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TdF #2 Nibali grabs yellow

July 10, 2014

The weather was kind, the spectators incredibly supportive but the course was hard. Similar to many spring classics, the short tough climbs took their toll and eventually Kittel and the other big sprinters were dropped. In the later climbs, even more were dropped.

Whatever the course, it is the riders that make a stage tough, and on this occasion it was Garmin who really pushed on one of the harder climbs nearer the end. This split the peleton and only a small group were left, most of them the GC favourites. With few team mates to control the pace, it was individuals trying to break clear of the group and the rest trying to catch up. Froome sprinted to the top on one of the last climbs, perhaps only to gain first position for the descent that followed.

What was interesting in this smaller peleton was who might go for a stage win, even if that might mean using up energy on a stage that could not decide the overall race. Every rider that tried hard to break free hinted to me that glory on one day was worth losing energy that might cost the win or podium later.

Nibali gained enough of a gap about 2km to go and with no team helpers left, the remainder look at each other instead of chasing him down. He won the stage in great style in his new Italian jersey, and with his 2s gap also wins the yellow jersey.

Did anyone lose out? Kittel obviously lost yellow but did any GC favourites lose time. Frank, Rolland, F Schleck, and Konig lost a few seconds. A Schleck lost a few more. Some others like Voeckler, Kadri, Rodriguez and Westra confirmed they are not interested in GC by losing more than 10 minutes.

However, an early stage win and yellow jersey come with mixed blessings. Astana will now need to control the race, chase breaks and work harder. Nibali should enjoy his win, but at what cost for his ambitions regarding the overall race.

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