Today's Tour de France stage saw Greg Van Avermaet, BMC, ride into Le Lorian solo and more than five minutes ahead of the next competitor Thomas De Gendt, Lotto.
It was a difficult day for the peloton as they rode the mountains of the Massive Central. The day was hot, the tarmac was melting, the distance was over 216 km and there were six peaks to conquer. The run to the finish line was uphill but wasn't given a category. Riders were in the saddle for about five and a half hours.
Two crashes occurred in the day's final descent. Serge Pauwels and Cyril Gautier were in the second break and descending a tricky patch when they both hit the pavement. They continued with their ride, but did not place in the top five cyclists.
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff, is having a bad start to the Tour. He crashed twice early in the race and sports a large bandage on his right arm. The TV commentators have speculated that he is more injured than he wants the public to know. Competitors have been known to continue in the TDF with broken bones.
Stage 5 Standings
The World Anti Doping Agency(WADA) is now in possession of 200 bags of blood that were seized when a doping scandal broke in 2006 in Spain. WADA may try to identify whose blood has been stored. The time limit for imposing any bans has passed as the limit is ten years. It would still be interesting to know who had blood stored for reintroduction before a big competition. Blood that has been stored and transfused increases the number of oxygen carrying cells and increases the body's endurance.
Fans of professional cycling were treated to a second photo finish in as many days. Today's run from Samur to Limoge challenged the sprinters at the end of more than 200 km with a brisk uphill climb before levelling off for the final dash to the finish.
Yesterday Mark Cavendish, DDD, took his 28th stage win in the Tour de France. Today it was Marcel Kittel, Etixx, that edged out a rival in the mad dash for the finish. Cavendish was not on the podium today. As the teams were organizing their final dash, he got caught up in the peloton and couldn't get into final position.
The TDF would be nothing without controversy. Today Chris Froome, Sky came under criticism from some of the sprinter including Cavendish for participating in the sprint finish. And some would allege that the GC riders imede the top sprinters.
For his part, Froome has stated that it is not his choice to ride at the front, that it is the team choice to keep him out of trouble.
Peter Sagan, Tinkoff has spoken about how dangerous the peloton has become in the six years that he has been riding the TDF. Too many reckless riders are causing accidents and injuries. To date all those that have hit the pavement have continued the race. Alberto Contador, Tinkoff, hit the deck twice in the first two days of racing.
Stage 5 will see the riders see the mountains. The 216 km will have six climbs during the run from Limoge to Le Lioran.
Stage 4 Standings
Overall Race Standings
The sprinters had been waiting for two weeks for their moment of glory and a hotly contested sprint was won by Andre Griepel, Lotto. He described it as the biggest win of his career and he is no stranger to success.
Even before the final bell on today’s race plans are being laid down for the 2016 TDF. Next year the start will be in France near Utah Beach.
Some riders will be looking for new contracts in the meantime. Some have new contracts to negotiate. Richie Porte who is currently with Sky has announced that he will be leaving that team. Speculation has it that he is moving to BMC but that cannot be confirmed at this time. Team Europcar has announced that they will not be sponsoring a professional cycling team next season.
Stage 21 Standing General Classification
1. Andre Griepel, Lotto 1. Chris Froome, Sky
2. Bryan Coquard, Europcar 2. Nairo Quintana, Movistar
3. Alexander Kristoff, Katusha 3. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar
4. Edvald Boassen Hagen, Qhubeka 4. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
5. Arnaud Demare, FDJ 5. Alberto Contador, Tinkoff
198 riders started the three week race, 160 finished it.
For excellent background information on the Tour de France both VeloNews and Le Tour are good sources.
Stage 19 Standings General Classification
1. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana 1. Chris Froome, Sky
2. Nairo Quintana, Movistar 2. Nairo Quintana, Movistar
3. Chris Froome, Sky 3. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar
4. Thibaut Pinot, FDJ 4. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
5. Romain Bardet, AG2R 5. Alberto Contador, Tinkoff
There are other races than the final GC status. The best young rider award is given to the rider under aged 25 years. It looks as if Nairo Quintana will continue to claim that status. Peter Sagan, Tinkoff, looks to be continuing in the green jersey of most points accrued. Romain Bardet and Chris Froome will have to duke it out tomorrow on the slopes of the Alps for King of the Mountain and Team Movistar looks as if it has a lock on the top team classification.
It has been traditional that the peloton comes together in companionship on the 21st day of the race. The GC riders traditionally do not compete against one another. That does not mean that it is a ho hum stage. Once the mob reaches Paris, the pace quickens and the sprinters jockey for position to be the first to cross the finish line. With the cobble stones on the Champs d’Elysees rattling the skinny tires on the racing bikes, the unexpected is to be expected.
For full statistics and background try Le Tour and VeloNews
The long swoop down the Col du Glandon which took a fraction of the time to climb it, looked scary to someone who used to apply the brakes on little hills, but former cycling star Jens Vogt said on the TV coverage that it was not bad at all and that at least the riders, “Don’t risk falling down the cliff edge.”
After the descent of the Col du Glandon, the pack had a seventh climb to the finish. It was only 3.5 km of climbing compressed into 17 switchbacks.
Stage 18 Standings General Classification
1. Romain Bardet, AG2R 1. Chris Froome, Sky
2. Pierre Roland, Europcar 2. Nairo Quintana, Movistar
3. Winner Anacona, Movistar 3. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar
4. Bob Jungles, Trek 4. Geraint Thomas, Sky
5. Jakob Fulsand, Astana 5. Alberto Contador, Tinkoff
Stage 19 they do it all again Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles.
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