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Tour de France Men | Stage 13

06:11:27

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Here's how Cavendish equalled Eddy's record

Cavendish was boxed in more times than a warehouse of Amazon deliveries...
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Cavendish: 'Crashes manageable compared with mental health struggles'
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'It took a genius to unpick it!' - Cavendish's historic 34th stage win

Stage 13 top 10

It was Danny van Poppel who took fifth ahead of Alex Aranburu, Christophe Laporte, Andre Greipel, Magnus Cort and Jasper Stuyven, with Nacer Bouhanni and Michael Matthews coming 11th and 12th.

One-two for Deceuninck-QuickStep

It was such a strange sprint that because Ivan Garcia went early before Cav was led through the final corner by Morkov just as Philipsen opened up his sprint. Cav came from Morkov's wheel, powered past Gardia, got the better of Philipsen - all while Morkov kept it going to the line to take a superb second place.

Victory number 34 for Mark Cavendish!

It wasn't pretty and it wasn't orthodox - but Mark Cavendish has done it! He has equalled the record of the great Eddy Merckx with his fourth win of the race - and the 34th of his career. He has to freelance a bit and weave through some bodies - and then hold off Jasper Philipsen right at the end. Although the team effort is reflected in the fact that it was a one-two for QuickStep there with Michael Morkov taking second place!

Final kilometre

There's a bit of jostling between Cavendish and Jonas Richaert of Alpecin-Fenix but QuickStep then emerge onto the front as they take a tight right-hand bend and go under the flamme rouge. Two more big turns to come but Cav is in an ideal position as the others prepare - including DSM who power through for Cees Bol.

3km to go: QuickStep train in place

Cav is now sitting behind Morkov, Asgreen and Ballerini - but they're not on the front for now, with Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain taking a more prominent position. Then Mattia Cattaneo comes to the front for QuickStep, which will help things for the green jersey.

5km to go: Minnows on the front

We have riders from AG2R and Cofidis on the front at the moment with the other teams biding their time. We're about to hit the 4.5km marker so we may see the GC teams disappear after that...

8km to go: Morkov and Asgreen back in the mix

It looked like the QuickStep duo were out of the picture but they seem to be back now for their man, Cavendish. Wout van Aert, the Belgian champion, is also a big favourite today - he's on the wheel of the yellow jersey.

10km to go: Cavendish in fourth wheel

The green jersey is alert to the dangers here and is fourth in line behind teammate Davide Ballerini and with two Ineos riders, Omar Fraille, the Spanish champion, sticking to his wheel. Remember, GC times will be taken at 4.5km after an upgrade to the 3km rule today. Movistar now come to the front - perhaps they're preparing the way for Ivan Garcia?

15km to go: Pogacar alert to dangers

The yellow jersey has come to the front to keep out of trouble. Movistar, EF, Ineos and QuickStep are all present and correct - as is Sonny Colbrelli, who is sticking to the wheel of Mark Cavendish. There's a lot of road furniture and roundabouts which is making it quite stressful.

18km to go: Pacher caught; it's show time

It looks like it's all about to kick off as they catch the final rider up the road and then hit a long, straight, exposed road and Bora come to the front. Ineos Grenadiers are there too as they look to pile on the pressure - and we have some riders off the back, including Alaphilippe... So QuickStep will be without the world champion and Tim Declercq for the finale.

23km to go: Small crash in pack

There's a touch of wheels and two Qhubeka riders come to a standstill but without too much drama. Then, a bit later, Julian Alaphilippe pulls up - he must have a flat or some kind of mechanical issue. Pacher, meanwhile, only has 25 seconds now.

28km to go: Bakelants caught

The Belgian is back in the bunch after his brief foray up the road, so it's just Quentin Pacher now out ahead. The Frenchman has a gap of 1'10" on the pack and it's QuickStep with five riders on the front - most notably the world champion Julian Alaphilippe.

Lucas Hamilton abandons

Ah, Team BikeExchange are having a shocker today: the Australian is their second withdrawl of the day as he joins Simon Yates on the sidelines following that crash. Both riders would have been relishing the mountains as well - and suddenly, all the team has left to target is the green jersey for Michael Matthews.

35km to go: Bakelants has a pop

The Belgian veteran from Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rides up the road in pursuit of the lone leader, Pacher. No one reacts because, again, he's just a single rider, and once the sprinter teams up the tempo, their time will be up. Unless, of course, there's another crash or incident which slows things behind...

