Tour de France Stage 13: Stybar Top 20 in Uphill Rodez Finale
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Zdenek Stybar finished 15th in the uphill sprint finale of 198.5km Tour de France Stage 13, from Muret to Rodez, on Friday.
Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL - Jumbo), and Cyril Gautier (Europcar) went ahead of their former break mates as the gap dropped to the field in the final kilometers. They held on to just a 10" advantage over the chasing peloton inside 1km to go. However, they were caught going into the final sprint on Côte Saint Pierre (570m, 9.6%).
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) got an early advantage in the sprint and held on for the victory. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) got to his wheel, but was unable to pass him before the line and finished 2nd. Jan Bakelants (AG2R - La Mondiale) was 3rd.
The peloton finished with small gaps between riders. Stybar was in a group of riders that finished 17" down from the stage winner.
Crosswinds earlier in the stage split up the peloton, with riders such as Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who suffered a mechanical, being caught in the second group. However, the groups came back together later in the stage.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to 178.5km Stage 14, from Rodez to Mende, on Saturday. The profile features both up-and-down and flat sections. The peloton will see the flattest section between kilometers 58.5 and 137, and will have four categorized climbs to ascend otherwise. The big challenge of the day will be Category 2 Côte de la Croix Neuve (3km, 10.1%) with the final slope at the 177km mark.
"It was a super hard day because of the weather conditions," Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag said. "External conditions, such as the heat, made it very tough. Also, there were six very strong riders in the breakaway, and the speed always was high. This made it one of the hardest days of Le Tour de France so far. You see when the riders arrive at the bus, how tired and stressed they are. You just feel almost like you're stuck in an elevator that has no air conditioning. You feel like everything narrows down, everything closes in on you. Whatever you drink, it will never be enough. Whatever you put on your head, it will never cool you down enough. You get a little bit lost in that and get sidetracked in terms of winning the bike race, which is the main objective. You've seen really strong riders suffering and getting off the back relatively early with how hard the race has been. I think our guys did really well considering this, even if they didn't get the win. The best man of the day was Van Avermaet. Congratulations to him. He went from far away, putting Sagan under pressure. Zdenek Stybar was there in the final, and Mark Cavendish tried to be there in the final. Both were positioned by Michal Golas. They did a great job together until that right turn at about 600 meters to go. But we just couldn't execute the plan to cross the finish line in first place today. We're always happy if we win, less happy if we don't win. It's in the nature of our riders. But there is no reason to be disappointed. The conditions have been tough, we brought everybody home safe, they tried their best in the end, and we just came up short. That's what happens in cycling. You may not win every time there is an opportunity, but you still need to try your chance. We'll keep trying in the next days."