Any prospect of the bulk of the peloton taking it easy the day before the first big stage in the Pyrenees was put to the sword – along with the sprinting big hitters – when Cannondale decided to take control of the hilly, tricky stage seven between Montepellier and Albi.
On paper the 205km route had a profile perfect for a long breakaway (and Jens Voigt of RadioShack and Blel Kadri of AG2R gave it a good go), but, as Garmin’s Andrew Talansky revealed, Cannondale had other ideas.
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“Cannondale made the race and its the best rider who wins, it wasn’t a day where someone was going to sneak away in a break. For me, it was a day to drink a lot of water and be as prepared as possible for tomorrow. No rider was going to sneak a win today and Cannondale took control. Did Sagan win? Well, there you go! When we got to the hardest climb of the race they made a tempo up that was hard,” said Talansky.
Warming down beside him in the shadow of the Garmin bus, was Dan Martin, who had a harder day than it needed to be. “I made a big faux pas, I stopped for ah…call of nature but I did it at the foot of the climb when Cannondale decided to go full gas. I was lucky the whole Movistar team had stopped with Alejandro Valeverde, and me and Alejandro were like, ‘What the hell is going on up there!?'” laughed Martin, looking as fresh as its possible to be after racing for five hours in temperatures touching 30 degrees.
“It took a little bit of a turbo boost to get back on, but it was a good little test for tomorrow maybe (Saturday in the Pyrenees). Today was about staying out of trouble and surviving and drinking a lot
Ramunas (Navardauskas), Jack (Bauer) and especially Rohan (Dennis) worked really hard all day getting bottles for us, it was really impressive. And it’s the first time all year that any of us has raced in this sort of heat, this year we haven’t had anything like what we’ve had in the last two days (Montpellier and here, Albi) and a lot of guys have been struggling a bit. You pay for your efforts when it’s hot. Plus of course the stress of the Tour, in the bunch, means that its easy not to eat, or not to eat enough to recover and that’s added to how hard its been.”
Apart from the abandon of Christian Vandevelde, who was caught in a crash early in the stage, Garmin has arrived at the foot of the Pyrenees in decent shape and good position with Talansky, Martin, Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal within 14 seconds of Chris Froome (Sky) and eight seconds of Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Tinkoff). The Garmin boys might not have had as easy a day as they would have liked, but they are still sitting pretty.