SAN DIEGO, July 16, 2015 – Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez of Team Katusha won his second stage of the 2015 Tour de France, inspired by riding a stage in the Pyrenees on familiar roads close to home and in front of his family and friends.
Rodriguez and the rest of the peloton had to battle extreme weather, starting under 90 degree temperatures which dropped 30 degrees as they hit altitude, ending with a pounding rain and hailstorm as they climbed toward the finish line.
A group of 22 riders formed an early breakaway, and the leaders let them go as none were a threat. A trio of riders pulled away in an attempt to steal the stage, but Rodriguez became part of a chasing group of cyclists who started pulling them back. The final climb began with Rodriguez nearly two minutes behind the leaders. He shook off one rider after another, and finally caught leader Michel Kwiatkowski with four miles to go. Rodriguez never looked back, putting on a show of force to win the stage by over a minute.
Seven minutes down the mountain, attempts to attack overall leader Chris Froome and Team Sky went down in flames. No one could shake Froome’s hold on the lead, aided by his teammates Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas. Team Sky put together three solid days of climbing, holding off every attempt to attack their standing including the final 10 mile climb up the punishing Plateau de Beille.
There is no significant change in the leaders. Froome leads by 2:52 over Van Garderen in second, and 3:09 over Quintana in third. Contador sits sixth, four minutes back. Nibali is hanging by a thread in ninth place, 7:47 back. Alejandro Valverde sits in a good position in fourth, 3:58 back.
Peter Sagan has a narrow lead in the sprinters green jersey competition over rival Andre Greipel. Nairo Quintana has a solid hold on the white jersey as the best young rider. For his effort today, Joaquim Rodriguez now wears the King of the Mountains jersey.
Friday, the peleton has a 120-mile ride on a flatter route with several modest climbs toward an uphill finish. It’s a chance for the leaders to have a bit of a rest before their final battle in the Alps. They should allow other ambitious teams and cyclists to try a breakway attempt. The sprinters may decide they’re feeling good and try to set themselves up for a race at the finish line.
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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