Chris Froome's Tour de France speciality is winning on a summit finish, the first tough mountain stage of the Tour. Well, today didn't have a summit finish, but it didn't stop him. An attack over the top of the Peyresourde saw him clear for a hair-raising descent, pedalling on the top tube while Valverde, and later Porte badly organised a chase. HIs lead increased to twenty seconds for a while, until that was nearly halved to thirteen in the final flat kilometre. Back in the group, Daniel Martin won the sprint for second, having been robbed of yellow by Froome's stage win.
This wasn't your typical mountain stage. While there was some fighting to get away in the early groups, the break that emerged only consisted of three men: Thibaut Pinot, who was looking for redemption in the form of polkadots for his loss of time yesterday, Rafał Majka, looking for a second stint in polkadots, and Tony Martin, a little incongruous-looking in the company. The trio never looked like staying away, never got any kind of gap, and indeed were recaptured, after Pinot cracked and Majka attacked, on the Col de Val Louron-Azet. Majka did achieve his objective, despite ceding the Tourmalet to the Frenchman.
It was a stage of attrition, more than anything else, with yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet shelled early, eventually losing twenty-five minutes. There were very few attacks for the peloton, as Sky, with a small amount of Movistar help ground and ground on the front, gradually dislodging more and more riders. However, there were a few jumps on the Peyresourde. Bardet gave it a go, Froome and Henao tried a 1-2, but mostly, the favourites remained together. However, something may be learned from who stuck with the attacks most easily. Froome's first attack could only be followed by the BMC pair, the Movistar pair, his team mate Henao, and Daniel Martin of Etixx. One man who couldn't follow was Alberto Contador, who was dropped at that point, coming home in seventeenth, a minute and forty-one seconds down. His team mate Kreuziger had one of the better rides of the day, finishing fifth. Pierre Rolland and Wilco Kelderman were also potential contenders who lost time — Kelderman suffered a crash after his tyre rolled off, and Rolland was cracked on the Peyresourde, before going down on the descent.
One of the things to notice about the stage was Quintana's worrying reaction to Froome's attack. He took a bottle, looked around, weaved a bit, and cried for
Mommy Valverde to chase Froome down. Their efforts were in vain, and Froome is the race's new leader as we head into Andorra tomorrow. Here's someone who probably will keep his distance.
|8.||USA||Tejay van Garderen||BMC||"|