ysobelle: (Kayli)
[personal profile] ysobelle
Stage 14: Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes, 208.5km

Yesterday was a time trial. They’re fascinating and exciting to watch, but they’re really not terribly awesome to read about. It really is a matter of “get on your bike, go that way really fast for an hour, try to go faster than the last guy.” The stage was won by Tom Dumoulin— who won that stage in the hailstorm, if you’ll remember—but only a few seconds behind him was Chris Froome, proving that he really is worthy of wearing the Maillot Jaune.

It was also a somber day. The riders all woke up to the news of what had happened in Nice, and all of them, especially the French riders, were deeply affected. Furthermore, many of the foreign riders have homes in France, too. This is home to a large portion of the peloton. There had been talk about cancelling the stage, but in the end, of course, it went on. It’s the only way. So the day started with a moment of silence before the depart, and the jersey presentations at the end were done quietly, and all at once, as opposed to one winner after the other, with the accompanying pomp and cheer they usually entail. There was another moment of silence, and when it was over, first Chris Froome, and then all the other riders, silently laid their bouquets down at the front of the stage while gendarmes in the crowd saluted. It was chilling.

Today, there’s been a breakaway at the 30km mark. Four riders: Jeremy Roy, Cesare Benedetti, Alex Howes, and Martin Elmiger. It’s mostly a calm day, but there’s been a crash off-camera. Five or six riders went down. Sounds like a rider somehow went into the back of a team car, and there was a pileup. Most of them are back up and back in, except for a Cannondale rider, Matti Breschel.

Which reminds me— remember the crash a couple of days ago where Simon Gerrans went down on a curve, with three Sky riders following like dominoes? The Sky riders were okay, but poor Gerrans snapped his collarbone. Not only is he out of the race, obviously, but he’s also out of the Olympics. He must be gutted.

Ah, dammit. Breschel is out of the race. He left blood on the road— was loaded into a stretcher and raced off to the hospital, moaning in pain. Broken leg? G-d. That’s not how you want to see anyone leave this race. Christ. We’re down to 185 now. Later report: a rider, Dani Navarro, swerved in front of a team car, which had to slam on its brakes. Breschel and a few other riders went straight into the back of the car, even smashing a tail light. I hope he heals quickly.

There was an intermediate sprint today. Benedetti won it, taking 1500 euros for his team. Not bad. The peloton came to sweep up the rest, from fifth place on: Sagan, Kittel, Cavendish. But they’re not done: this will be a sprint finish today at the end.

25km to go. There’s some stiff wind out there. Has been all day, causing the race to start 15 minutes early today. The break is down to less than half a minute ahead. They’ll be caught soon, but hey, they led for 163km so far. They’re all out on wide, open flatlands, so the peloton can see its prey.

Oooo— looks like Alex Howes has been dropped from the breakaway. He's done a hell of a job for a guy who was involved in a pretty nasty crash a few days ago.

A sharp right turn directly into a headwind. That’ll be fun. There’s the catch of Howes. Good job, mate!

Cofidis and BMC and Dimension Data are on the front of the peloton now, getting their sprinters in position. 10km banner crossed. There are crazy winds at the finish.

Another attack in the front group— Elmiger turns on the jets— and now Cesare Benedetti has been dropped. Just Roy and Elmiger left now. Benedetti all but sits up, taking a drink off his water bottle as the peloton swallows him.

There’s a lot of talk in the front of the peloton right now, and it doesn’t look calm. I think it’s a lot of “You take your turn!” “No, YOU take your turn!” Frank Schlek is up there, which is pretty amazing, considering he had a flat half a minute ago and had to stop for his team car.

Holy cow. Long shot from the helicopter is showing big clumps of riders falling back all down the road as the peloton bears down with ever-increasing speed. Up front, Elmiger and Roy shake hands, knowing their demise has come, five minutes from the end.

Oh, DAMN! Two riders have gone right off the road and into the grass on the verge— but they haven’t gone down! They’re back on safely.

Etixx is on the front for Marcel Kittel, lining up their leadout train. But now Lotto takes over as they pass under the Flamme Rouge!

Greipel and Coquard are up in good positions, Cav in third— no! He pulls out from behind Kittel, and WHAM! Cav has taken another win! He holds up four fingers— his fourth stage win! His thirtieth Tour de France stage win overall!

Kristoff, Saga, Degenkolb take the next three positions. Marcel Kittel is not happy— he threw up his hand on the line, protesting that Cav had cut him off. But Cav didn’t come that close to him, and they both swerved— there won’t be an official reprimand.

I’m really pleased for Cav. He’s pleased, too, glowing in his post-race interview. Not remotely a sore loser, Peter Sagan comes up behind him out of nowhere and picks him right up off the ground while Cav’s speaking to a reporter. Back on earth, Cav turns and yanks Sagan’s cap down right over his face.

So Froome is still in Yellow, Bauke Mollema 1.47 behind him, and Adam Yates behind him. We’re heading back into the mountains, but Cav says he’s not leaving yet. And Froome says there’s no way he feels like he’s sewn it up yet. Should be more good racing ahead!

Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line for his fourth win. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images, from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2016/jul/16/tour-de-france-2016-stage-14-live

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