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UNITED KINGDOM / ENGLISH CHANGE REGION
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) pushed their Specialized bikes and equipment to the limit in the Tour de France's stage 13 finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond. The trio and their team-mates helped split the race to produce both gains in the classification and win count.
Cavendish won win number 25 in the Tour de France and his second in this year's edition. Contador and Fuglsang moved one minute closer to leader Chris Froome (Sky) in the overall classification.
Omega Pharma sweetened the day for Cavendish. At 110 kilometres out, it began drive furiously at the front of the peloton in the crosswinds. Instead of the Tour de France, it appeared the team was on its way to winning a Northern Classic. Cavendish added, "I noticed the wind and commented to Gert Steegmans. He replied, "Yeah, get ready!"
The stage was set for a sprint, but Team Saxo-Tinkoff wanted something else, as well. With 32 kilometres to race, six of its riders fired off the front of the peloton. It pulled away a group of 14 men that, importantly for them, did not contain overall leader Froome and several other rivals.
The masterful ride looked like a team time trial. Roman Kreuziger, Matteo Tosatto, Daniele Bennati, Nicolas Roche, Michael Rogers and Contador took pulls to distance Froome further. "The Tour is far from over. A thousand things can happen any day," Contador remarked.
"We said we would attack in the second part of the race," Rogers added. "We clawed back a little bit of time today – a minute. Froome still has a good couple of minutes advantage. We are not going to go down without fighting."
When Cavendish started celebrating, the clock started ticking. It ran for one minute, nine seconds before yellow jersey Froome crossed the line. Valverde slipped nearly 10 minutes behind. Contador celebrated with his team-mates. Fuglsang, who muscled his way in the move, found Astana to control the damage.
When the results sheets were distributed, Fuglsang jumped from 12th to sixth overall at 4:39. Contador gained one spot, now sitting third at 2:45. And, of course, Cavendish bagged win number 25.
Niki Terpstra attacked once and Sylvain Chavanel led him to the win.
"It was a very interesting day for the sprinting and GC teams, and a great day for the spectators," Cavendish said. "What should have been a straight sprint was a spectacular day of racing."