Tour de France Mountain Time Trial Proves DecisiveWed 17 Jul 2013
It was a quiet day in the Alps for ORICA-GreenEDGE. Lantern rouge Svein Tuft was the first rider to start the mountainous time trial, the second individual effort at the centaury Tour de France. Seven hours later, Chris Froome (Team Sky) narrowly beat Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) for the stage win, solidifying his hold on the yellow jersey before three mountain stages.
“We weren’t in it for the result today,” said Sport Director Matt White. “This sort of time trial didn’t suit anyone on our team. When there’s nothing for us in a stage, we don’t waste our effort chasing 20th place.”
Stuart O’Grady was the team’s top finisher in 41st place. He covered the 32km course in 55’24, 3’51 slower than Froome’s wining time of 51’33. While the Australian outfit enjoyed a relatively relaxed day, the overall contenders battled for crucial seconds ahead of the likely showdown in the Alps. Froome’s lead may be unassailable, but places two through ten remain up for grabs.
“It was big day for the GC guys,” said White. “I was quite interested to see which teams changed bikes. We didn’t have to worry about that sort of things because we weren’t taking any risks today.”
“I hadn’t seen the time trial course before yesterday,” White continued. “The first descent was really technical. This was a complicated time trial. The weather further complicated things. We had a couple different weather changes today. Some guys raced in completely dry conditions. Some guys raced in both wet and dry. It obviously impacted some of the field.”
With rain forecasted for tomorrow’s Alpe d’Huez stage, White predicts an aggressive day. Although he has heard the rumours about course changes due to weather, none have been from official sources.
“A wet day in the Alps changes things,” said White. “Some of the Alpine descents can be dangerous when wet. It’s going to be raced aggressively no matter what weather we have, but in the rain, there will be some riders willing to take risks that other riders won’t take. Tomorrow isn’t a day for us. It would be pointless to try to get into the break. We’re waiting for Friday, which we see as an opportunity for Cam [Meyer] or Clarkey [Simon Clarke].”
“I’ve heard rumours about the course changes for tomorrow, but there just rumours,” White continued. “I definitely haven’t heard anything official. These sorts of stories start and then take on a life of their own. The Tour de France doesn’t change stages unless it becomes absolutely necessary. I definitely don’t see rain forcing a course change”