37km to go: Mechanical for Cavendish

The green jersey is off the back of the peloton after stopping to swap bikes. We don't know what was up but he's been renowned for being unhappy with his set up - whether it's the saddle or the gears or the seat post. He's picked a good time, though, because just moments later Jasper Philipsen also needs to change bikes because of a puncture. Those two will be the big favourites today, along with Bouhanni, Greipel, Bol, Matthews, Colbrelli and Van Aert...
It's worth remembering that both Bouhanni and Bol were involved in the crash and so perhaps they won't be at their best in the finale.

40km to go: 35 seconds for Pacher

The Frenchman is being allowed to dangle out there because everyone knows that there's no chance he'll be able to do this alone. The pace is high now as the stage enters the business end within an hour of the finish.

Simon Yates abandons

We're hearing that Britain's Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) has withdrawn after he was involved in that crash. He went down hard and it's not a surprise to see him call it quits given his Olympic ambitions. But it's a big shame because the Tour was about to enter his favoured terrain - the Pyrenees - and he now won't be able to ride through his adopted home of Andorra on Sunday.

45km to go: Pacher rolls the dice

The first rider to give it a go after that momentary post-crash lull is the Frenchman Quentin Pacher of B&B Hotels p/b KTM. He's gone clear as the road hugs the river Minerve - albeit high up above the cliffs of a picturesque gorge. It will be interesting to see how QuickStep cope in controlling things following that crash to Declercq - although they do have other riders who can do such a job, including Kasper Asgreen.

52km to go: All over for the break

The remaining two escapees - Omar Goldstein and Pierre Latour - share a fist pump as they're reabsorbed into the peloton after their time out ahead. There now seems to be a bit of an easing up following the crash as the peloton lets those affected chase back on. It looks like it wasn't Uran who went down for EF Education-Nippo but Sergio Higuita - that will be a relief given Uran is currently second on GC and riding a pretty flawless Tour very much under the radar.

55km to go: Roger Kluge abandons

Lotto Soudal's horror Tour continues with the withdrawal of the German Roger Kluge, who was involved in that big crash. The Belgian team are now down to just four riders. We can see the Spaniard Victor de la Parte of TotalEnergies who is receiving medical attention to a bleeding elbow alongside the medical car. Nacer Bouhanni went down too so that will put a dent in the Frenchman's chances for the sprint today - if indeed one happens.

57km to go: Bennett caught by pack

The yellow and green jerseys of Pogacar and Cavendish avoided the spills and they're near the front as Sean Bennett is reeled in by the pack. Julian Alaphilippe is on the front for QuickStep and making sure he's a presence if any riders ping up the road.

60km to go: Yates, Poels, Thomas and Declercq among the fallers

Simon Yates went down badly in that crash and he looks badly bashed up - albeit back on his bike. Soren Kragh Andersen was one of the riders who needed help retreiving his bike after being forced to climb through bushes up the slope and back onto the road. Rigo Uran, also, may have done down - although we will have to confirm that later.
We do know that Wout Poels (Bahrain-Victorious) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) went down, as did - pretty badly - Tim Declercq of QuickStep. That's cruel for the Belgian who had been working so hard until being brought tumbling down to earth.

62km to go: BIG CRASH IN THE PELOTON!

Oh now! Scores of riders are on the deck after a sweeping left-hand bend on a fast downhill stretch - just as the speed was up with those attacks on the front. And not only are there riders on the road and the verge, there are also many riders who have gone down a steep slope and into a bushy wooded area. Many of them are clambering up the slope with the help of their mechanics and others...

64km to go: Bennett dropped from break

The American who started this activity in the break has now been dropped after Goldstein counteres and took Latour with him. Bennett will be thumping himself for having bothered because he's in a world of pain now and seemingly cramping up.

67km to go: Attacks everywhere!

No sooner had Sean Bennett put in an opportunistic dig from the break than Philippe Gilbert threw down the hammer on the front of the peloton - from nowhere - to open up a gap with another rider and spark a mad flurry of activity behind. It may be that the wind has got up and some riders have sensed an opportunity of upsetting the apple cart. Alex Aranburu of Astana has used that Gilbert foray off the front as a launchpad for his own surge - and the Spaniard now has a QuickStep rider on his back wheel trying to snuff out the danger.

