Matteo Trentin gave Omega Pharma their second stage win in two days, winning a small group sprint into Lyon.
The Italian had been one of the least showy of an 18-strong group who'd worked their way clear of the peloton in the first half of the stage. Over three small climbs which punctuated the final run-in to the finish through the north western suburbs of France's second city, his rivals had attacked, countered and chased.
Sojasun's Julien Simon came close to success, building a 25-second lead with eight kilometres to go, but as internecine warfare and fast-shifting alliances alternately fractured and brought together the group, it all came together in the final kilometre.
Even then, other riders had looked more likely to win - Michael Albasini of Orica and stage one winner Jan Bakelandts of Radioshack made strong efforts on the finishing straight, but Trentin, who'd kept his powder entirely dry during the run-in, pickpocketed his rivals in the final dash to the line. As so often happens in cycling, the winner was the cleverest, not the strongest rider.
Peace broke out among the GC contenders following yesterday's fireworks. With the shadow of Mont Ventoux looming large on the horizon, there were no further attempts at testing out Team Sky, whose shaky defence of Chris Froome's yellow jersey yesterday was the talk of the start village. But with so few opportunities for successful breakaways in this year's Tour, competition to get into today's escape was fierce.
It took over an hour and a half of racing for the break to establish itself. Following the first attack, by Jens Voigt (RadioShack), Lars Bak (Lotto) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r), a constantly-changing cast of characters joined them off the front. The lead hovered between 20 seconds and a minute for a long time, until the peloton finally relented, and 18 riders disappeared over the horizon, including Britain's David Millar (Garmin), who won a Tour stage from a breakaway 12 months ago today. Their lead grew steadily in the baking hot sunshine, while Sky half-heartedly marshalled the peloton towards Lyon.
Unity among the leaders was broken when Albasini attacked with 25 kilometres to go. This first dig stretched the group out and announced that from here on in, common cause would be sacrificed on the altar of personal ambition. Bakelandts went for it on the penultimate climb, but all he succeeded in doing was putting his team-mate Voigt out the back, then Millar followed the German into oblivion.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) led up the climb of the Cote de la Duchere, with 15 kilometres to go, but over the top, Julien Simon picked his moment perfectly and rode away while the rest of the break dithered. In front of huge crowds, Simon motored to a 25-second lead while the break alternately co-operated, then bunched up.
It looked like the Frenchman might get his team's first ever stage win at the Tour, but in the final flat kilometres into the city centre, he tied up. His lead melted to 10 seconds with two kilometres to go, when Marcus Burghardt (BMC) attacked and dragged himself clear, also taking Albasini with him. Burghardt couldn't quite close the gap, and when Albasini countered, he caught and passed Simon.
Geschke and Bakelandts joined the leading duo, then the rest of the group. After a desperate series of attacks and counter-attacks, it was going to come down to a group sprint. Albasini went hard down the left-hand side of the road, but Trentin appeared from way down the line and burst past Albasini to win. He'd stayed calm during the incessant attacking and chasing while others had lost their head, and was rewarded with the stage victory.
Tour de France 2013, stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule to Lyon, 191km
1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-QuickStep in 4-15-11
2. Michael Albasini (Sui) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp
4. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
5. Egoitz Garcia (Spa) Cofidis
6. Lars Bak (Den) Lotto-Belisol
7. Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano
8. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ
9. Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha
10. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar all same time
22. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky at 7-17
Overall classification after stage 14
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 55-22-58
2. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 2-28
3. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2-45
4. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 2-48
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 3-01
6. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 4-39
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-QuickStep at 4-44
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 5-18
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r at 5-39
10. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 5-48
12. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 5-54
Garmin's Andrew Talansky and David Millar in break
Matteo Trentin takes the victory
Tour de France 2013: Related links
Tour de France 2013 coverage index
Tour de France 2013: Stage reports
Stage 13: Cavendish wins, Valverde loses on stage 13
Stage 12: Kittel out-sprints Cavendish
Stage 11: Martin wins time trial as Froome extends lead
Stage 10: Kittel takes second stage win
Stage nine: Martin wins stage as Froome fights to keep lead
Stage eight: Froome wins Tour mountains stage to take overall lead
Stage seven: Sagan scores first win of 2013 Tour
Stage six: Greipel wins as Impey moves into lead
Stage five: Cavendish wins; Gerrans keeps lead
Stage four: Orica win Tour's team time trial to put Gerrans in yellow
Stage three: Gerrans outpaces Sagan to take win
Stage two: Millar denied yellow as Bakelants takes spoils
Stage one: Kittel wins chaotic opening stage
Tour de France 2013: Podcasts
Podcast six (stage nine)
Tour de France 2013: Comment, analysis, blogs
Moto blog part one (July 9)
Lessons learnt by Team Sky after Tour visits Pyrenees
Was Sunday (stage nine) a missed opportunity for Froome's rivals?
Rest day review (July 8)
Tour de France: 100 Tours, 1,000 stories
Tour de France 2013: Photo galleries
Stage 14 by Graham Watson
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Andy Jones
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Andy Jones
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Andy Jones
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Andy Jones
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Andy Jones
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Andy Jones
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Graham Watson
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