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Ag2r rider takes second consecutive French win on the Alpe d'Huez in a dramatic queen stage that saw Chris Froome suffer a hunger knock and lose more than a minute to Quintana and Rodriguez

Photo: Sirotti

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CHRIS FROOME

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CHRISTOPHE RIBLON

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18.07.2013 @ 17:33 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) ended the French victory drought in the most prestigious stage of them all as he overtook the lone Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) with 2km to go before leaving the American behind. In a huge drama, race leader Chris Froome got hunger knock and was escorted to the finish line by teammate Richie Porte and lost more than a minute to Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) but extended his lead over second-placed Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) to 5.14.

 

The Frenchmen had started to doubt that they would get that elusive stage win at their big home race, the Tour de France, but they got a just reward for their patience today. Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) won the most prestigious stage of them all as he took a huge solo win on the Alpe d'Huez.

 

The Frenchman had been part of the day's early break and managed to overtake Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) with just 2km to go. The American was unable to respond and so he soloed across the line to take his second stage win in the world's biggest race.

 

Behind, the drama was on as Chris Froome (Sky) got hunger knock and had to ask teammate Richie Porte to fall back to the team car to pick up some gels. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) sensed the opportunity and left the race leader behind, ultimately gaining a little more than a minute on the Brit. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) had even bigger difficulties and while he managed to defend his 2nd place on GC, he is now under threat from Rodriguez and Quintana in the battle for the podium spots.

 

The highly anticipated stage included two ascents of the Alpe d'Huez and a rather big peloton hit the bottom of the final climb together. Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo and Ruben Plaza set a hard tempo to set up their teammates Quintana and Alejandro Valverde for the win but as they started to climb, they were still 5.25 behind the remnants of the early break, Riblon, Van Garderen and Moreno Moser (Cannondale).

 

Riblon made an immediate attack which put Moser in difficulty. However, Van Garderen stayed in his wheel while Moser was caught by Jens Voigt (Radioshack) who had also been in the early move.

 

With 12km to go, Van Garderen attacked and Riblon dug deep to stay in his wheel. He was unable to do so and the American quickly managed to build up a gap of 30 seconds over the Franchman.

 

Behind, the Movistar riders had fallen off and it was now Peter Kennaugh (Sky) who set the pace on the lower slopes of the climb. Riders started to fall off and one of the first to get into difficulty was Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) and a little later his teammate Bauke Mollema also had to let go.

 

Valverde attacked and was joined by Igor Anton (Euskaltel) and Jose Serpa (Lampre) to form a trio that went up the road. Chris Froome was reluctant to allow that to happen and so the race leader accelerated to bridge the gap with just a select few riders in his wheel.

 

As the group slowed a little down, Porte once again took up the pace-setting and that saw the group splinter into pieces. Suddenly, the only riders left were Porte, Froome, Contador, Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff), Anton, Serpa, Valverde, Quintana, Moreno and Rodriguez. A little later, Kreuziger showed his first signs of weakness and fell off the pace.

 

A little later, Froome decided that it was time to show his strength and so he made another acceleration. He left all his rivals behind but Quintana managed to bridge the gap while Contador, Porte, Rodriguez and Valverde followed a little further behind.

 

Moreno got back to that group and he took a huge turn on the front with his leader Rodriguez in his wheel. The Katusha duo gapped their companions and moments later Rodriguez made an acceleration to get back up to Froome and Quintana.

 

The latter made his first attack but got nowhere. Behind, Valverde attacked and only Porte could respond to the acceleration. Contador and Moreno were left struggling behind.

 

Rodriguez was the next to attack and neither Quintana nor Froome could respond. The latter was now clearly in difficulty and had to dig deep to stay in Quintana's wheel. The Brit momentarily lost some ground but managed to rejoin the Colombian and gradually those two riders got back up to Rodriguez.

 

One minute behind, Kreuziger, Moreno, Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel), Serpa and Contador had formed a chase group but they kept losing ground to the three riders up ahead who had now overtaken Voigt. Porte had left Valverde behind and had rejoined the Froome group.

 

He immediately went to the front to set his usual hard tempo but Froome spoke in the radio, clearly asking his teammate to slow down. Behind, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) had bridged the gap to the Contador group in which Kreuziger did all the work.

