The first week of the 100th Tour De France

Josh Barber contributed to this report.

Saturday 29th June 2013, the day was finally here, start of the 100th Tour De France. Ever since the official route was published in October 2012 the hype has been building, and it certainly didn’t let anyone down.

The Grand Depart, held in Corsica, a small island south of mainland France used for the very first time, stunning scenery, beautiful weather and 219 of the world’s best cyclists ready to release months and months of preparation out on its roads. However, no rider would have been able to train for what was about to follow.

 


The 2013 Tour De France has finished it's first week. Photo: Nick Traveller (via Flickr)

Key Moments of Stages 1-7

The first week has been full of drama, both on and off the bike. Even before the official departure on Stage One Chris Froome (Team Sky), race favourite, suffered a puncture causing him to fall to the back of the peloton and change bikes. Might seem fairly uneventful, however, suffering a ‘mechanical’ in the first 2km of a 3403km race isn’t the most ideal start for the race favourite.

The first day drama continued when the Orica Green Edge bus driver collided with the finish gantry, not ideal when over 200 cyclists are meant to be sprinting though 15 minutes later at speeds in excess of 60kph. The only solution was to move the finish to the 3km point. This caused fanatic moves from the team’s leading out their sprinters, all of a sudden they were 3km closer to the finish. No sooner were the teams trying to settle back down for a new, closer finish did race control announce on the team radio that the bus had been removed and they’re now racing to the original finish, causing even more panic. This, unsurprisingly caused a crash in the peloton, injuring many, but the most talked about injury in the British media has been of Geraint Thomas, who fractured his pelvis.

Orica Green Edge definitely took all the headlines of the first three stages, with Simon Gerrans winning stage three and they looked set to do so in the Team Time trial in nice on stage four. Beating Omega Pharma Quick Step by 0.57 seconds to win the stage.

However, attention soon turned to Ted King, an American rider for Cannondale, who was disqualified from the race after finishing the stage outside of the added 25% time rule. King missed the cut by just seven seconds.

Having ridden the stage on a standard road bike due to injuries gain in a previous stage Cannondale appealed for King to be reinstated into the Tour, however this was unsuccessful. King himself then took to twitter (@iamtedking) to put his point across tweeting “By my count, I’m at 32.24. I’m honestly not sure where 32.32 is from”. This would have put King inside the 25% rule by one second and would have meant he could have continued in the tour.

Rider of the week

The most obvious choice of rider of the week has to Peter Sagan, his consistency in the sprints competition this week has been outstanding, having only won the 7th stage it’s down to Sagan’s consistency of finishing highly that has given him a 94 point lead in the sprinters points classification. With Sagan in such form it is hard to see anyone else wearing the green jersey down the Champs-Elsee come the 21st July.

However, for me, rider of the week has to be Geraint Thomas, not for his high levels of success, but for the levels of determination he has shown. Having fallen at the end of stage one and fracturing his pelvis it would have been easy to get off the bike and travel back to the UK to recover. Thomas has done the opposite, even if his mum has told him to stop racing and by no means has he taken the mind set of finishing each stage being an achievement.

His role coming into the tour was to support Froome, and support Froome he has. From pulling the team through parts of the Team Trial (creating a 6second advantage for Froome Over Contador) to heading the peloton to pull in the days break away, Thomas has completed his role in the team as he would at full fitness, and for this level of determination, Thomas is my rider of the week.

Stage by stage in 140 characters

Stage One:  A five man break away was caught easily by the peloton, then the drama started. Orica Green Edge bus wedged and two crashes both aided a Marcel Kittel Win.

Stage Two: Jans Bakelants took the stage after an excellent solo ride. Froome proved he meant business by attacking on the final climb, with Sagan taking second place.

Stage three: Yet another break away set the tone for the day, but this time the peloton didn’t make the same mistake. Gerrans was shown to beat Sagan on the line after a photo finish.

Stage Four: Gerrans took the leader’s yellow jersey after his Orica GreenEdge squad won the team time trial by only 0.57 from Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma Quick Step Team.

Stage Five: Cavendish defied a bout of bronchitis to claim a convincing win in a sprint finish at the end of stage five to reignite his hopes for the green jersey

Stage Six: Germany’s Andre Greipel proved to be the best sprinter on stage six winning the sprint finish as Cavendish came home fourth following an earlier crash

Stage Seven: Peter Sagan extended his lead in the points competition as he sprinted to win the stage. Both Greipel and Cavendish failed to stay in the peloton after some steep climbs.

For more detailed reports visit the official tour website: http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2013/us/

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