In head-holding Bakelants style
A stage very similar to the stage-before-last, with a large break containing quality (but no GC contenders) managing to stay away for the second half of the race (due to there being no GC contenders). This time it was the Portugese Rui Costa of Movistar, managing what Julien Simon could not: to stay away and hold off all chasers. Costa’s attack was well planned and used the climb up to Col de Manse to string out the lead bunch. On this day he was just too strong for Kloden, Riblon, Coppel, Hansen, Voeckler, and the rest. As always I was excited to see Blel Kadri in there making moves, but once again no stage win for France. Rien pour la patrie yet this Tour. Meanwhile Daryl Impey of South Africa and Kenya-born Chris Froome have worn the maillot jaune. It’s a funny world.
Here’s Costa on his ride:
Can’t imagine what it’s like to be all on your own out there, on the way to a stage victory.
Kadri and Marino on their too-early break. Kadri needs to get better about reading the race — he’s always up for a fight, just never at the right time!
The minor drama of the GC contenders in the final kilometres will probably come to nothing. It seems Contador fell on the descent (previewed as highly dangerous), and Froome was off his bike as well. Did the others speed up? Meaning Valverde, Mollema, Rodriguez, Quintana, and Kreuziger. Did they wait? Live report from letour.fr says they waited (I’d already blamed Mollema for speeding because of the Valverde incident in stage 14), but after Porte — tireless, tireless Richie Porte! — led Froome and Contador back up to the bunch, Contador flashed a sarcastic thumbs up:
At first I thought this was Latin solidarity since surely they’d heard Costa had just won the stage, but I like even better the attitude displayed. These guys aren’t buddies. Contador had attacked, nominally, four times in the final 10 km or so, so absolutely no avail. I’m hoping he’ll prove to be the rival that Froome needs to be great this coming week, although not if Froome is going to be a wuss.
The post-race squabbling is inevitable but is it really such a big deal this time? Costa’s ride was fair and square, and the GC changes only for Ten Dam, who falls a spot as Quintana gains 5th overall, and there will be bigger pain in the days to come. And unlike Valverde suffering the bad luck of a flat in stage 14, no one’s hopes for the Tour were destroyed today. Congrats, Movistar.