 

The drama increased when Froome suddenly signaled to his team car for assistance. Apparently, he had got hunger knock and asked Porte to break the rules, fall back and pick up some gels at a time when it was not allowed.

 

Quintana exploted the opportunity and made an acceleration that only Rodriguez could respond to. Those two started to build up a gap while Porte now had to pace his team leader.

 

Up ahead, Riblon had been almost 40 seconds behind Van Garderen but now the American had started to fade. With two kilometres to go, the junction was made and the Frenchman made an immediate acceleration, leaving his American rival behind.

 

No one was able to catch the Ag2r rider who soloed across the line to take his second ever stage win at the Tour while Van Garderen followed almost a minute behind. Moser had not lost that much time and took a fine 3rd in his first Tour.

 

Rodriguez now made one of his trademark accelerations in an attempt to drop Quintana but instead it was the Colombian who showed strength, putting 3 seconds into the Spaniard on the line. A little more than a minute later, Porte and Froome crossed the line, doing a good job to limit the damage. Valverde followed just a few seconds later.

 

Fuglsang had attacked from the Contador group and only Nieve and Contador were able to respond. Those three riders lost 58 seconds to Froome while Kreuziger followed 15 seconds further adrift.

 

Froome may have lost time to Quintana and Rodriguez but he extended his lead over Contador to 5.11. Quintana is now 3rd at 5.32 while Kreuziger is 4th and Rodriguez 5th.

 

Froome gets another hard day in the saddle tomorrow when he is set to tackle another tough stage in the Alps. Starting at 11.00, you can follow that stage in its entirety on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

Hoogerland attacks from the gun

As expected the race's queen stage got off to a hectic start as Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) once again attacked as soon as the flag was dropped. Attacks went thick and fast for some time but as the peloton hit the bottom of the Col de Manse after 4km of racing, it was all together.

 

Saxo-Tinkoff had been very active and Jesus Hernandez was the first to get some serious ground when he went off from the bottom of the climb. Brice Feillu (Sojasun) and Kennaugh bridged the gap but it ultimately came to nothing.

 

Attacks continued and one of the most active was Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff). Froome was mostly on his own and only had Kennaugh at his side, and the race leader was unwilling to allow Rogers any leeway. Whenever the Australian accelerated, he closed it down himself.

 

Hesjedal first on the top

Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) had launched multiple attacks and the Canadian crested the summit as the lone leader. A few seconds further behind, a rather small peloton had still not slowed down while multiple groups had formed further behind. Most notably, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) who was 10th on GC, was one minute down at the top.

 

Hesjedal was caught and instead Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) accelerated on the descent. Finally, the elastic snapped and the Frenchman created the day's early move as he was joined by Riblon, Voigt, Van Garderen, Moser, Lars Boom (Belkin), Amador,Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp).

 

A huge gap

Those 9 riders were allowed to build up a huge gap as the peloton slowed completely down and allowed all riders who had fallen behind to get back on.  The gap was up to 6 minutes when they started the day's second climb.

 

Saxo-Tinkoff had missed the move and so they launched Sergio Paulinho and Nicolas Roche up the road. The duo built up a gap while Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas just rode a steady tempo on the front of the peloton. Laurent Didier (Radioshack) tried to get across but had no chance of doing so.

 

Euskaltel aggressive

A little later, Mikel Astarloza and Ruben Perez (both Euskaltel) also tried a move but Sky was unwilling to give the Saxo riders any assistance and so brought the duo back. Instead, the race settled into a steady rhythm as the two chasers were able to put 2.30 into the peloton while the front group were now more than 8 minutes ahead.

 

Stannard and Thomas continued to ride a steady tempo up the Col d'Ornon but the Saxo duo now started to fade. While the gap to the front group was relatively stable at around 8 minutes, the chasers gradually lost their slight advantage.

 

The front groups splits up

The front group split up on the descent as Voigt, Danielson, Jeannesson and Amador momentarily fell behind. However, it all came back together on the lower slopes of the Alpe d'Huez which they now started to climb for the first time. Behind, Andre Greipel beat Peter Sagen (Cannondale) in the sprint for the remaining points at the intermediate sprint.

 

Thomas and Stannard continued their pace-setting on the climb and riders now started to drop off. Surprisingly, Cadel Evans (BMC) and Martin were some of the first to lose contact. A little later, Kanstantsin Siutsou took over the pace-setting on the front.

