Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2013 Tour de France Race Wrap-up

I posted my picks for the jerseys and the top ten in the General Classification in my stage 1 preview.

Here is a brief look at how I did on my top 10 picks for 2013 Tour de France:

MY PICKS:                                                   ACTUAL RESULTS:
1. Froome
2. Contador
3. Valverde
4. Evans
5. Rodriguez
6. Van Den Broeck
7. Mollema
8. Quintana
9. Porte
10. Fuglsang

1. Froome
2. Quintana
3. Rodriguez
4. Contador
5. Kreuziger
6. Mollema
7. Fuglsang
8. Valverde
9. Navarro
10. Talansky

Seven of my ten picks made the top ten in the final classification; Valverde notably finishing lower than I expected, and Quintana, higher. My three picks that did not finish in the top 10 were:

Evans couldn't podium in two Grand Tours
1) Cadel Evans, who finished 39th, ninety minutes off the winner’s time. I believe I commented before the Tour that Evans had more miles in his legs this year than any of the top contenders. Racing to third place at the Giro d’Italia in May turned out to be more draining than training for the veteran Aussie and 2011 TDF Champ. (Perhaps interestingly, this Tour’s winner and runner up, Froome and Quintana, had come into the race having ridden the fewest miles this season, out of any of the top GC contenders).

Van Den Broeck was out after stage 5
2) Jurgen Van Den Broeck, Lotto Belisol’s team leader abandoned the Tour after injuring his knee in a big pile-up at the end of stage Five. His knee required surgery, and the injury ended his season prematurely. The Dutch all-rounder was in good shape, and I still believe, would have placed high.

Porte was instrumental in attaining victory for his leader

3) Richie Porte was Chris Froome’s reliable right hand man through all the tough, mountainous stages—except one. Porte had a bad day and lost eighteen minutes on stage 9. His primary goal was achieved (Helping his leader win the race), and Porte’s GC placing should not have been considered any kind of priority for the team. A high finish for Porte would have been a nice bonus, but getting the overall win for Froome would take precedence over everything else.  And as far as his final 19th place overall goes, it is a good example of how it only takes one bad day to destroy a rider’s GC hopes.

Roman Kreuziger, Daniel Navarro and Andrew Talansky are the three who made the top ten that I did not pick to finish that high. Kreuziger managed to finish fifth, behind his leader, Contador, in fourth. Fifth place is a career best Tour finish for the Czech rider. His previous best finish here was eighth in 2010, but he also finished fifth at the 2011 Giro d’Italia. Fourth and fifth places bring some vital World Tour points to the team, but Contador was of course very disappointed to have missed out on the overall win.

Navarro netted ninth
A top ten for Talansky in his first Tour De France is a nice bonus for the 24-year-old American and his Garmin-Sharp team. They lost Christian Vande Velde and Rohan Dennis, and eventually Jack Bauer to injuries, and Ryder Hesjedal rode through a cracked rib sustained in a stage-one crash. But Dan Martin pulled out a win on stage 9, and besides Talansky’s tenth place GC finish, he was also second in the young rider’s competition.

Daniel Navarro of Cofidis spent most of his career supporting Alberto Contador in the mountains For Liberty Seguros, Astana and Saxo Bank. This year he moved over to the French Pro Continental team, Cofidis, where he got his first opportunity to ride a Grand Tour as team leader. Navarro seemed to improve as the race went on, and rode well in the Alps to net an overall top-ten finish. His ninth place is a very good result for the first-time leader who really did not have a strong support squad, Ninth should satisfy the 30-year-old Spaniard and his French team.           


I only picked one stage winner outright: Tony Martin in the stage-11 time trial. I decided to post two long shots (Wout Poels and Jeremy Roy) for stages 16 and 17, neither one of which paid off. I missed out on a few stages due to successful breaks and unfortunate crashes, but nine of my picks came in second, one came in third, and two came in fourth. Hopefully I will pick more winners next time.


Froome defended Yellow from stage 8 on

Chris Froome confirmed what I, and probably most people, believed: that he would dominate the race. So, that was an easy pick. I can’t take much credit for liking the favorite.

Sagan defended Green
Peter Sagan was my pick for the green jersey. He was the most consistent fast man at the sprint lines again. He defended the points jersey that he won last year, in his first Tour de France. I like the points increase at the intermediate sprints. I agree with the theory that it livens up the race a little, and forces the jersey contenders to be more diligent and consistent. Anyone else have an opinion about the increase in points for the intermediate sprints?