70km to go: Gap comes down

It's just 1'35" now for the three leaders who are seemingly on to a hiding for nothing in the heat. It will be interesting to see if anyone tries anything between now and the end of the stage - otherwise it's going to be a parade for Cavendish.

80km to go: Petr Vakoc the Alpecin man in the mix

The Alpecin-Fenix rider earning his stripes today is the Czech powerhouse Petr Vakoc, who will feel right at home amid the QuickStep train for he spent six years at the start of his career with the Belgian team. The 27-year-old's entire 2018 season was wiped out with a terrible back injury after a career-threatening training crash. But he's getting back to his best now with Alpecin-Fenix and will get a huge pat on the pack if teammate Jasper Philipsen goes on to win today.

90km to go: Magnus Cort the last winner in Carcassonne

The Dane from EF Education-Nippo won Stage 15 of the 2018 Tour when the race last came to Carcassonne. Riding for Astana, he was part of a large breakaway which split up on the approach to town. It was just him, Ion Izagirre and Bauke Mollema after they got rid of Michael Valgren (who set things up nicely for teammate Cort), Tom Skujins, Domenico Pozzovivo, Lilian Calmejane and Rafal Majka, and Cort was just too fast in the sprint.

95km to go: Gap dropping fast

The three leaders - Latour, Goldstein and Bennett - have seen one minute shaved off their advantage in the past five minutes as QuickStep pile on the pressure and string out the peloton on a section of exposed roads that could be buffeted by winds.

103km to go: QuickStep back on the front

After the fun of the intermediate sprint, Deceuninck-QuickStep have returned to the front - with help from a single Alpecin-Fenix rider - to control the gap, which is still around 2'50". It's going to take quite a lot to beat Cavendish today but the likes of Philipsen, Bouhanni, Matthews, Van Aert, Bol and Colbrelli will give it their best shot. And there's always the chance that someone tries to go long on the nervous approach to Carcassonne. On that, we've had it confirmed that the 3km rule will be extended to 4.5km today - so that may clean things up from the GC teams at the business end of the stage.

114km to go: Colbrelli cleans up

Sonny Colbrelli and Michael Matthews have too much uphill zip in their legs and they distance Cavendish before the line with the Italian champion taking the 13pts for fourth place ahead of the Australian (11pts). Michael Morkov was hoping Cav would come past him but he never did so it's the Dane who takes sixth (10pts) ahead of Jasper Philipsen (9pts) and Cavendish (8pts) ahead of Bouhanni (7pts) further back. So, Cavendish concedes 2pts to his nearest green jersey rival Matthews, having taken one extra point than the Australian yesterday. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

116km to go: Goldstein wins intermediate sprint

The Israeli rider from the break darts clear to beat Bennett to win the intermediate sprint at Fontes, with Latour settling for third. But the real battle will come a few minutes later when the peloton come through this sprint, which comes at the top of a little ramped climb into town.

125km to go: 'Perfect day for Cav,' says Wiggo

Just before spotting the former Paris-Roubaix winner Frédéric Guesdon in a passing car, Bradley Wiggings - back on the back of a motorcycle for Eurosport - explained just how well things are falling into place for the man in green today: "The wind didn't do what it promised to do and it's a perfect day for Cav - those three riders up the road are deadwood; they're going nowhere."
Wiggins also stressed how many speed bumps there have been today - making it hard for both the riders and the race entourage. Tricky for him, too, on the moto. 10km to go until the sprint with the gap still three minutes for our trio.

Some rather bold predictions from our panel...

Not everyone went for Mark Cavendish today, as you can see in our Predictor video which aired at the start of today's stage. Kasper Asgreen from Dan Lloyd was one of his less astute punts, you'd have to say. Although you never know what may happen between now and the finish...

Tour de France 2021 Stage 13 Expert Predictor - Who are our pundits tipping for victory?

140km to go: Back in the valley

The route rolled along on a plateau after that previous climb and now, after a gardual but zippy descent, the riders are down in the flat plains again where they will remain for the next 30km until the intermediate sprint. With only three riders up the road, we can expect a big battle for green jersey points at the sprint - which will be a dress rehearsal of sorts for the expected bunch sprint in Carcassonne. The gap has come down to three minutes now for our trio ahead.

150km to go: Alpecin-Fenix in the mix

They may have lost both Tim Merlier and Mathieu van der Poel - their two stage winners - but the Belgian team are hoping that Jasper Philipsen can take the win today. That's why they have committed one man to help QuickStep with the chase. It will be a big ask for the Belgian, who was beaten by Cav four times in the Tour of Turkey. But he's finished second twice and third twice, so he's definitely been there or thereabouts in the sprints.

