Q&A With Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage on Tour de France Stage Two

Sun 30 Jun 2013

Daryl Impey thrice scored top ten stage results in his Tour de France debut last year. Aiming for a stage victory in his second go-around, Impey cracked the top ten in Ajaccio, finishing in eighth place on the suspenseful stage. Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard Trek) emerged the surprise stage two winner.

Part of a six rider break that formed on the downhill run to the line, Bakelants managed to hold off the field by a mere second. The Belgian earned his first professional victory ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) and took over the maillot jaune in the process. Impey jumped up to fourth overall, 1” behind Bakelants. Simon Gerrans is two spots further back, tied on time in sixth place.

Four ranked climbs provided the main obstacles on the action-packed day. While the early action may have followed the usual format with an escape group going clear shortly after the flag dropped, the last hour of racing was anything but predictable. As the break splintered up the slopes of the Col de Vizzavona, the sprinters fell off pace. Overnight race leader Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step), and André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) joined Goss in what would become the grupetto while Cannondale and the climbers flexed their muscles. Impey, Gerrans and Michael Albasini had made the selection.

As riders fell off the back, Pierre Rolland (Europcar) jumped up ahead, launching an attack that saw him briefly lead the race solo. Rolland was caught 45km from the finish, on the long descent that dropped the peloton down to the final climb.

Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Cyril Gautier (Sojasun) attacked in tandem at the base of the climb that started 13km from the finish. With Chris Froome (Sky) on his wheel, Richie Porte set the pace for Team Sky. Michael Albasini accelerated but was unable to put daylight between himself and the bunch. Froome was the next to attack. With a slim advantage, the Kenyan-born Brit crossed the KOM line ahead of the reduced bunch.

Cannondale led the chase to the three riders ahead and successfully neutralised the move only to see another six riders go clear. Bakelants seemed an unlikely winner from a group that included Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi), Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida) and Flecha. With the peloton breathing down their neck, the six began to cat and mouse ever-so-slightly. Bakelants used the brief lull in pace to accelerate towards the finish. The peloton overtook all but Bakelants ahead of the line.

Sport Director Laurenzo Lapage answered questions about the team's thoughts on the exciting day of racing. 

Q: What was the approach to today’s stage?

We reviewed the course last week with Gossy, Gerro and Impey. We knew that the profile was really hard, but it was hard to predict how the race would unfold after the second category climb.  A lot would depend on what other teams wanted to do. Because there was a big unknown to this stage in that way, we had tactics that focused on more than only one outcome.

Q: Did things unfold according to plan?

Cannondale raced hard over the climbs to eliminate the sprinters. We knew this was a possibility. We thought Gossy was one of the sprinters who might be able to survive the pressure applied by other teams, but he didn’t. He fell back with most of the other sprinters into the grupetto.

Q: Who did we have in the front group after the first three ranked climbs?

We had three riders in the front group – Gerro, Impey and Albasini. The rest of our riders were in the next group.

Q: People on Twitter were asking about Cameron Meyer. They seemed surprised that he wasn’t in the first group. Did something go wrong?

No, not all. There’s nothing wrong. We asked Cam to stay near Gossy today. We thought if Gossy got dropped, he might have a chance to come back if he had some teammates with him for help. Cam dropped back when Gossy came off the bunch. It didn’t work out for the sprinters’ group to come back to the front group. Anytime they closed the gap a little, the guys at the front would hear that they were not too far away and they would go harder.

Q: With Daryl Impey now in fourth overall and Simon Gerrans only two spots further back in sixth, is the team aiming for the yellow jersey?

Of course it’s something we’re thinking about. We’ll talk about it together as directors and then as a team in our meeting. We’re in a good position right now. Tomorrow isn’t an easy day. It’s one where Gerro has a chance if he has a good day. There a lot of possibilities, and we’ll need to decide which ones gives us the best chance for a good result.

Q: Anything else to report that the television viewers might now have seen during their broadcast?

Not really. Today was not so hectic as yesterday. No crashes. Nothing special. No accidents or incidents. We’re happy for a calm day compared to yesterday.