17 July 2015

Van Avermaet Catches Breakaway in Thrilling Sprint!

What a hot day for racing!  Temperatures reached 36 C (97 F) and cyclists were battling the heat all day.  I grabbed a screen capture of Pierre-Luc Périchon of France as he was putting ice down his jersey (click on the image for a larger view).
It must be nice having someone in a car hand you ice (and food and water) when you need it!  Though not quite the mountain vistas of the past three stages, riders still enjoyed great scenery, as evinced by what I grabbed with about 41 km (25 mi) left (click on the image for a larger view).
Last year's runner-up, Jean-Christophe Péraud crashed about 20 km (12 mi) before the above scene.  He rolled on the road a couple of times and was badly injured.  Despite all the blood, torn jersey, and obvious pain, he still managed to finish the stage less than six minutes behind the winner.  What a gritty performance!

I was rooting for the three-man breakaway to hold on at the very end, but the peloton caught them with about 200 m (656 ft) left in the stage.  Belgian Greg Van Avermaet just beat Peter Sagan of Slovakia across the finish line (click on the image for a larger view).
Sagan has a real knack for coming in second!  Below is a comparison between today's stage reality and our prediction.
  • Stage 13:  4h 43' 41" (actual), 4h 46' 07" (prediction), 02' 26" slow (0.86% error)
We're happy to be under 1% yet again!  Below is Van Avermaet's average speed.
  • Stage 13:  11.66 m/s (41.98 kph or 26.09 mph)
Tomorrow's 178.5-km (110.9-mi) medium-mountain stage picks up where today's left off, in the commune of Rodez.  Cyclists will head southeast for about half the stage and then northeast for the other half, ending in the commune of Mende.  Riders will have to contend with a couple of category-4 climbs and a couple of category-2 climbs.  Elevations will be a bit higher tomorrow compared to those in today's stage.  I'm sure cyclists will be rooting for cooler weather!  Below is our prediction.
  • Stage 14:  4h 21' 59" (prediction)
We've hit seven consecutive stages to better than 1.85%, and four of those were under 1%.  Will our streak end tomorrow?  It all depends on the strategies of the various teams.  The stage has a climb at the start and a climb at the end, which make for interesting challenges.

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