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"I must thank my team-mate Peter. It's him who made me get into that small group. He has acted like a real gentleman. He put himself at my service. But I needed a bigger advantage and a bit more legs in the finale."

Photo: Sirotti






19.07.2014 @ 22:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Inspired by his win on the same climb in last year's Criterium du Dauphiné, Alessandro De Marchi went on the attack in today's big mountain stage of the Tour de France and for the second day in a row he was awarded the prize for being the most aggressive rider. Having been supported by his teammate Peter Sagan in the break, he praised the Slovakian for his efforts.


With three long mountain climbs on the parcours, it would be understandable if the Tour de France rolled easily out of Grenoble on the 177km road to Risoul. The road is pretty much uphill all the way to the start of the first mountain. But racing was the opposite.


Attacks started the moment kilometer zero was crossed. Riders were getting dropped. The peloton was splitting, and chaos reigned in the pack.


The reason was that lots of riders wanted in on the early escape. Cannondale Pro Cycling had two riders in the break of seventeen. Peter Sagan and Alessandro De Marchi were there and contributing heavily. Each had his own goal for the day. Sagan was looking to win the intermediate sprint and extend his lead in the points competition. De Marchi, while fatigued from yesterday’s effort, was thinking about his victory atop Risoul last year, when it was the stage finish in the Criterium du Dauphine race.


Sagan won the intermediate sprint without any challenge. The rest of the group was thinking of the escape.


Majka won by 24 seconds over Nibali, with Peraud just behind in third. Second-placed Valverde had a bad day, and just barely saved his position in the overall. De Marchi finished 32nd, 6:55 down on Majka. But he won, for the second day in a row, Le Prix de la Combativité, the most aggressive rider award.


After collecting his prize, De Marchi revealed that his riding was not premeditated.


“Today my plan wasn't to enter the breakaway," he said. "I must thank my team-mate Peter. It's him who made me get into that small group. He has acted like a real gentleman. He put himself at my service. But I needed a bigger advantage and a bit more legs in the finale. Today I felt the fatigue I accumulated yesterday.


"Also today I achieved only half of what I wanted. I should have put all my eggs in the same basket and do only one stage at the front but it's too easy to say that now. There's still one week to go and we'll continue to try and win a stage.”


Sagan now has a 170-point lead in the Points Competition, which is a pretty firm grasp on the Green Jersey. He was happy to help his teammate today.


“I didn’t want to go to the breakaway, but, because my teammate, De Marchi, wants the breakaway, I wanted to help. I told him to stay behind me and I could do something for him. Tomorrow…I’ll think about tomorrow tomorrow.”


Tomorrow, the race offers up a largely downhill stage fro Tallard to Nimes. While the 222km course is “easy” in terms of terrain, the wind and riders starting to get desperate for a stage win could make this a nervous day. While the finish doesn’t favor Sagan, the Cannondale Pro Cycling certainly won’t be averse to trying. The Tour is but once a year, and with a rest day Monday, they might as well leave it all on the road.



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