Orica-GreenEdge and Lotto-Belisol played poker today during the 15th stage of the 2012 Tour de France to Pau and neither won. The stalemate saw an escape get enough time and end the sprinters' chance of winning.
"We can't put our guys on the front day in and day out. It's 35 degrees and it's really hot. If we use three guys to ride, then we have three less guys to use in the final," Orica's Matt Goss explained. He recovered in the shade of the team's bus in a parking lot in Pau's centre.
"The teams with the complete teams would then come over us, and chances are we are not going to win the stage anyway. We played the first week well, we rode with Lotto quite a lot but in this middle week, no one wants to take a bit of responsibility. We took our chances at just saying 'no' today."
Lotto-Belisol looked to Orica-GreenEdge, but found only blank faces. Orica was down one man with today's abandon of Brett Lancaster, who crashed a few days ago and suffered from a chest infection. Goss can still rely on Daryl Impey for lead-outs - he has taken two third places and one second so far - but decided to play poker.
André Greipel led Lotto to three stage wins in this Tour. Mark Cavendish (Sky) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won the other sprints. Their teams, however, are thinking about the overall classification with Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas).
After tomorrow's rest day, they face the race's final mountain legs to Bagnères-de-Luchon and Peyragudes. So, the 158.5km from Samatan to Pau today just became a western-style showdown with no shots fired.
With 11km remaining, the time advantage of the leading six shot up to 11-40 minutes. Sky patrolled the peloton just to keep Wiggins in front, where it wants him to finish in Paris on Sunday.
"Their big goal is to win the Tour de France," Goss continued. "They've won a stage with Mark and I fully understand why they are not putting guys on the front. If we were here to win the Tour, I wouldn't expect to have half the team riding for me on the front. They have a big goal and hats off to them; they are sitting in a good position at the moment."
Goss remains without a win. He's slightly bitter due to a race jury decision to regulate him in a sprint, costing him important green jersey points, and because Lotto benefited from Orica's work on the 13th stage to Cap d'Agde on Saturday.
Two more possible sprint stages remain before the end, Brive-la-Gaillarde on Friday and the final day in Paris.
"We have to pick and choose," Goss added. "We can't ride ourselves to death every day."
Tour de France 2012: Latest news
Evans suffers multiple punctures after Tour tack attack
Froome not winning this year's Tour is 'very great sacrifice'
Frank Schleck criticises 'boring' Tour de France
Wiggins: Cycling's new boss?
Wiggins still Sky's main man as Tour heads towards Pyrenees
Millar's Tour win comes after 'second chance'
Froome explains his attack on La Toussuire
Nibali fails to crack Sky but pleased with Tour mountains performance
Roche ready to achieve career-long Tour top ten ambition
Wiggins: 'I'm not some s**t rider that's come from nowhere
Nibali hits out at Wiggins after Tour frustration
Cavendish enjoying new Tour role
Wiggins taking nothing for granted in 'dream scenario'
Sky keeping Tour focus on Wiggins
Di Gregorio arrested by police at Tour de France
Tour de France 2012: Teams, riders, start list
Tour 2012: Who will win?
Tour de France 2012 provisional start list
Tour de France 2012 team list
Tour de France 2012: Stage reports
Stage 15: Fedrigo wins, day off for peloton
Stage 14: Sanchez solos to Foix victory to save Rabobank's Tour
Stage 13: Greipel survives climb and crosswinds to win third Tour stage
Stage 12: Millar wins Tour stage nine years from his last
Stage 11: Wiggins strengthens Tour lead as Evans slips back
Stage 10: Voeckler wins and saves his Tour
Stage nine: Wiggins destroys opposition in Besancon TT
Stage eight: Pinot solos to Tour win as Wiggins fights off attacks
Stage seven: Wiggins takes yellow as Froome wins stage
Stage six: Sagan wins third Tour stage
Stage five: Greipel wins again as Cavendish fades
Stage four: Greipel wins stage after Cavendish crashes
Stage three: Sagan runs away with it in Boulogne
Stage two: Cavendish takes 21st Tour stage victory
Stage one: Sagan wins at first attempt
Prologue: Cancellara wins, Wiggins second
Tour de France 2012: Comment, analysis, blogs
Analysis: What we learned at La Planche des Belles Filles
Analysis: How much time could Wiggins gain in Tour's time trials
CW's Tour de France podcasts
Blog: Tour presentation - chasing dreams and autographs
Comment: Cavendish the climber
Tour de France 2012: 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 Graham Watson
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Andy Jones
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Prologue photo gallery by Andy Jones
Prologue photo gallery by Roo Rowler
Prologue photo gallery by Graham Watson
Tour de France 2012: Team presentation
Sky and Rabobank Tour de France recce
Tour de France 2012: Live text coverage
Stage 10 live coverage
Stage nine live coverage
Stage six live coverage
Stage five live coverage
Stage four live coverage
Stage three live coverage
Cycling Weekly's live text coverage schedule
Tour de France 2012: TV schedule
ITV4 live schedule
British Eurosport live schedule
Tour de France 2012: Related links
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
Brief history of the Tour de France
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
1989: The Greatest Tour de France ever
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