162km to go: Deceuninck-QuickStep still lead the pack

It was that man Tim Declercq on the front of the peloton as it came over the summit of the last climb. The Belgian 'Breakaway Killer' shouldn't have too hard a job today what with only three men up the road - and none of them exactly big units in the mould of yesterday's leading quartet. Mark Cavendish was not troubled by that hill and he's on the front in his green jersey. Interestingly, the Manxman is not in a green skinsuit for a second day running... take from that what you will. The gap is 4'25".

168km to go: Cat.4 Cote du Pic Saint-Loup

And it's Pierre Latour who takes the point ahead of Sean Bennett after Omar Goldstein is tailed off near the top. What a lovely climb that was - a gentle 5.6km rise at 3.6% which weaves through the trees along a narrow and coarse road. Just the kind of place I'd love to be out on the bike right now. I did cycle through this region back in 2013 as part of my epic Barcelona to Rome ride when I wrote a book called Climbs and Punishment - a kind of cycling travelogue with a historical backdrop of Hannibal's march towards Rome with his 37 elephants. Seeing these roads in this kind of sunny weather brings it all back...
Bennett, the American, looked to be motivated for that single KOM point and it was he who put in the first attack near the summit. But the Frenchman Latour, who until recently was in the top 10, made a late move and then pipped his fellow escapee for the point. It's a bit late for either of them to start thinking about the polka dot jersey, but there is still the prize money and pride to think about...

175km to go: Four minutes for trio

Goldstein, Bennett and Latour are approaching the first and only categorised climb of the day with a gap of over four minutes. Latour is the best placed on GC but no threat to Pogacar - 1hr 21mins down. Lovely countryside here - loads of vines, dramatic ridges and rolling hills, with the constant clack-clack-clack of cicadas playing out as a soundtrack.

185km to go: Zimmermann is caught

No luck for the German who throws in the towel after his late attempt to join the break - a break which now has over three minutes to play with. There was an attempt by some others to get in the mix - Toms Skujins of Trek-Segafredo, notably - but that came to nothing.

190km to go: Peloton eases up

Deceuninck-QuickStep come to the front to block the peloton as the road narrows and that means these three riders will now open up a gap that should ensure their safety. One rider manages to squeeze between the blue wall - Georg Zimmermann of Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert - but he will have quite a battle to join the leaders because their gap is already one minute.
We needed that: the average speed over the first half hour was 54kmph.

193km to go: Another three go clear

Omer Goldstein (Israel Start-Up Nation), Sean Bennett (Qhubeka-NextHash) and Pierre Latour (Team TotelEnergies) manage to open a gap and this could be the one that sticks...

Abdel-Kader Zaaf - the Algerian trailblazer

As the race passes by Sommieres, our thoughts inescapably turn to Abdel-Kader Zaaf, who became a household name back in 1950 just down the road...
Sunstroke and a bottle of wine made Zaaf famous at the 1950 Tour after he passed out on his bike then, in a daze, rode back towards the peloton. A year later, the Algerian trailblazer finished last after launching the move that ended the grieving Fausto Coppi’s bid for yellow. Felix Lowe remembers a man who blurred the lines between myth and reality in this episode of Re-Cycle...

Abdel-Kader Zaaf (left) and Marcel Molinès during stage 13 of the 1950 Tour de France

Image credit: Getty Images

Here's a little snippet...
Lying in a Paris hospital bed three decades after the event for which he became most famous, Abdel-Kader Zaaf was happy to set the record straight. “Twenty kilometres from the finish, a guy offered me something to drink. I accepted, because it was as hot as the desert. I’m not a camel, you know.”
If Zaaf had already overcooked the metaphorical bend, this is perhaps where he skidded over the edge of the cliff. He’d been on the attack with his friend Marcel Molinès, a fellow member of the Tour’s first North African team in 1950. They were approaching the finish in Nîmes when disaster struck for Zaaf. Overcome by sunstroke and fatigue, he started to zigzag across the road, then fell. He got up; then fell again.
After he collapsed for a third time, Zaaf had to be pulled out of the ditch and attended to by the gathering spectators. Once revived, he remounted his bike and set off in the opposite direction. “Oh! Not far, a few metres,” Zaaf recalled. “That didn’t stop people from claiming I was drunk. Obviously, I smelt of booze, but that’s because they splashed my face with a bottle of plonk. Do you think I would have done 200km at 42kmh if I’d been drunk? I ask you.”

