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Robert Hunter’s Stage 18 Diary Post…”Cavendish at double the Speed”

July 21, 2012

stage 18 of the Tour de France, a 222.5km test from Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde.

Although classed as a flat stage, the profile and local knowledge suggests it will be anything but. The first third of the day is flat but the middle section is distinctly lumpy. Most of the peloton will have a mark next to this stage as it offers many riders their best and perhaps only chance of a win before Paris.

As far as a intermediate stage goes that was as good as it gets I think.

Most teams were hoping for a break away while others where gambling on a sprint. With this in mind it made for an exceptionally hard and fast day. The first hour was covered at 48kms/h and the next 3 not much slower.

A break finally got away and over a small category 4 climb there were eventually 14 riders left out front.The group was by now giving a huge chase as a lot of tactics come into play. We saw for the first time teams like Rabo bank chasing with no sprinter, Quickstep as well but this was all due to 1 not having some one in the break and 2 the smalller places on GC. Teams that have some one in 10th don’t want anybody who is 12th to possibly slip past them this close to Paris.
These races behind the race often don’t get noticed by people back home and they just question things like, why would Euskaltel be riding on a sprinters day.

Like I said so close to Paris nobody wants to lose the little bit of results that they can pretty much now see and taste.

With a huge effort being put in from the group the break never got more than 2 minutes. On the final run in there was a 3kms climb not to hard but only 15odd km/s from the finish.

The Break was forced with Vino giving it a go and hoping he could get a stage win in possibly his last TDF. 4 riders managed to follow him and rode as hard as possible to get to the finish. By now they only had just over 30 seconds on a determined Peleton.

The Peleton itself almost made the last GPM look like a flat rode the way they sped up it but over the top a few riders slipped away and managed to join the left overs of 4 riders from the original break .

With only a few kms to race 20second advantage it was going to be real close.

It was possibly only cause of the Final surge from Sky’s Froome and Wiggins for Cavendish that they actually caught the break.

Into the final Km it turned into a bit of a mess lotto riders got in the way of Greenedge and sky. The trains were confused as lotto left gaps and the next thing Cavendish shot out on his own to get the win he wanted to bad. He hit out with about 400meters, Impey with Goss trying to get back on terms but never had a chance at this stage. It was already over as Cav had about 20 meters to Goss before he could start his sprint. Cavendish carved up the few remaining riders last of which was Sanchez and flew by him like he was standing still.

Sanchez might just have stood a chance if he was not trying to be to clever for himself in the last 500 meters. Instead of riding to get to the line he was letting Roche do all the work gambling on Roche getting tired and him then sprinting to the win. What he forgot was to win you need to get to the line first.
He made a fatal error and when he realized it was time to sprint he saw Cavendish come over him double the speed.
Maybe next time he will try ride instead of trying to get to clever with his break away companions.

Cavendish on the other hand proved to be worthy again of the world Champion stripes. Not many people have worn those stripes and while wearing them have won as many races as he has. And def not as clever and calculated as he did yesterday.
So much for the Rainbow Jersey being Jinxed!

TT day coming up today..

Robbie

Remember to follow my live Tour updates on @HelivacAthletes to stand a chance of winning a signed Garmin Barracuda Shirt on the final stage!

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