Stage 13 saw Astana’s Alexander Vinokourov time his attack perfectly on the day’s final climb taking victory just as the sprinters charged down the finishing straight. As I predicted yesterday’s stage 13 was the optimal stage for a well timed attack and Vino did not disappoint.
The sprinter’s teams gobbled up the break before they hit the final climb up the Côte de Saint-Ferréol, keeping the pace extremely high as the peloton shattered on the ascent. Vino was there to protect teammate Alberto Contador as several riders launched failed attacks and then he struck. In what has become Vino’s trademark, he timed his attack perfectly and soloed to victory on the very technical descent into Revel.
Mark Cavendish proved he does not need a lead-out train to sprint as he decimated the field sprint to take second going away. The sprinters were in two lines as the rounded the final turn into the finishing straight. Allesandro Petacchi launched his attack down the left side as Cavendish was sitting third wheel behind Thor Hushovd. Seeing Ale-Jet jump, Cavendish launched himself down the right side and blew the field away. Petacchi took third and regained the points lead while Hushovd finished a disappointing eighth.
This begs to question: should race organizers put more emphasis on winning? In my opinion, Thor Hushovd has no business calling himself a sprinter because he does not win sprints. I would like to see considerably more weight given to the overall winner of a stage because Cavendish and Petacchi have proved they are the only two sprinters in this race and the only reason Hushovd is even in the equation is because he jumps into a couple of breakaways and steals points in the intermediates. The real sprinters don’t care about these intermediate sprints because they care about actually winning the race. Personally I think the only intrinsic value the intermediate sprints should have is a cash prize so we get a true sprint champion not just a second hand opportunist riding the coattails of those who win.
Thanks for reading,
For more great Tour analysis, visit my good friend Tim Liew @ The Armchair Sportsfan.