Crosswinds throw a curveball into GC at the Tour

Richie Porte amongst a few contenders to lose time in a windswept ending to stage 10

Richie Porte was amongst a handful of GC contenders that were caught out in the crosswinds with around 30 kilometers remaining in stage 10 at the Tour de France.

A big chase ensued from the second group containing Porte and a few other rivals and Trek-Segafredo put in a monstrous effort alongside other teams to close the gap to less than 15 seconds, but that’s as close as they would get. The group blew apart on a small rise, losing valuable strength in numbers and leaving a skeleton crew to continue the pursuit, no match against the power of the leading bunch.

The gap lengthened as Bauke Mollema and Porte worked hard with nine others to no avail. As Mollema led the group home the damage was crushing: 1 minute and 40 seconds.

We knew it was coming, but when they put it in the gutter there on the left-hand side, I was the last guy to not get across. It was just a power thing – and I just wasn’t up for it today. It’s disappointing but the race still goes on. There were quite a lot of GC guys in my boat as well, so I guess now we all have to do something but there’s still a lot of hard racing to come.

- Richie Porte

Giulio Ciccone gave a big effort in the chasing group for Porte and eventually dropped to the third group that finished, losing the Best Young Rider jersey that he had held since claiming it on stage six. He admitted it was a big lesson today.

Ciccone explained: “Everything happened in a moment that nobody expected. We knew there was a danger of echelons, but that was earlier in the stage. We had been attentive at the front on all those dangerous moments, and in the end, the echelons happened at a place unforeseen. I think it all happened a bit by coincidence, but the gap was only two meters and at the beginning, it looked like it was nothing and we could close it right away. Unfortunately, in the first group they realized quickly some GC-riders had missed the cut and they started giving it their all and we couldn’t do anything against it anymore.”

“This is definitely a hard lesson learned for me. It’s a hard kick, both physically and mentally, but I won’t let my head down, there’s still plenty of stages to come. Personally, I think I can be happy with my first week in the Tour, two days in yellow, then two days in white, and still 10th in GC, but I am very disappointed and I feel sorry for the team. The Tour is still long and we will see how it goes. Tomorrow we will enjoy our rest day and on Wednesday we take off again, with renewed motivation.”

The Tour de France heads into its first rest day Tuesday and Porte sits nearly three minutes behind some of his rivals. It’s not the position the team envisioned for Porte as they head into the second part of the race, but no one is throwing in the towel yet – Porte didn’t even make it this far in the Tour the last two years! – and everything can still be won and lost in the big mountains stages to come.

“We knew there was 5kms that was dangerous,” explained director Kim Andersen. “There was a little bit of crosswind, and we all knew it’s not the specialty of Richie, and we just missed it for a very small thing. But you know in races, small things make the difference. It was not good to lose time today.

“So obviously not a nice day for us, but we keep going. There’s still a long way to Paris and the mountains are still coming. There were 5-6 [team] leaders in this group – it was a day to take time [on them] and instead we lost time with them. We will keep our focus – as you can see every day something can happen.”