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Irishman finishes off aggressive Garmin showing by outsprinting Fuglsang at the end of a hugely dramatic day that saw Froome get isolated and Porte lose more than 17 minutes

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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DANIEL MARTIN

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EF EDUCATION - EASYPOST

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JAKOB FUGLSANG

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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07.07.2013 @ 16:19 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) beat Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in a two-man sprint at the end of the final Pyrenean stage of this year's Tour de France that ended up being much more dramatic that most had been expected. Despite being isolated after less than 40km of racing, Chris Froome (Sky) overcame the team's collapse to defend his leader's jersey while his teammate Richie Porte lost more than 17 minutes to move far down the overall GC.

 

24 hours can make a huge difference in the world of cycling. Yesterday Chris Froome and Richie Porte had finished off an impressive work by their Sky team to move into the top 2 positions on GC and the British team appeared to be invincible. Today Froome was isolated after less than 40km of racing and while he managed to defend his lead, his teammate Porte fell completely out of GC contention.

 

The big winner was Daniel Martin who exploited the tactical battle between Saxo-Tinkoff, Movistar and Froome to attack on the day's final climb. Joined by Jakob Fuglsang, the Irishman held off the yellow jersey group and outsprinted his Danish companion to take the first Irish stage win for more than 20 years.

 

The second Pyrenean stage had not been expected to produce any big differences on GC. Despite the presence of 5 big mountains, a long 30km descent into a headwind was expected to kill all attacks from the GC riders and instead the breakaway artists hoped to excel.

 

Hence, the race was off to an extremely aggressive start. From the gun, Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) put down the hammer and started off a heap of attacks that made for a very fast start to the race.

 

Peter Sagan, Philippe Gilbert, Sylvain Chavanel, Pierre Rolland and Tejay Van Garderen were some of the riders to try their hand but especially Garmin were extremely aggressive. Fittingly, the first riders to get a noticeable gap were David Millar and Jack Bauer, both riding for the American team.

 

However, that did not calm down the action and riders kept getting off the front as they hit the bottom of the day's first climb, the Col de Portet d'Aspet. Many riders joined from behind as Igor Anton (Euskaltel), Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin), Tom Danielson (Garmin), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Martin, Ruben Plaza (Movistar), Tony Gallopin (Radioshack) were just some of the riders who entered a very large front group.

 

Hesjedal's attack had created some drama. Sky had been riding in control on the front of the peloton when the Canadian set off and as he passed the British formation, he tangled with Peter Kennaugh, thus bringing down one of Froome's most crucial domestiques. Having hurt his shoulder, he spent some time standing on the ground and Sky chose to let some of their team riders wait for the young Manxman.

 

The drama really unfolded up ahead when Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who had started the day 3rd overall, suddenly moved into the front group. Froome had no teammates at his side and so he had to make an acceleration to close down the move, splintering the peloton completely in the process.

 

Riders were now all over the road and amidst the chaos Cadel Evans (BMC) who had already fallen a little bit behind, had a bike change. The Australian lost substantial ground and faced a long hard chase to get back on while the attacks continued to go off the front.

 

Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ) soloed clear over the top and was the lone leader on the descent. He was later joined by Steve Morabito (BMC), Ion Izagirre (Euskaltel), Danielson and Yury Trofimov (Katusha) in a move that gained a little ground.

 

However, many riders were not satisfied with the composition of that group and as soon as they started to climb the Colde Menté, attacks once again went off in both sides of the road. Hesjedal was once again one of the most aggressive while Mikel Nieve (Euskaltel) also tried his hand.

 

Porte had now returned to the yellow jersey group and the Australian now set a furious tempo to try to keep everything under control . When Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) accelerated, he did, however, not have an answer and instead Froome had to close the move down by himself while Porte fell behind.

