Ok, sometimes we get reminded that bike racing is in fact a tough competition. Sometimes it’s not always holding hands and singing cumbaya. In both today’s races there was a healthy dose of drama. So which was worse? Was it Peter Sagan winning over Vincenzo Nibali? Or was is Movistar and Sky on the front after an awful day with three crashes for Levi Leipheimer?
On a day which was billed to be decisive for the overall, and a stage which in years past often sees the GC decided, this one was dull. Well, with exception of Thomas De Gendt’s incredible solo win nearly 6 minutes over his breakaway companion Rein Taaramae. What we expected was a Cofidis long range attack. We expected a strong break. We expected a GC battle between Movistar, OPQS, and Sky up the Col de Vence and a dramatic race down the otherside into Nice. And we got all that.
What we didn’t expect was a slow, controlled pace up the Col de Vence, a 12minute breakaway and the controversy that would ensue on the descent. Levi Leipheimer, who already crashed once in the day, went down again as the descent was ramping up. Movistar and Sky who were controlling things were on the front and to one half of the arguement, Movistar pushed hard while sky followed distancing a fallen competitor. Generally, a no-no even though it happens all the time. To the otherside of the argument, it was Movistar and Sky doing what they would have planned to do. Race hard, make splits, race for extra time at the line.
I think everyone agrees it was unfortunate to see Leipheimer’s chances threatened by a fall, but it only got worse when he and three other teammates went down again due to the speed in which they were chasing. De Gendt already secured the win at this point, and Taaramee second, and it was a sprinters battle for third as Sky pushed the pace into the final kilometers. Not the great day of racing we hoped for, but a great individual day for Thomas De Gendt. The race concludes tomorrow with the uphill Col D’Eze timetrial.
Paris-Nice Stage 7 Top Three
1. Thomas De Gendt (VacanSoleil)_________5h11’48”
2. Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)_______________+6’19”
3. John Degenkolb (Project 1T4i)_________+9’24”
Paris-Nice Overall Classification after 7 stages
1. Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky)___________27h53’04”
2. Lieuwe Westra (VacanSoleil)__________+6″
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)________+18″
4. Simon Spilak (Lampre)________________+37″
5. Tegay VanGarderen (BMC)______________+39″
Ok, and in Italy. More Polemica. What do you do when your teammate launches a strong, but perhaps not strong enough attack? Sit up? Chase for second? Go for the win? Well, for the second time in as many years Peter Sagan was left watching as Vincenzo Nibali launched a strong sprint for the line and Nibali was left watching as Sagan blazed past him. Polemica? Like in Paris-Nice… I think not. It’s bike racing. First, the strongest guy should always win unless the win is certain. Today, it wasn’t. Roman Kreuziger was tracking down Nibali with a good head of steam and Sagan got the win for the team. One side says Sagan should have followed Kreuziger and not chased. The other side says he did just that. Sagan wins, Kreuziger second, Nibali third. It’s bike racing.
Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 4 Top Three
1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale)
2. Roman Kreuzinger (Astana)
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale)
Tirreno-Adriatico Overall Classification after 4 Stages
1. Chris Horner (RadioShack)____19:01:54
2. Roman Kreuziger (Astana)_____+07
3. Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge)____+13
4. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)_______+21
5. Danilo Di Luca (AQS)_________+22