200km to go: Three go clear

Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-NextHash) and Lorenzo Rota (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) have a 10-second gap but they're battling a headwind and the peloton is giving them no leeway. Two more bridge over, then another three edge forward - then before we know it, the trio has been neutralised and we're back together as one peloton, strung out like a snake.

205km to go: 97 roundabouts today

We're hearing from Rob Hatch in the commentary box that this is a record for a stage on the Tour since 1996. We've already had about 15 of them on the outskirts of Nîmes as the race heads towards the sleepy town of Sommieres. Australia's Harry Sweeny of Lotto Soudal - who was third yesterday - is now riding on the front and trying to force a break.

210km to go: Fast and furious now

That slight lull didn't last long... the attacks then came in thick and fast and we had a group of about 20 go clear - including the forgotten man Chris Froome and at least two Deceuninck-QuickStep riders. It came to nothing once Tadej Pogacar - who was badly placed towards the back of the pack - came forward and helped with the chase in yellow.
Numerous roundabouts have made this a stressful start - plus there are just so many riders who want to be in the break. Even Mark Cavendish is now right up there, alert to the danger, and seemingly considering going on the attack...

220km to go: Stage 13 under way!

There's an ever-so-slight delay as we wait for Richard Carapaz to get back into the pack after the Ecuadorian had a mechanical issue during the neutral zone. But once everyone's present and correct, Christian Prudhomme waves the flag and the race is on! There's a crosswind coming from the right and although a handful or riders come to the front and show a little bit of early interest, it's in no way as feisty as yesterday and the pace is considerably closer. A nervous start...

Bonjour le Tour! Riders readying in the neutral zone...

The peloton is rolling out of Nîmes ahead of the official start of this all-important final flat day before the Pyrenees. Can Mark Cavendish level Eddy Merckx's record before the mountains or will he have to wait until he's battled through five days of hills and peaks and high-altitude finishes - and beaten the time cuts - before having another go in Stage 19 or Stage 21 in Paris?
On paper, it's a stage which suits Cavendish and the other sprinters - but if a strong break goes like yesterday then there's no guarantee it won't be caught, especially if Deceuninck-QuickStep don't get any help in controlling things. Just the one categorised climb on the menu - but it's a long stage of just under 220km, and it's very hot (30C) in the south of France. There's also a bit of wind...
https://i.eurosport.com/2021/07/09/3170237.jpg

Order restored by Politt as the Tour takes a step back from the epic

After a succession of epic and emotional performances since Julian Alaphilippe won on the opening day in Brest, normality returned to the Tour de France on Thursday with a welcome workmanlike victory from Nils Politt that was still no less impressive than those of his more illustrious predecessors. Felix Lowe on the day the 2021 Tour was brought back down to earth.
Politt's maiden win on the Tour won’t make the same headlines as some of the other triumphs we have seen since Alaphilippe swashbuckled into yellow in Brittany – nor will it be remembered by anyone as a focal point of the race, or even a particularly remarkable moment.
But it changed the life of the man who executed it with such aplomb and put a smile back on Bora-Hansgrohe’s face after Sagan’s farewell. And let’s be honest, we didn’t need a big battle for yellow or green again – just like, after a succession of Michelin starred meals, we often crave the simple pleasures of a burger. Politt gave us just that: a no-frills burger with fries and coleslaw. And it was bloody delicious.

Stage 12 recap - Politt 'rides like the wind' to win Stage 12 from breakaway

From a breakaway that included the world champion Julian Alaphilippe and fast finishers Andre Greipel, Edward Theuns and Luka Mezgec, Germany’s Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) played his cards right by attacking early to ensure Stage 12 did not come down to a sprint.
After blustery winds played early havoc and made for a hectic opening half-hour, the 27-year-old German got into a strong 13-man break that established a maximum lead of 16 minutes over the peloton.
Politt then went clear with fellow powerhouses Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal) and Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) with 40km remaining of the 159.5km stage through the breathtakingly beautiful Ardèche region of southern France. The rangy rouleur proceeded to ride his rivals off his wheel with just under 10km remaining – never looking back as he time trialled himself to a maiden Tour win in his fifth appearance.
Read the full report here.

Stage 12 highlights: Politt triumphs from breakaway, Cavendish takes sprint behind

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