 

Movistar sensed Sky's vulnerability and they send Rui Costa off the front but Froome made sure that he got nowhere. Instead, it was Jesus Hernandez (Saxo-Tinkoff) who drove the group in an attempt to distance Froome's teammates. Trofimov and Danielson had now left their companions behind and they were joined by Hesjedal, Igor Anton (Euskaltel) and Rolland on the descent.

 

The quintet started to build up a gap as Valverde himself led the peloton down the descent. He stopped his effort as they hit the only flat part of the stage and that was when Froome really was in trouble.

 

Costa attacked and that started off another series of attacks. One of the riders to join the move was Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff), 6th overall, and suddenly a very big group had formed in between the 5 leaders and the Froome group.

 

Froome was now suddenly forced to chase on his own if he did not want to hand Kreuziger, Costa, Andrew Talansky (Garmin), Martin and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r) too much of an advantage but he decided to wait for his teammates who fought hard in a big group 2 minutes behind to get back on. Up ahead, Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar) was also part of the big chase group and he really put down the hammer to drive the move ahead.

 

The peloton had now come to a standstill and Evans was one of several riders to bridge the gap. That was when Valverde saw his chance to go off the front and he attacked with his teammate Plaza.

 

Froome was quick to react and the trio set off in pursuit of the big group ahead. Castroviejo fell back to assist his captain which bridged the gap to the group just as it had caught the front quintet. Castroviejo and Plaza set a really hard pace to allow their captain to gain as much time as possible.

 

Saxo-Tinkoff were now on the back foot and so they asked Kreuziger and Michael Rogers to fall back to the group of Alberto Contador and hard work by the riders of the Danish team saw it all come back together when 96km still remained. The Sky group was, however, still chasing desperately more than 2 minutes behind.

 

Rolland and Hesjedal used the opportunity to attack and they were later joined by Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) and Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Belisol), Young Romain Bardet (Ag2r) also bridged the gap to form a front quintet that should be the day's most long-lasting escape.

 

Jan Bakelants (Radioshack), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) and Arthur Vichot (FDJ) also got clear from the main peloton which was led by Saxo-Tinkoff. As soon as they hit the Col de Peyresourde, Movistar took over and Andrey Amador did an outstanding job to gradually whittle down the main group.

 

Bakelants left his companions behind - Vichot and Geschke were quickly picked up by the peloton - and he managed to gain contact with the front quintet from which De Gendt kept falling off the pace before once again regaining contact. At the top of the climb, he even found the resources to take maximum points ahead of Rolland but as soon as they had crested the summit, he fell back into the peloton.

 

Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) had bridged the gap to the main group on the climb, and the Australian apparently still felt fresh and so he attacked just before the summit. He managed to join the leaders on the descent and even left them behind to become the sole leader of the race.

 

Behind, the Porte group had splintered and he was now only supported by Kennaugh as the duo fought hard to get back up. For most of the time, the time gap remained at around 2 minutes.

 

As the peloton hit the bottom of the penultimate climb, the Col de Val Louron-Azet, Hesjedal fell off the pace of the front group and quickly returned to the peloton. Bakelants also had to give up and despite a long chase on his own, he was also eventually caught by the main group which was now led by an outstanding Castroviejo all the way up the climb.

 

The pace in the peloton was not overly high and so many riders managed to rejoin that group. Riders who had been with Porte a little earlier got back on but the Australian had not bridged the gap himself. He had now left Kennaugh behind and for a moment, he appeared to be getting back on. However, he suddenly ran out of steam and a few kilometres from the top, he suddenly exploded completely.

 

After the climb, Clarke was caught by Rolland, De Clercq and Bardet and the quintet worked hard to keep the peloton at bay. However, Castroviejo did an outstanding job to bring down the gap to just 10 seconds at the bottom of the day's final climb, the La Hourquette d'Ancizan.

 

Sensing the danger, Bardet attacked and left his former companions behind while Rolland and later also De Clercq and Clarke were all caught by the peloton which was now led by an outstanding Plaza. The Spaniard's hard tempo gradually whittled down the group which now only consisted of around 20 riders.

