the crashes," he added.

After getting through the first week of the Tour with no crashes, Contador found himself hitting the ground at 70km/h in the first mountain stage, and from there, things just got worse. Contador promised he would be back fighting, hinting it would not be until the Alps in the final week, but today he threw down the gauntlet. He missed out on the victory but deservingly was awarded the most combative prize for the day.

"I don't know if I have the strongest mentality – this Tour de France in some moments has put me at the limit," responded Contador when told that team director Steven De Jongh called him the rider with the strongest mentality, one with a head of iron.

"You work incredibly hard to arrive here in top condition and in some tests at home I did a new record in my climbs, and then in the first mountain stage I have a really bad crash…"

"The situation for the GC is not the situation that I want. But okay, I will go out every day and enjoy the rest of the Tour. I hope to recover a little bit more before the Alps and then do some good things in the last week.  I just want to give everything I have for Trek-Segafredo, who have shown a big confidence in me, and I will fight until the final day."

Here's what Team Sky had to say about the day's racing:

Mikel Landa moved up to fifth place and Chris Froome held firm in second overall after a whirlwind stage 13 at the Tour de France.

Landa hit out on the day’s first climb, the Col de Latrape, and went clear alongside Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) as Team Sky put on an attacking show across the short and sharp 101 kilometre stage.

Behind, Chris Froome had Mikel Nieve for company in the yellow jersey group as Michal Kwiatkowski also went up the road, infiltrating Nairo Quintana’s (Movistar) attack on the day’s second climb, the Col d’Agnes.

Landa’s lead quickly spun out to nearly three minutes although it had been pegged back to two by the top of the Mur de Peguere, the day's last ascent.

Kwiatkowski fell back from the second group to wait for Froome on the Mur de Peguere and the Pole was the launchpad for attacks on both the steep final ascent and the subsequent descent to the line, but the pair were unable to dislodge race leader Fabio Aru (Astana) or eat into his overall six-second lead.

Landa and Contador were joined by Quintana and Warren Barguil (Sunweb) just ahead of the final descent and the quartet went on to do battle for the stage win, with Frenchman Barguil emerging victorious on Bastille Day.

After putting in a big stint of work in the closing stages Landa finished fourth, two seconds back, but he moves up to fifth overall, now just one minute and nine seconds off the lead.

Kwiatkowski led Froome home one minute and 48 seconds later, alongside Aru.

Chris Froome

Chris Froome heading off to start stage thirteen.

With two Team Sky riders now in the top five overall the team classification lead extends out to a hefty 19 minutes and 18 seconds.

Speaking after the stage Froome praised Landa’s performance and believes his ride opens up good options for the team on the road to Paris. He said: "We saw yesterday that Mikel was feeling great so it was a great card for us to play today. I’ve got a lot of faith in Mikel and I think he showed that today. He’s a real threat now for the overall title in Paris and it’s a great card for us to play, especially when Astana don’t have the numbers to control the race."

Landa followed Contador’s attack on the Col de Latrape and revealed afterwards that he thought his fellow Spaniard would be a good option to attack with. He said: "I think it was a nice wheel to follow. He attacked and he is a very good rider in those kind of short and very explosive stages. So I followed him and then we worked very well together."

Asked if he thought about the chances of moving into the yellow jersey, Landa added: "I thought about it, but always knowing that it was very difficult."

He said: “The plan was not to make the race hard ourselves from the start, just to see what was happening and to see which riders were interested to try something and to gain time back. It was probably the plan of (Nairo) Quintana and (Alberto) Contador and some others and our idea was just to be ready for that and if those guys would move then Mikel Landa was the guy to be with them.

“And he did a great job, he was there riding great and because of this the others had to chase. At the end it was perfect for us as Landa took two minutes and he is now really close on GC which could be good next week if we have to play another tactic.

“But on the other hand, Chris is still our leader so for next week we will be supporting him most. With Mikel know fifth, one minute behind, we have another card to play if needed. I think the mindset of the riders has changed as they know when we have the yellow jersey we will control it, and we have a strong team and were the team doing that.

