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Le Tour de France 2013 – Stage 20: Annecy > Annecy – Semnoz, 125km. The Bigs Battle It Out

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Le Tour de France

Whilst we did muse over the possibility as we supped our McDonald’s coffee this morning, I was unprepared for it actually happening. What I’m talking about is the setting of Alberto Contador’s sun – both Quintana and Rodriguez distanced him on the very last climb of the 2013 Tour de France to Semnoz to elbow him off the podium.

I thought he’d resist Rodriguez, at least.

But no, both of them combined to push Alberto off the podium – his natural habitat for the last decade.

The end of an era.

Semnoz
Bert slipped of the podium today – have we seen the end of an era? Photo©Martin Williamson

He was the best stage race rider of his generation and one of just a handful of riders to win all three Grand Tours – joining Anquetil, Gimondi, Merckx and Hinault.

Enough said.

If Froome can maintain the raging fire of desire inside him then he’s set to take over Contador’s crown.

But that’s a big ‘if’ – last season Bradley Wiggins was unstoppable.

However that was last year and, ‘the force was strong’ – it’s apparent that his motivation just isn’t the same for 2013.

Froome is a very different character to Wiggins and it’s not difficult to imagine him wanting to win five Tours to join the Greats.

But if he takes that route then it’s unlikely he can ever win a Giro or Vuelta – unless he gives le Tour a ‘by.’

If any further proof was needed that the Giro/Tour or Tour/Vuelta ‘double’ is no longer a viable proposition then check out Cadel Evans position on the GC.

The two Giro and Tour have very different characters but share the fact that the main protagonists have built their whole year around those 23 days.

There simply isn’t time to recover, build up and peak between the Giro/Tour or Tour/Vuelta.

Semnoz
Rodriguez rode hard to ensure his place on the Tour podium. Photo©Ed Hood

Albeit, if you have strong motivation, the Giro/Vuelta ‘double’ is possible – ask Rodriguez.

Quintana is the sensation of the race, a stage, second on GC, best young rider and king of the mountains – wow!

But it’s too early to announce him as the second coming – does the name Andy Schleck ring some bells?

Second in the Giro at an early age, a Tour win at the expense of Contador and since then?

Nada.

Being the left field player coming in with no weight of expectation is one thing.

Semnoz
Romain Kreuziger seems to perform better without the expectation that comes with being the team leader. Photo©Martin Williamson

Dealing with that weight of expectation from the Media and sponsors going in to a Grand Tour is another.

And Rodriguez demands respect, determinedly edging his way back up the standings to make him one of a very few riders to make the podium in all three Grand Tours.

Valverde was strong again, today – there’s little doubt that had he not been caught out in the day of the cross winds then he’d have been a challenger.

And take note of Andrew Talansky’s name – it’s not so long ago he was riding as an amateur for the California Giant team in the USA.

He was right there, today and it would be no surprise to see him on a Grand Tour podium, next year.

Semnoz
Andrew Talansky has been prominent in this race. Photo©Martin Williamson

And all of France owes a ‘merci‘ to Christophe Riblon for his splendid win on l’Alpe.

Had it not been for the AG2R man then it would have been a disastrous Tour for the home nation.

Tommy Voeckler just hasn’t been himself; Thibaut Pinot bailed out; Brice Feillu is anonymous; Chava isn’t the Chava of old and whilst Rolland tried hard yesterday, he’s not the same rider he was in 2009.