Tour de France 2013, Take 2. Gimme a Breakaway

Chris Froome has won the 2013 Tour de France. Now I know how anticlimactic the action was from 1999 to 2005 when Nobody (AKA Lance Armstrong) won the Tour. He’d grab an insurmountable victory margin anywhere from the opening time trial to the first or second mountain stage, and then just open it up a bit more at every opportunity. There could be other interesting stages, sprints, contests for the points jersey or the other podium spots, but the biggest prize, the overall (General Classification, or GC) victory, was never in doubt.
This year Froome has a lead of about 3 minutes. Until yesterday his own teammate, Richie Porte, was in second. However that has all changed, and now some more bona fide contenders trail him. But given Froome’s overall climbing and time trialling skills, he can only fall out of the lead by crashing.
Yet today’s stage shows how much exciting action can enter the race even on the current of something as invisible as a stiff breeze during a flat stage. Crosswinds broke the peloton into small groups, who struggled along in a double-echelon formation. Alejandro Valverde, podium contender, crashed and fell disastrously behind. Struggling with a few teammates against the wind, he could not hang in contention. Conversely, Alberto Contador and his Saxo-Bank team attacked Froome, his weakened Sky team, and the struggling peloton with about 20 km to go. He grabbed back about 68 seconds to put himself back into contention for the podium. And with both Mont Ventoux and the Alps ahead, including the bizarre double climb of L’Alpe d’Huez, with a little more luck, who knows what could happen? Should I just ignore my own opening assertion?

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