Stage 14: Montélimar > Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux

Baroudeur: (French) for fighter, warrior.                                                              >Used for riders not afraid to break away from the peloton and do things on their own, even if they might be an underdog.

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Stage 14 proved a stage just 4km too long for the barodeurs as the breakaway rejoined the peloton in the final kilometres of the stage with Mark Cavendish (DDD) taking the win. The group containing Howes, Benedetti, Roy and Elmiger seemed to be almost drawn back in to a peloton spearheaded by Daniel Teklehaimanot with 10km to go, yet Roy and Elmiger distanced a struggling Howes and Benedetti until reaching 4KM, shaking hands as they were passed by building sprint trains.

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The day was relatively quiet, starting 15 minutes earlier due to a head wind in the Rhone and after a minute’s silence for the Nice attack. 30 KM into the stage, De Gendt was first over the Colte de Puy-Saint-Martin and added to his King of the Mountains lead and Roy (FDJ) attacked with Elmiger (IAM), Howes (Cannondale) and Benedetti (Bora). The hours that followed echoed Kittel’s words before the start: “I think it’s going to be a bit boring in the first part”, with the helicopters providing us with picturesque French scenery while no real effort was made by the peloton to reel in the break. The man closest to Froome on GC was Elmiger, yet sitting just an hour and a half behind him in the general classification there was need to claw him back.

Commentator discussions throughout the day varied to not lose viewer attention through the quiet ‘transition’ stage. Carlton Kirby spoke about how La Vuelta was more difficult than the Tour due to the endless amounts of Spanish desert with a large lack of scenery to commentate on. At least there was a topic of discussion available as the cyclists passed a French town ‘orange’, which seemed to have no oranges on show. The French’s tireless and dogged anti-Froome media campaign was also addressed, as well as the fact Nairo Quintana has received zero punishment, fine or otherwise, for his illegal tow on Mont Ventoux. Interesting, yet unfortunately not surprising.

After the Elmiger/Roy catch just under 4K to go, cyclists were seen to have been pushed off the road into grass as the sprint trains formed and speed increased. McLay seemed to find himself in the perfect position on Cavendish’s wheel while Dimension Data surged towards the right hand side of the road for prime position. Cavendish then won his 30th stage of the Tour de France, in front of Kristoff (KAT) and Sagan (TNK). John Degenkolb – who I still want to see win a Tour stage (hopefully this year) – finished 4th in front of Kittel and Greipel. The best placed German sprinter.

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The biggest disappointment of the day (if we’re clutching at straws) was presumably felt by Cannondale, the only team with no top 10 result so far. They were in the break with Howes yet the 4 men were all recognising their own team failure to produce either a stage win, or not showing their sponsors enough to please. (Cannondale-Drapac are one of the teams in the peloton who receive the least amount of money). The team are also still moving on from the loss of Dan Martin to Etixx who is currently sitting 9th in GC with no sign of form dipping yet. Cannondale seemed to replace him with Uran, who was not included in the Tour line up. Neither was Andrew Talansky who they’re aiming for some form of Vuelta success with, podium or top 5. They lost Breschel during today’s stage after a crash saw him needing hospital treatment. He was a key player that could’ve impacted on Cannondale finally gaining a stage win.

Tomorrow’s stage features 2 x Category 3 climbs, 1 x Category 2, 2 x Category 1’s and 1x ‘Hors catégorie’ climb. Prepare to see sprinters such as Cavendish and Kittel dropped out the back, (despite Greipel’s breakaway climbing on stage 12, he will unfortunately be here too) while Froome and Quintana use their team trains for as long as possible to tackle the climbs.

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