Q&A with Sport Director Matt White at Tour de France Stage 19

Fri 19 Jul 2013

Cameron Meyer spent nearly two hours off the front on the penultimate day of Alpine racing at the Tour de France. Returning to the bunch when the breakaway fractured, Meyer ultimately finished in the grupetto on stage 19. Simon Clarke was ORICA-GreenEDGE’s top finisher in Le Grand-Bornand, crossing the line in 39th place, 10’10 behind stage winner Rui Costa (Movistar). Although difficult, the day that included five major ascents did not prove as decisive as projected.

The stage start proved the most animated racing of the day. By the time the peloton hit the base of the first of five categorised climbs, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) and Jon Izagirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) led the stage ahead of a 40-odd group. The duo hit the summit of the Col du Glandon with a 3’ advantage over their chasers and 8’ over the peloton.

Over the next climb, the Col de Madeline, Izagirre fell off pace and Pierre Rolland (Europcar) bridged across to take his place. Rolland disposed of Hesjedal on the Col de Tamie, becoming the lone leader. The large chase group fractured over the Madeline and splintered further on the Tamie.

Rolland began to tire over the penultimate ascent. By the time he reached the final categorised climb, his lead hovered around the minute mark. As heavy rain began to fall, Costa attacked from the remnants of the chase. He quickly caught Rolland. The duo initially worked together before Costa left Rolland in his wake.

A new chase group took shape as Costa steadily extended his advantage and the peloton, 9’ behind, continued to tap out a steady tempo. The fight for the general classification was mild compared to yesterday’s battle. While Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attempted to escape the clutches of the yellow jersey group, he never gained much of an advantage. Chris Froome (Sky) and company caught the Spaniard on the line.

Happy to have nine riders who are one day closer to Paris, Sport Director Matt White took time to answer questions from Le Grand-Bornand.

Q: There was a frantic start to the stage – what was our role in the early action?

A lot of riders were determined to get into the breakaway today, and it took a long time for the various groups to be established. Cam was part of the big break that went just before the first climb, the HC Col du Glandon. The composition of the group changed often. At one stage, there were 44 riders.

None of the riders in the break were a threat to Froome, so Sky rode tempo on the front for awhile. The guys in the break started to attack each over on the Col de Madeline. That’s when Cam went back to the bunch.

Q: There were reports that Svein Tuft was involved in a crash. What happened?

Someone locked up in front of him, and he veered to the right to avoid going down. There were some grass cuttings there, and he slipped on them. Three or four riders crashed out today. Svein was quite lucky not be one of them. He was able to get back on his bike, join the grupetto and solider onto the finish. He’s sore, but he’s a hardman. He plans to finish his first Tour in Paris.

Q: What sort of day did the rest of the team have?

It was a hard day, but they all fared okay. We had a group of six in the grupetto. Stuey [O’Grady] and Svein cruised in the last group to make it to the finish.

We were pretty lucky today with the weather. The rain held off until the last hour. With the rain came a huge temperature change. It went from 24°C to 17°C in less than an hour. They were cold but not completely miserable. It would have been a long day if it rained earlier.