Quintana made his mark
I first nodded to Thomas Voeckler for the polka dot jersey, but then settled on Chris Froome, due to the double points on summit finishes. The French Europcar rider, Voeckler did not have one of his better Tours. He tried a few attacks, and helped his teammate Pierre Rolland in the mountains, but ultimately could not produce much in the way of results. It was his teammate Rolland who continually denied any interest in the king of the mountains jersey, yet was consistently present at the top of the standings. Rolland tried a last ditch attempt on the final mountain stage in Annecy, but ended up finishing third in the KOM.

 Chris Froome did win two of the race’s four mountaintop finishes, but finished second in the climber’s classification. Nairo Quintana came from behind to win the king of the mountains jersey on the final climb of stage 20, on Annecy-Semnoz. Double mountain points at the four mountaintop finishes gave the GC contenders an advantage over the rest, and Quintana was the climber who capitalized most as a result.

Talansky was the USA's best finisher
Team Movistar’s young Colombian climber, Nairo Quintana was a powerhouse in the mountains. He distanced his early rival for the white jersey, Michal Kwiatkowski, as soon as the roads turned upward. He won stage 20 and came away with the young riders prize. Eventually Team Garmin’s Andrew Talansky climbed past Kwiatkowski to finish second among the young riders; but second place was more than thirteen minutes behind the superlative time set by Quintana.

Tour rookie Quintana won two jerseys
I named Quintana as one of my top three picks for the white jersey, but I wound up favoring Tejay Van Garderen of BMC to do a repeat. Van Garderen bonked in the Pyrenees, and was out of contention early. The young American also barely missed out on a stage win when he attacked on Alpe d’Huez, but eventually got reeled in by a persistent Christophe Riblon of Ag2R. (Riblon rode a very aggressive Tour and came away with the prize for most combative rider throughout the race.)

Team Saxo-Tinkoff had two riders in the top five on GC
My gut told me Movistar, but I picked the American Garmin-Sharp Team for the winner in the Team competition. In the end it was Saxo-Tinkoff who won. Garmin, with all its injuries, finished a distant 11th, with its top riders’ times adding up to about two-and-a-quarter hours slower than Saxobank’s. Movistar finished fourth, with Quintana and Alejandro Valverde in the GC top-ten. Movistar’s third best was Rui Costa, who pulled off two stage wins in the final week, and finished 27th overall. Alberto Contador, Roman Kreuziger and Michael Rogers led the Saxo assault that won the team competition, with the first two both finishing in the top five, and Rogers finishing 16th. However, they did not get any stage wins, and narrowly missed a podium spot.

Stage finish results:

Before the race began, the official program stated “7 flat stages”. I wrote that we could expect as many as ten. In the end, nine stages finished in a bunch sprint.

I listed six stages that could see potential breakaway winners: 3, 5, 9, 14, 16 and 19. Six stages were in fact won from breakaways, four (Stages 14, 16, 18, and 19) by a rider from the early break, and two (stages 2 and 9) were won by attacks that came later in the stage. Bakelants won stage 2 after attacking with 6k to go to the finish line, and Dan Martin took stage 9 after attacking with 35k to go. So I hit four out of six.

This is how the stages actually finished:

9 Bunch Sprints (stages 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, and 21)
3 TTs  (4, 11, 17)
4 stages were won by early breakaways (14, 16, 18, 19)
2 by late break (stg 2: Bakelants from -6k; and stg 9: Dan Martin from -35k)
4 MTFs:
3 of 4 Mountaintop Finishes were won by a top GC contender (8 and 15 were won by Chris Froome; and Nairo Quintana took stage 20);
1 MTF was won from an early break: stage 18 (Alpe d’Huez) was snatched by Christophe Riblon. [I think Riblon’s win on Alpe d’Huez was the most impressive of the entire Tour.]

