Many of the riders were trying to rest and relax today. 5th-placed Alejandro Valverde’s (Illes Balears) poorly knee got the better of the stage 10 winner and, looking suitably devastated, he had to pull out. It was a steaming hot day and much of the road was melting. The Disco boys took it easy and protected their sore legs for towing the race through the Pyrenees.
An early break after 25kms was inevitable. It was a quality one too, including French favourite Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) Spanish Classics ace Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), Chris Horner (Saunier Duval), Carlos Da Cruz (Francaise des Jeux) and Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r). They got as much as 8 minutes as the peloton looked happy to take it easy in the soaring temperatures.
The non-Disco chase was inevitable as many teams wanted the sprinters to have their day. Lotto to the fore the escapees were caught, but not after a considerable fight. With the riders almost in sight Sylvain Chavenel (Cofidis) made a blistering attack and caught the chasing pack by surprise. He joined the breakaway and then attacked again. Only Chris Horner could match his speed as the Break self destructed.
Horner and Chavenel did all they could but both must have felt the breath of the Liquigas and Lotto riders on their backs. Robbie McEwan took the front with 300 to go, flicked his wheels at Stuart O’Grady and took another victory. It was so close. Horner will certainly be sore tomorrow.
Stage 14 will see the Pyrenees for the first time. Expect another dominating display by the Disco boys. Ullrich will probably be sat on a wheel, along with Basso, Landis, Moreau, Leipheimer et al and Vino will be the only one capable of launching another attack. Expect to see a Basque rider down the road for a lot of the day. RCUK prediction? Should be a day for Iban Mayo (Euskatel-Euskadi).
Stage 13 Result:
1. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 3.43.14 (46.632 km/h)
2. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone
3. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
4. Guido Trenti (USA) Quick.Step
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole
6. Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
7. Robert Förster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
8. Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas-Bianchi
9. Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
10. Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir
Overall GC after 12 stages:
1. Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 50.13.50 (43.884 km/h)
2. Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank 0.38
3. Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole 2.34
4. Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC 2.40
5. Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems 3.48
6. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 3.58
7. Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d’Epargne 4.00
8. Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.02
9. Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team 4.16
10. Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems s.t.