SAN DIEGO, July 14, 2014 – Bastille Day dawned with a French cyclist wearing the yellow jersey as the overall leader of the 2014 Tour de France.
But the Tour’s sorting hat came out as many expected it would. What wasn’t expected was where everyone ended up after the first ten days of the Tour going into Tuesday’s rest day.
Vincenzo Nibali of Astana proved he not only wants to win the 2014 Tour de France, he wants to wear yellow all the way to Paris. On a day with six significant climbs, Nibali stayed cool until the final climb up La Planche de Belle Fines with its final 20 percent grade. He punched the gas pedal and it seemed he flew past stage leader Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha to win the stage and make a real statement about this year’s race.
The headline of the day was a somber one as another Tour favorite is out of the race. Alberto Contador of Astana suffered a bad crash flying down the road on a fast mountain descent. He got up and tried to continue the stage but he was too badly injured. It turned out he had broken his tibia (shin bone). Contador would have lost significant time, and it was a wise through disappointing decision for him to bow out.
“This was the hardest stage I’ve ever done in a Grand Tour, with seven climbs and so many crashes,” said Nibali. “As I crossed the line, I’ve dedicated it to my baby girl. I speak with my wife every day on the phone and she told me that Emma becomes silent and opens her eyes wide when she hears my voice on TV. I feel sorry for Alberto Contador. He crashed just in front of me and I’ve been scared that I’d go down as well but I don’t know why he crashed. I’ve just seen that it was a heavy fall.
“Shall I win the Tour, it’ll be difficult to say I win because Chris Froome and Contador have crashed,” Nibali observed. “I already had a good lead and I was ready to fight in a big duel with Alberto. Crashes are part of the sport. I’ve crashed myself many times in the past as well. It’s a pity that the Tour has lost two major protagonists. I hope it’s not too bad for Alberto. I wish him the best.”
With defending champion Chris Froome and previous winner Contador out, the leaderboard has some unexpected names on it.
Following Nibali is Australian Richie Porte of Team Sky moved into second, gaining a minute back at 2:23. Alejandro Valverde of Movistar is in third at 2:47 back. American Tejay Van Garderen toughed out the stage and gained some time, moving into seventh place and 3:56 back. Rui Costa of Lampre is 3:58 back. These are the only riders likely to have a chance of challenging Nibali, but after today’s performance it is more likely a race for second and third now. is 4:26 back.
American Chris Horner, the ageless iron man, moved up into the top 20 with a solid effort today, 7:33 behind the leader. Andrew Talansky had a rough day but at least he finished the stage, sitting now in 26th place nearly 15 minutes back. See the entire classification here.
Peter Sagan retains the green sprinter’s jersey. French rider Roman Bardet gave his countrymen something to cheer on Bastille Day by winning the best young rider’s white jersey. Joaquim Rodriguez now wears the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey for his outstanding effort. Tony Martin of Omega Pharma Quickstep won the most combative rider.
After ten demanding days of racing that included rainy cool weather, a rash of crashes and the loss of several Tour favorites, the riders who have survived are grateful for Tuesday’s rest day. They will refresh and regroup, and get ready for the second half of the Tour with Stage 11 starting Wednesday in Besançon and heading south toward the Swiss border, ending in Oyonnax. It is a long gradual climbing stage with several categorized climbs in the last third, just the thing to warm up the legs of the boys in the peloton before heading into the Alps the rest of the week.
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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