 

Van Garderen the lone leader

Up ahead, Van Garderen attacked and only Riblon could stay in his wheel. However, he had to drop off a little later and the American rode most of the climb on his own while the group had splintered to pieces.

 

Moser had, however, kept a steady tempo and the Italian caught up with Riblon close to the top. Those two riders managed to catch Van Garderen and so a trio crested the summit as the leaders.

 

Europcar on the offensive

Behind, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Laurent Didier (Radioshack) and Wout Poels (Vacansoleil) attacked and a little later they were joined by Voeckler's teammate Pierre Rolland. Voeckler did a huge work to set up Rolland for the win while Didier fell off the pace.

 

Nieve attacked and bridged the gap while a little later Andy Schleck (Radioshack) also attacked. Getting a little assistance from Didier along the way, he also caught up with the Rolland group. Siutsou had now fallen off the pace and it was now left to David Lopez to set the pace.

 

Movistar up the pace

Voeckler fell off the pace and back into the peloton but at the top of the climb, Schleck, Rolland, Poels  and Nieve were more than a minute ahead. Lopez still set the pace as they started to climb the Col de Sarenne but a little later Plaza hit the front to signal Movistar's intentions. Hesjedal made a small attack but had no success.

 

The hard pace saw many riders drop off and one of those was Ten Dam. Up ahead, the Schleck group caught Chavanel just as they started the descent.

 

Contador attacks

The downhill section was very difficult and Kreuziger used the opportunity to launch an attack. Contador bridged to his teammate and the Saxo duo had a slight gap of a few meter while Kennaugh led the peloton.

 

Van Garderen had a mechanical while Riblon went off the road on the tricky descent and suddenly Moser was the lone leader. Riblon got back on while Van Garderen faced a long chase before finally bridging the gap before the final climb up the Alpe d'Huez.

 

Movistar show their intentions

Amador fell back to the peloton and Movistar now started to chase hard. That forced Kreuziger and Contador to stop their effort and they fell back into the peloton. Many riders rejoined the main group and Ten Dam was one of those.

 

As they headed through the valley towards the bottom of the Alpe, they picked up the Schleck group and the furious pace saw the gap come down quickly. Castroviejo, Amador and Plaza brought the gap down to 5.25 at the bottom and from then on the dramatic finale took place.

 

Result:

1 Christophe Riblon - AG2R La Mondiale 4.51.32
2 Tejay Van Garderen - BMC Racing Team 0.59
3 Moreno Moser - Cannondale 1.27
4 Nairo Quintana - Movistar 2.11
5 Joaquim Rodriguez - Katusha 2.14
6 Richie Porte - Sky 3.17
7 Chris Froome - Sky
8 Alejandro Valverde - Movistar 3.21
9 Mikel Nieve - Euskaltel-Euskadi 4.15
10 Jakob Fuglsang - Astana

 

General classification:

1 Christopher Froome - Sky Procycling 71.02.19
2 Alberto Contador Velasco - Team Saxo-Tinkoff 5.11
3 Nairo Quintana - Movistar Team 5.32
4 Roman Kreuziger - Team Saxo-Tinkoff 5.44
5 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver - Katusha 5.58
6 Bauke Mollema - Belkin Pro Cycling 8.58
7 Jakob Fuglsang - Astana 9.33
8 Michael Rogers - Team Saxo-Tinkoff 14.26
9 Michal Kwiatkowski - Omega Pharma-QuickStep 14.38
10 Alejandro Valverde - Movistar 14.56

 

Points classification:

1. Peter Sagan 380

2. Mark Cavendish 278

3. Andre Greipel 227

4. Marcel Kittel 177

5. Alexander Kristoff 157

 

Mountains classification:

1. Chris Froome 104

2. Nairo Quintana 97

3. Christophe Riblon 77

4. Mikel Nieve 63

5. Tejay Van Garderen 62

 

Youth classification:

1. Nairo Quintana 71.07.51

2. Michal Kwiatkowski +9.06

3. Andrew Talansky +10.52

 

Teams classification:

1. Team Saxo-Tinkoff  212.29.26

2. Ag2r +6.05

3. Radioshack +12.29

4. Movistar +24.33

5. Belkin +28.37

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