Saturday, July 13, 2013

Give me a break.

Matteo Trentin Stage 14 2013 TDF - Photo credit: Laurent Cipriani AP
2013 has been a lean year for breakaway successes in Le Tour. Only stage 2's win by Belgian Jan Bakelants qualifies as a true breakaway win in my opinion, but if there was a stage set up perfectly for a break to was todays stage 14 to Lyon. 

After the battle in yesterday's phenomenal stage 13 it seemed like the wind battered peloton was more than happy to reign things back a bit and let the split grow to it's eventual 7 plus minute size. The excitement was started by - you guessed it - Jens Voigt. The popular 41 year old was riding in his 303rd stage of Le Tour and set out with his protegĂ© Bakelants and 17 others including American Andrew Talansky, the highest placed GC rider in the group. The break survived a bridge attempt from Italian legend Damiano Cunego and Dutch hardman and barbed wire magnet Johnny Hoogerland and continued to apply the pressure. 

The pace eventually proved too much for the veterans Voigt and David Millar and they were dispatched before Frenchman Julien Simon put in a heroic effort and gained over 30 seconds on the others. Behind him the group worked haphazardly to bring him back, with TeeJay Van Garderen and the others taking turns surging and then following as the early cat and mouse games started to play out. The result was a lead that stayed at around 10 seconds and tantalized Simon with thoughts of maintaining it all the way to victory. 

One final push from Michael Albasini and it was over however. A spent Simon made a strong effort to stay with the breakaway all the way to the line and was rewarded with a more than respectable 11th place on the day. Up ahead of him Bakelants took a deep pull to try and distance the group but it was too little too late. The finish looked to be perfectly suited to Movistar's J.J. Rojas - easily the best sprinter in the group - but Albasini took the fight to him first and the Spaniard faded. Talansky also came around but it was a deep turn from far back in the group by the Italian Matteo Trentin that did in the others. He showed a great finishing kick that his teammate Mark Cavendish would be proud of and crossed the line with a salute that showed nearly as much surprise as it did celebration.

Matteo Trentin stage 14 2013 TDF - Photo credit: Laurent Rebours AP.
It was the first Tour victory for the 23 year old from Borgo Valsugana, and also the first for any Italian in over 3 years. He showed well for his country and for his Omega Pharma Quickstep squad. It is their second win in a row, third in the last four stages and fifth overall. Throw in the revelation that young Michal Kwiatkowski has been and it's easy to see that OPQS came to play, and has been a huge factor so far in this years tour. 

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