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“I went easy in the end to conserve energy. It made no sense to go hard with the break up the road. Sky chased them to within five minutes but then efforts were over."

Photo: A.S.O.

JOAQUIM RODRIGUEZ OLIVER

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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18.07.2015 @ 20:29 Posted by Andy Pedersen

The fourteenth stage of the 2015 Tour de France turned out to be the first challenge for the final podium positions as the race moves into the final week of racing, with Nairo Quintana of Movistar making the most gains. While the Colombian rider lost 1-second on the general classification to leader Chris Froome (Team Sky), he jumped over BMC’s Tejay van Garderen to settle into second place by 22-seconds to the American rider. The battle for the podium was in full flight on the Côte de la Croix Neuve.

 

Team Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez won in Mende in 2010 but with the break clear for the victory, the team leader chose look ahead to the upcoming Alpine stages next week.

 

“I went easy in the end to conserve energy. It made no sense to go hard with the break up the road. Sky chased them to within five minutes but then efforts were over. Of course I will try to do something again in the Alps, but it’s not as easy as asking permission from the peloton to go and being able to do it on command,” said Joaquim Rodriguez.

 

“This was a perfect finish for Joaquim, but of course there was a breakaway. We tried to go in the break – for the first 45 minutes of racing it was really crazy and full gas right from the beginning. At one moment we had Losada and Caruso in the front but that group was brought back and an attack came from another group. So we tried because we knew it was a good chance for the breakaway to survive, but we ended up not making it. Later when we saw this break would survive, it was best for Joaquim to back off and save energy for another day. Sky did some chasing but it’s best for us to save some legs for tomorrow for Kristoff and of course the upcoming Alps. You can’t expend energy every day or at some moment there will be nothing left. We’re focusing on another stage win and tomorrow could be good for Alex,” said team director José Azevedo.

 

Saturday’s stage at 178,5 km began in Rodez and rode through the Tarn Gorge before the uphill finish in Mende. From the day’s break, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) pulled away on the climb with 4 km to go and looked solid for the win, but a motivated attack from Steve Cummings saw the former track rider catch Bardet and then solo away for the win, giving wild card team MTN-Qhubeka their first victory in their first Tour de France. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) took second place at 2-seconds and Bardet held on for third at 3-seconds off the winning time of 4:23.43.

 

Attacks from Quintana were covered every time by yellow jersey Chris Froome who was quick on the wheel of the crafty Colombian. Froome kept his first place position and now leads the 102nd Tour de France by 3.10 to Quintana and 3.32 to van Garderen.

Stage 15 on Sunday should be one for the sprinters. The stage begins in today’s finish town of Mende and ends with a fast run-in to Valence at 183 km.

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