Monday, September 27, 2021
HomeRaceRace ReviewsLe Tour de France 2014 - Stage 13; Saint-Étienne - Chamrousse, 200...

Le Tour de France 2014 – Stage 13; Saint-Étienne – Chamrousse, 200 km. Vincenzo Nibali scores a Third

-

Vincenzo Nibali

The third stage win from Vincenzo Nibali today – but first; I have a friend in Dallas, Texas – no, not him! – who regularly exchanges views with me on cycling, what else?

He sent an email to me last night after the Tour’s first day in the Alps;

‘Nibali? An old Baseball manager was famous for quotes like; “when you come to a fork in the road take it,” and the most famous one; “it’s déjà vu all over again!”

‘That’s what I’m wondering when I see Vincenzo ride everybody into the ground. Are we going to have a déjà vu eventually? Does Kazakhstan have some secret, rejuvenating and power giving water wells? A decade or so ago, I’ve would not have given this topic a second thought.’

It’s like my amigo says, 10 years ago we’d have been knocked out by Nibali’s riding – now we question.

Vincenzo Nibali
Nibali makes it look very easy. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

It’s not a case of cynicism or love of the ‘D-word’ gossip, it’s just that we were fooled for so long and so comprehensively that if a rider is dominating in the fashion of ‘The Shark’ then one does wonder – it’s impossible not to.

That said there’s another parallel track in my brain which runs along the lines of the fact that the man has slowly been coming to the boil for a dozen years, since the days of his win in the Italian Junior Road race Championships in 2002.

His progression has been steady and very solid; Grand Tour top 20’s then a podium in the Giro, a win in the Vuelta, a win in the Giro and now le Tour seems his to lose.

But that said, you always have to remember what I said in a preview I did for this 2014 Tour de France;

“And one slightly scary stat is that in the years I’ve followed cycling, eight riders have exited the race whilst wearing yellow – for one reason or another – Luis Ocana, Michel Pollentier, Bernard Hinault, Pascal Simon, Rolf Sorensen, Stephane Heulot, Chris Boardman and Michael Rasmussen. Like the song says; ‘it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

The other factors which come in to play when observing Nibali’s dominance are that his two main challengers, Froome and Contador are languishing at home with broken bones – and the fact that with a 54 kilometre time trial to come he needs time in the bank.

Those 54 K through the Dordogne could be his ‘jour sans’ and he needs a buffer – cast your mind back to Riis’s Tour ‘win’ in 1996 and remember the seemingly invulnerable Dane gasping, rocking and rolling his way through the final test as young team Jan Ulrich carved chunks of time out of him?

And it’s not as if the Sicilian is on ‘another planet’ his gains are well thought out and surgical in their precision.

In addition, his team are definitely not ‘clockwork soldiers’ – when they’re done, they’re done, with Westra ‘parking up’ at the foot of yesterdays final climb and Kangert similarly engaging reverse gear when his job was done on the climb.

Ok, enough already about Vincenzo!

Vincenzo Nibali
Gadret paced Valverde very well. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

Alejandro Valverde is a pro I admire; he’s an attacking rider, a presence all year and races hard – usually…

But not yesterday, his wheel hanging, stop/start riding when riding with the young Frenchman Pinot was selfish at worst, bizarre at best.

Carlton wittered and made his usual inane jokey comments about Valverde’s antics but Sean stated bluntly and with annoyance in his voice; ‘this is not the way to ride!’

Damn right, Sean.

Valverde’s Movistar wing man, cyclocrosser turned mountain elf John Gadret was hugely impressive in his tempo riding on the climb and did much of the damage to the lead group.

However, as I looked at the swaying jewellery around Gadret and Valverde’s necks I was reminded of what legendary Spanish – but now disgraced – team manager Manolo Saiz told Johan Bruyneel back in the days the now demonized Belgian rode for Saiz’s Once team.

It was coming round to the start of a mountain time trial and Bruyneel was wearing a selection of gold around his neck which would have been a credit to any Detroit rapper; Saiz took one look at it and told Bruyneel; ‘do you think I spend fortunes getting us the lightest bikes in the peloton so you can put all that scrap metal around your neck – get that off!’

Vincenzo Nibali
Thibaut Pinot is really looking like the star he has promised to be for quite a while now. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

The French: Gallopin may have gone but Bardet, Pinot and Peraud are all there in third, fourth and sixth spot, respectively.

It was great to see Pinot’s F des J boys riding tempo into the climb with real purpose and to see their leader demonstrate that their efforts weren’t just for show.

Vincenzo Nibali
Romain Bardet now sees a podium spot as possible. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

It’s too much too early to label Bardet and Pinot potential Tour winners, but both qualify as ‘young riders’ and have five or six more Tours before they reach their very best – fast cars, night clubs, leggy models and the French Media willing, that is.

Ah yes, the Media – Richie Porte went in to the first Alpine Stage; ‘with a very real opportunity to consolidate his second place overall – and to perhaps even challenge Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali for the Tour title,’ according to Cyclingnews.

‘Really?’ I thought to myself.

My take was that if Porte could limit his losses in the mountains then there was an opportunity for him in the final time test to challenge for the podium.

But within hours the Tasmanian went from ‘challenger’ to footnote @ 8:48 – that’s Show Biz!

Vincenzo Nibali
Geraint Thomas lloked to be suffering in the heat today too, but did what he could to help Porte. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

It’s been ‘one of those races’ for Sky – as surely as the stars have aligned for Nibali the Heavens have not been kind to the men in black and blue.

But Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte are talented riders – perhaps it’s good that Porte’s overall chances have gone and now they can have realistic stage win ambitions rather than all of that ‘tactical GC stuff?’

Talansky may have gone but Van Garderen looks to be coming nicely to form for the USA after his early encounters with the macadam.

Vincenzo Nibali
Alessandro de Marchi is showing up nearly every day in this Tour. Photo©B.Bade/ASO

However, Jurgen Van Den Broeck is going to have his work cut out to make the podium with Tejay and the young Frenchmen riding as they are.

Whichever way you look at it though, another great day of racing – Vive le Tour!

A demain.

Martin Williamson
Martin is our Editor, Web site Designer and Manager, and concentrates on photography. He's been involved in cycling for over 42 years and has raced for many of them, having a varied career which includes time trials, road and track racing, and triathlons. Martin has been the Scottish 25 Mile TT and 100 Mile TT Champion, the British Points Race League Champion on the track, and was a prolific winner of time trials in his day, particularly hilly ones like the Tour de Trossachs and the Meldons MTT.

Related Articles

Le Tour de France 2016 – Stage 9; Vielha Val d’Aran – Andorre Arcalis. Dumoulin Solos to Victory

Tom Dumoulin tests to solo glory in Andorra; Pinot goes poids; Froome consolidates jaune; Porte confuses; Martin rises to another level; Yates confirms; Aru and Tejay slide whilst Quintana waits – but it’s over for Alberto. But all that said - no real changes from yesterday and the Bigs only race the last few kilometres...

The famous Tour de France Roadbook

We often hear about how the riders at the Tour de France study "the Roadbook" to learn the final kilometres of a particular stage, or to identify which stage may be "the one" to go for, but what exactly does the Tour de France Roadbook contain, who uses it, and how useful is it, really? Published by ASO each year a few weeks before the Prologue and in several languages, the Roadbook is also known as the race "bible".

A Hard “Easy” Day: TdF Stage 10 (breakaway)

A Hard "Easy" Day. Yesterday was always going to be the day that the breakaway succeeded. The profile of the course and the stages on the days either side of it meant that neither the GC nor the sprinter teams would be interested. It wasn’t hard enough to separate the GC lads, but wasn’t easy enough for the sprinters to make it to the finish with the main bunch.

Back to Bunchies (Preview: TDF 2012 Stage 13)

Back to Bunchies - we’ve had a full week since the mad dog sprinters have had a chance to shine, and I would be astonished if we had to wait another day to see them all go head to head for the win.

Le Tour de France 2007 – Day 2: Stage 13, Albi Time Trial

Albi Time Trial. It was midnight last night when we found the hotel. The centre of Toulouse is just one enormous road work and it transpired we had been about 50 yards from the place on half a dozen occasions but the "rue barre" signs had foiled us. Sleep came easily, and I had a great dream about 70's soul singer, Betty Wright. The only thing was that she kept morphing from Afro-haired black soul goddess to a white woman with lank blond hair - I'll have to ask my analyst about that one.

Rest Day 1… Where We’ve Been (TDF 2012), and Tyler Farrar

We’re at the first rest day already! And it feels like the race is well on it’s way to being decided. Each day I’ve spoken about what has specifically happened in the race, and my perspective on that. We shall see where things head hence in the next fortnight, but firstly, let’s look at some of my favourite bits thus far, including Tyler Farrar.

At Random

Tom Southam – Rapha-Condor Press Officer, Ex-Pro and Author

Over the last year or so, Tom Southam has made the move from Rapha-Condor rider to team press officer – and we’ve been seeing his by-line more and more in the pages of ‘Rouleur’ magazine. We thought a word would be in order.

Micheal Wilson – Aussie Giro Stage Winner in the 80’s

‘Lockdown’ does have benefits. The big advantage for me is that I have time to catch up with riders who it’s long overdue I should speak to. One such rider is Australia’s Micheal Wilson, a winner of Grand Tour stages and Italian races of quality. Micheal was at home in Tasmania with a glass of his own Pinot Grigio to hand – Micheal is still involved in wine production – when I called and asked him to stroll down memory lane with me...

Team Astana Training in Spain

On a cold morning in the town of Javea on the East coast of Spain a bunch of cyclists look at their new bikes for the coming year. This group are a mix of Team Astana and Discovery Channel riders that next season will become the new Team Astana and the man at the helm, Johan Bruyneel, has the job of welding these two distinctly different elements into one super team and with Tour winner Alberto Contador leading the charge it should be another successful season for the man that was behind Lance.

Conor Henry – no one expected the 21 year-old from Belfast to win the 1992 Milk Race

The 12 day, 13 stage British ‘Milk Race’ of 1992 was a pro-am affair with Belgian hard men Collstrop – who won four stages including the opening TTT; talented home pros from Banana-Met; the Danish National squad; the Belgian National team; a squad form CIS, the Commonwealth of Independent States – formerly the Soviet Union and the Netherlands National team to name but seven. And a team from Ireland; but no one expected 21 year-old Conor Henry from Belfast to defy some of the best riders in Europe to take final victory. Here’s his story...

The VV View: That Was the Week…

"A week is a long time in politics," said Harold Wilson - even longer at the wheel of a Transit; still, I'm sure that my column in L'Equipe isn't far away, now. Lombardia was great, I love that race, and Milan - San Remo too; do yourself a favour, go and see them - you'll thank me. However, all is not well up in the land of mountains and lakes.

Ton Merckx – Collecting Team Jerseys for Over 30 Years

When a man named Merckx emails us from The Netherlands and tells us that he likes our website and that he has a collection of 2,300 plus cycling jerseys, we have to pay attention, right?