“Now it’s a bit uncertain and we don’t know how strong Astana are, we saw that Astana were struggling a lot as Jakob (Fuglsang) had to stop the race and (Fabio) Aru was already isolated on the first mountain and that was a sign for some of the guys to take some time back.”

Team BMC sent me this stage 13 report:

14 July, 2017, Foix (FRA): After missing out on the breakaway on stage 12, Alessandro De Marchi put in an aggressive display in the opening kilometers of stage 13 to make the early breakaway on the 101km stage.

Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) and Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) attacked to create a small gap on the peloton and after 9km of racing, De Marchi made a move and bridged to the duo.

The peloton came back together before De Marchi formed a new breakaway with Philippe Gilbert (Quickstep Floors) and Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie). The trio extended their advantage to one minute on the run into the Col de Latrape and De Marchi attacked again to go solo over the summit.

On the descent and early slopes of the category 1 Col d'Anges, De Marchi held onto a 35-second advantage over the reduced peloton before he was caught by Mikel Landa (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) with 63.5km to go.

After holding the wheel for the following 3km, De Marchi dropped back to the yellow jersey group featuring Damiano Caruso. The two BMC Racing Team riders continued in the 24-rider group until the Mur de Peguere, where they were distanced by the attacks from the General Classification favorites.

As the battle for the yellow jersey raged on ahead, Caruso continued to ride at his own temp and eventually crossed the line in 18th place, 4'08" behind stage winner Barguil, which was enough to hold onto 14th overall.

Alessandro De Marchi: "In the end, I can say that it wasn't the right day because the breakaway didn't go to the finish. I was there, I found the good move. But then when Contador and Landa moved, it wasn't my place. I needed another race situation. We will see tomorrow; we will try again. At the Tour de France, you need the perfect day. We still have a lot of opportunities and we will fight until Paris."

Damiano Caruso: "It was really fast and brutal. From the start to the finish, it was all day à bloc and in the final climb I lost the wheel of the best GC riders and then I finished with my grupetto. The legs feel good but it wasn't enough to stay with the best riders. We still have to work and I'm looking forward to the next days. Now, I have lost more time on GC so maybe I will have the chance to take a breakaway."

And finally, here's Orica-Scott's Tour stage 13 report:

Paris-Nice stage winner Simon Yates has finished fifth and stolen valuable seconds in a thrilling stage 13 at the Tour de France today. The shortest stage of the Tour, at just 101km, featured three tough category-one climbs and set the scene for an aggressive day of racing as teams attacked from the opening flag to the final closing metres.

After losing touch slightly on the final climb, Yates re-joined the yellow jersey group on the descent and attacked in the final to finish alongside Dan Martin (Quickstep Floors), one-minute 39seconds down on stage winner Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb).

The 24-year-old ORICA-SCOTT rider gained nine seconds on race leader Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) and closest best young rider rival Louis Meintjes (UAE Team Emirates) and now sits seventh overall.

“I enjoy days like today where you can really get stuck in and give it a go,” Yates said at the finish. “It was a short stage, very aggressive and I’m sure it was exciting to watch. Yesterday was more about survival because it was such a long day and you really have to worry about a lot of things and saving the legs.”

“I felt OK today, I wasn’t super on the final climb but I managed to get back and then it was a heap of games between the guys down the descent in the last 30km. I managed to sneak away, catch Dan (Martin) and we worked well to the finish. We put a little bit of time into some guys, it was only a few seconds in the end but everything helps.”

Simon Yates

Simon Yates (left) and Dan Martin finish stage thirteen.

How it happened:

At just 101km in length, the short and sharp stage 12 encouraged aggressive racing and it certainly delivered.

After a number of attempts, general classification contenders Mikel Landa (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo) rode themselves to the front of proceedings and put the pressure on the yellow jersey of Aru as their advantage crept towards three-minutes.

Behind, a counter attack involving Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and King of the Mountain leader Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) set off and eventually caught the duo. The pace saw the yellow jersey group whittle down to the major contenders as they tried to unite and then attack each other to minimise the losses.

Eventually, it was an attack by Martin and then bridge by Yates that split the main contenders group in the final kilometres as the duo worked together to the line.

Ahead, Barguil sprinted to stage victory from the surviving breakaway group of four.

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