 

5km from the top Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked but Froome was quick to respond. That saw the group come to a standstill and Martin saw his chance. He attacked while a little later Fuglsang tried a similar move.

 

Nieve also took off but Froome had no fear for those riders, thus allowing them to set off. When Quintana attacked again, he was, however, quick to respond and the Colombia got nowhere.

 

Quintana made a third acceleration, passing Nieve in the process, but did still not gain any ground. Meanwhile, Fuglsang had joined Martin to form a very strong front duo.

 

Kreuziger now set the pace in the peloton which only consisted of Froome, Quintana, Valverde, Moreno, Mollema, Ten Dam, Schleck, Rodriguez, Nieve, Poels Kreuizger, Peraud, Evans, Serpa and Dupont. Quintana made a fourth and final attack that saw Serpa, Moreno and Dupont fall behind. The latte two managed to get back on while Morabito, Costa, Daniel Navarro (Cofidis), Robert Gesink (Belkin) and Maxime Monfort (Radioshack) also regained contact.

 

Once again, it was Kreuziger who upped the pace in the peloton but that did not prevent Poels from putting in an attack. He crested the summit of the climb 30 seconds behind the leading duo while the peloton was another 15 seconds behind.

 

Movistar sensed a stage win opportunity for Valverde and so Costa and Quintana started to chase into the headwind on the descent. They were later joined by Gesink - who worked to set up Mollema for the sprint - and Morabito - working for Evans. They caught Poels and at one point, the gap to the front dup was only 20 seconds.

 

That was, however, when it started to come back up and when Martin and Fuglsang still had 40 seconds on their chasers with 2km to go, they knew that they would sprint for the stage win. Martin refused to go back to the front when the passed the flamme rouge and so the Dane was forced to remain ahead of the Irishman.

 

The Garmin rider opened his sprint with 300m to go and from then on, he did never look back. He took a convincing win ahead of Fuglsang while Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) who had regained contact with the peloton on the descent, narrowly edged out Daniel Moreno (Katusha) to take 3rd.

 

Froome finished safely in the main group to defend his yellow jersey while Porte lost more than 17 minutes. The Brit will now have a rest day to recover from today's efforts before his jersey defence continues with a mostly flat stage in Bretagne on Tuesday.

 

Starting at 14.00 you can follow that stage on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

Result:

1. Daniel Martin 4.43.03

2. Jakob Fuglsang

3. Michal Kwiatkowski +0.20

4. Daniel Moreno

5. Joaquin Rodriguez

6. Cadel Evans

7. Wout Poels

8. Bauke Mollema

9. Daniel Navarro

10. Maxime Monfort

 

General classification:

1. Chris Froome 36.59.18

2. Alejandro Valverde +1.25

3. Bauke Mollema +1.44

4. Laurens Ten Dam +1.50

5. Roman Kreuziger +1.51

6. Alberto Contador

7. Nairo Quintana +2.02

8. Daniel Martin +2.28

9. Joaquin Rodriguez +2.31

10. Rui Costa +2.45

 

Points classification:

1. Peter Sagan 234

2. Andre Greipel 141

3. Mark Cavendish 128

4. Alexander Kristoff 111

5. Michal Kwiatkowski 90

 

Mountains classification:

1. Pierre Rolland 49

2. Chris Froome 33

3. Richie Porte 28

4. Nairo Quintana 26

5. Mikel Nieve 21

 

Youth classification:

1. Nairo Quintana 37.01.20

2. Michal Kwiatkowski +1.23

3. Romain Bardet +5.07

4. Andrew Talansky +7.33

5. Thibaut Pinot +29.29

 

Teams classification:

1. Movistar 110.11.29

2. Team Saxo-Tinkoff  +4.11

3. Belkin +5.22

4. Ag2r +8.07

5. Radioshack +14.07

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