Friday, July 5, 2013

One for all.

One for all could have a couple of meanings today. It could apply to the fact that all of the top sprinters in this year's tour now have one win a piece, with Peter Sagan taking the third sprint win in a row after Andre Greipel yesterday and Cavendish the day before. However I think it is a more apropos description of Team Cannondale's masterful performance in delivering Sagan to the line after spending almost the entire day working to rid themselves of his top competition for the green jersey. 

Today's stage eight of the centenary Tour was a classic rouleur's delight with two cat 3, one cat 2 and a punchy little cat 4 climb with 22km to go. The racing got off to a nice start thanks to good 'ol Jens Voigt. He attacked only 10 km in and then again once that attempt was reeled back. He and Biel Kadri managed to make this one stick long enough for Kadri to steal away the points lead in the mountains classification. They held out until just under 100k to go before Cannondale brought them back into the fold, but the result is that Kadri will start the day in the dotty jumper for stage 9. 

Another result was that as Cannondale upped the pace to reel in the break, they dislodged both Cavendish and Greipel off the back of the field. Once over the crest of the Col de la Croix de Mounis they put their cards on the table and the hammer down. for the next 94 km they gave everything they had to maintain that lead over a hard charging group where OPQS, Lotto and the Argos-Shimano boys formed a working truce to bring the field back together. It was all for naught though, as the Cannondale crew kept up an impressive pace to keep them at bay - with 40km to go the chasers threw in the towel and Cannondale thought they could start to think about the finish - but Jan Bakelants had other ideas. 

Almost immediately after the lull, he and two others took their shot. It would seem that he has been listening and learning from his Radiotrek teammate Voigt as he powered away head down and again disrupted the racing for the next 30 plus kilometers - slipping into virtual yellow for much of that time. Cannondale dug deep again however and brought that deficit back from over a minute to catch them with under 3km to go and set up Peter for glory. There was very little question about who's race it was at that point, with twitter erupting with guesses of what type of silly shenanigans Peter would pull as he crossed the line. 

He did the right thing however, and as he came around John Degenkolb in a more interesting sprint than most thought it would be; he sat up, pointed, patted and pinched at the Cannondale logo running across his chest. It was a fine salute to the amazing job they did over the last 94km of the stage to hand him victory. 

Sagan's sprint was excellent for sure, but this was as one of the best examples of a team victory you will ever see...and it was great to see Peter recognize that fact and his teammates as he celebrated victory. 

Maybe the boy wonder is growing up a bit after all. I wonder if this conversation had anything to do with it?:

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