SAN DIEGO, July 14, 2015 – The riders needed every bit of their rest day to get prepared for the week ahead at the 2015 Tour de France.
Starting on Stage 10 Tuesday, the peloton spends three tour days in the Pyrenees. The top contenders all started the day within reach of the podium, and they had their first real opportunity to put some time on their rivals with strong performances during this stretch of the race. It’s also the time to make a strong statement they have what it takes this year to stand on the podium in Paris.
With four miles to go to the summit finish, Chris Froome of Sky Racing put on a burst of speed and never looked back. Nibali was the first to crack and fall off the back; Contador also had his troubles. Nairo Quintana of Movistar tried to stay with him, but couldn’t do it and followed over one minute back at the finish line, with Froome’s teammate Richie Porte nipping Quintana for second place to steal a few bonus seconds. Tejay Van Garderen of BMC Racing came in over the line in tenth place, 2:32 back. Contador crossed in 11th place, 2:51 back.
Just as he did in 2013, Froome decided to make a statement on the first climbing stage and demoralize his rivals. The team publicly stated before the race it would ride conservatively, but Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas later said the team was riding well, and decided “stuff it, we’re going for it.” Froome gave credit to his team’s strong performance for his stage win.
Former Tour champion Contador called it a “complicated day.” “I knew it was an important day today. I wanted not to lose too much time but I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t turn my legs. I don’t know why. It was really a bad day for me. We’re going to see what we can do to, whether we can improve our overall ranking. The priority is to relax, sit back, consider the situation calmly and act accordingly.”
Nibali admitted to similar problems. “It was a difficult day. I couldn’t keep the pace. I could not breathe properly. I couldn’t find the right pedalling pace. It was as if I didn’t have any strength left. I could hardly follow my own team-mates. I tried to pace my effort, but I dropped after four kilometers and decided to climb more gradually. For sure Chris Froome hammered us badly. But we all lost time, all the favorites did: Van Garderen, Rodriguez, even Contador. We all thought we were better. It’s going to be difficult now. Physically I feel pretty well. But I can’t give anymore. I’m not the same Vincenzo Nibali as last year.”
Froome now leads by 2:52 over Van Garderen in second, and 3:09 over Quintana in third. Contador sits sixth, four minutes back. Nibali is now nearly seven minutes back and barring a miracle, the 2014 Tour winner is effectively out.
Andre Greipel took back the green sprinters jersey today from Peter Sagan. For his effort, Nairo Quintana now wears the white jersey as the best young rider. Froome also grabbed the King of the Mountains jersey.
The climbers who lost time on Tuesday’s stage look to regroup on an even tougher stage Wednesday, with six categorized mountain climbs including the classic ride up the Tourmalet with a summit at 6,939 feet. Fortunes can change quickly for the leaders on these punishing roads. Those who lost time Tuesday have a chance to gain back time on their rivals with a rebound Wednesday.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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