In His Own Words: Sport Director Matt White on Tour de France Stage 16Tue 16 Jul 2013
The first stage of the final week of Tour de France racing screamed breakaway. Knowing the escape group would have an opportunity to fight for the stage victory, ORICA-GreenEDGE was determined to put riders in the early moves. When the winning breakaway formed, Cameron Meyer and Michael Albasini were amongst the group of 26 riders working to solidify their advantage over the peloton. In his own words, Sport Director Matt White describes the day.
As predicted, today was very aggressive from the start. Twenty riders went down the road straightaway from kilometre zero. We had planned to wait a little bit. We hadn’t thought any moves would stick until at least the first categorised climb. Before the first group had been fully brought back, another group went.
The second group contained some dangerous riders in it – most notably Dan Martin (Garmin Sharp). Sky chased that down. We knew the next move would be the one that would stick. The third breakaway attempt contained 26 riders. Cam and Alba represented us in the escape.
The peloton allowed the breakaway to gain a huge advantage, so it was a cruisy day for nearly everyone else. The Col de Manse animated the finale. Just before the category two climb, two French riders attacked the break. They were overtaken on the upper slopes of the climb that saw the break splinter well before the summit.
It was obvious that Alba was still fatigued from his effort two days ago. He wasn’t able to respond to attacks. Cam had good legs. He initially lost contact with the break but was able to ride back to one of the main chase group. He did a solid ride to finish in ninth place. It was a really good experience for Cam to get into the winning break during his first Tour de France.
In the wake of the break, the peloton came apart over the Col de Manse. By the time the yellow jersey group began the dangerous descent into Gap, only eight riders remained. I’m not sure that anyone expected that sort of attrition.
Tomorrow’s time trial is far from typical. It includes two mountains. The guys will ride road bikes without disc wheels. Some of them may want to use clip on bars. This is definitely not a time trial where the specialists will excel. After the time trial, there are three mountain stages before we reach the Champs Élysées on Sunday. Thursday and Saturday are definitely for the overall contenders. Friday could be as well, but it may also be a chance for the break to be successful. That’s our last chance to have a crack before Sunday.