Nine stages ended in bunch sprints

Here is my “shorthand” of how each stage finished, and who won, just to look at it stage by stage:

1. Bunch Sprint: Kittel (The OGE bus and a late bunch-crash could not prevent it)
2. Late Break: Bakelants (from -6k)
3. Bunch SPR: Gerrans
4. TTT – OGE
5. Bunch SPR: Cav
6. Bunch SPR: Greipel
7. Bunch SPR: Sagan
8. MTF (Ax 3 Domaines): Froome
9. Late Break wins: Dan Martin won on a day where his Garmin team was very aggressive. He got into his winning break on the final climb of the day, with 35k to go, and outsprinted Jakob Fuglsang for the win.
10. Bunch SPR: Kittel
11. TT – Tony Martin
12. Bunch SPR: Kittel
13. Bunch SPR: Cavendish
14. Early BRK: Trentin from the early break
15. MTF (Mont Ventoux): Froome
16. Brk: Rui Costa from early brk
17. TT: Froome
18. MTF (Alpe d’Huez): Break: Riblon from early brk
19. Hi Mts: Rui Costa from early break chase group
20. MTF (Annecy Semnoz): Quintana
21 Bunch SPR: Kittel

Some Final Observations:

Matteo Trentin (OPQ) won stage 14
1. The only stage that was won by a rider who came as a complete surprise (to me) was Matteo Trentin’s victory on stage 14 in Lyon. The 23-year-old Italian on the Omega Pharma-Quickstep Team was his country’s Under-23 Road Champ in 2011. A Tour de France stage win makes Trentin one of the impressive young riders who made a mark on this Tour.

Marcel Kittel won four stages
2. I had Marcel Kittel as “the best of the rest” among the sprinters. I had Sagan, Cavendish, and Greipel in a higher tier. Well, The young German, Kittel won more stages than anybody at the 2013 Tour de France, taking four of them: stages 1, 10, 12 and 21. I will definitely grant him more respect from now on. He even bookended the race by taking the first and last stages. He became the first sprinter to beat the Manx Missile, Mark Cavendish on the Champs-Élysées, after Cav had taken his first four attempts there.

Romain Bardet's stock is on the rise
3. The top four young riders at the end of the Tour all finished inside the top 15 overall. I have already talked a lot about the top three. Romain Bardet was fourth among them, and the 22-year-old neo-pro is proving to be the viable all-rounder that Ag2R La Mondiale has been grooming him to be. Remember, the young Frenchman also finished 13th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year, in a group that finished tied for sixth place, just :18 off Dan Martin’s winning time. So he can do one-day Classics and has been collecting a lot of miles in stage races. I’m looking forward to watching him progress.


Hope you enjoyed my coverage of the 100th Tour de France! The Clasica San Sebastian and the Tour of Poland are coming up soon. The next Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, starts August 24th and runs until September 15th. A mountainous course without much time trialing will make for a thrilling ride. I will provide daily coverage, with previews and results again, so don’t forget to come back!


  1. Epic. That's how I'd describe this years tour. From the immediate redemption of Team Orica to the excitement of the intermediate sprints (I'm with you on that being a welcome change to any stage) to the excitement of watching the youngest and the oldest riders making history. Superb daily coverage that I referred to multiple times throughout each stage. Your picks are worthy of applause! I mentioned that during the giro I only kept myself updated through this blog-same went for le tour. If this were an app I'd pay for it! In the end I'm very glad Vroome took yellow. He deserved to be wearing it. His ability to stay with Quintana was the defining moment for me. I have crazy respect for Porte-he's handled the criticism from that second day bonk fest in the mountains really well too. The team sky vibe was palpably different this year-for the better. Poor TeeJay and the BMC boys just couldn't get themselves into this tour-Garmin too (aside from the Irishman's win). Kittell was the most impressive sprinter-with no fanfare he came in and quietly dominated. Will Cav rethink his strategy with the intermediate sprints? Sagan has youth on his side while the Manx missle is surely maturing.
    Overall, this years tour was my favorite. The fact that the yellow jersey changed hands so many times during the first 8 days made it all that much more exciting. The fact that stage 20 had the potential to really shake up the podium standings made for the most thrilling penultimate stage I've ever watched. Epic route, epic stages, epic scenery made for one epic tour!
    Congratulations on making it through all 21 stages with superb coverage of every kilometer that mattered! NBCSN needs to hire you.

  2. Thanks for the tremendous praise, Katie! I only wish I could have covered more.

    Despite coming in the heavy favorite, Froome hardly flinched for three weeks. I was sorry we didn't get to see Peraud and Van Den Broeck finish, but there was no question who was the most consistent rider.

    I was surprised that Sagan did not win more stages, but his consistency at the line made the green jersey race look easier than it really is.

    I agree that the first half of the race was very exciting. And the scenery, like you say, was fantastic.

    Christophe Riblon persistently attacking, and then winning on Alpe d'Huez was refreshing--and then he won on the Passo Pordoi on stage 2 of the Tour of Poland! He wasn't even supposed to start that race. The guy is on a tear.

    25 days to the Vuelta!