“We’re never happy. We always want more.” – Nicolas Portal
Stage 13 saw the first of the two time trial stages in the year’s edition of the Tour de France, with a TTT left out in place of a second individual time trial six days later. Today’s stage was the longest of the pair and had the greater impact on the Maillot Jaune. It featured two climbs, one from essentially KM 0 and another around 34 KM, just 3 K from the finish. The technical mid-section involved a constantly weaving road, pushing riders close to the edge and testing their bike handling skills as they attempted to stay upright in blustering wind.
“If you want to win you have to take risks.” – Dumoulin
Tom Dumoulin was an obvious favourite to win the stage, which the Dutch time trial champion achieved with a time of 50m15s, second placed Froome finishing with a time of 51m18s. Froome had produced a solid ride, further tightening his grip on the yellow jersey as his smooth time trial catapulted him almost 2 minutes ahead of his nearest competitor in GC. (Mollema, back 1m47) Bauke declared it “the best time trial of my life”, never relenting at the various checkpoints and only losing time to one of his GC rivals, Froome. Quintana hadn’t had the easiest ride, with no wheels to follow this stage. He appeared to need to drink a lot more than any rider out on the road and came close to scraping the crowd stood in front of a large stone wall, the same Bardet had only just missed minutes before. Little impact was made by Valverde, who is now over 3 minutes behind in GC.
“I couldn’t hear anything on the radio. It was so windy out there and I didn’t know what the times were out there. It hurt like hell, to be honest, and yesterday with the motorbike doesn’t help either. I’m a little bit sore, it’s disappointing. I’m sure the race is not over yet.”
Richie Porte had professionally kept his cool when a crowd member threw something into his face which the wind carried away just in time during his time trial. He had a self-confessed disappointing stage when revealing afterwards that he couldn’t hear anything on the radio, and as such couldn’t judge his position, speed and distance in relation to other GC contenders and Dumoulin. He placed 21st.
One of the other biggest disappointments of the day was felt by Tony Martin, the three-time world champion in the discipline was spent after the stage, sitting on the steps of the Etixx team bus while still being able to produce an intelligible interview. Obviously dejected, yet gave his all.
The Brits also had a good stage. White jersey wearer Adam Yates beat Quintana, taking 18th on the day while Geraint Thomas also saw his time of 52m14 place him 7th. Steve Cummings also managed to hold on to 10th place, just 2m24 back on stage winner Dumoulin.
However successes weren’t celebrated at the end of the stage. Instead all the jersey wearers of Froome, De Gendt, Yates, Sagan and stage winner Dumoulin were invited on to the stage together where a minute silence took place as a tribute for the victims in Nice.
Tomorrow’s stage sees more of an impact towards the green jersey, with the sprint stage suiting the likes of Sagan, Kittel and Cavendish. Yet could Degenkolb finally get his Tour stage win?