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TdF #20 Peraud and Konig lead the race against the clock

July 27, 2014

Individual time trials are not often great entertainment. They lack the battles of the big sprinters or little climbers. However, they are very important in big races. Riders must do it all alone. No team mates to help you along, no other wheels to follow, no-one to break the wind. Tactics are of little use here, it is all in the legs and the head.

Martin is the best in this type of cycling and today was no different, he was a class above and stomped all over the field.

Nibali also had little to achieve except get around safely. No pressure often equals decent performance, so his cruise was also reasonably fast.

The real interest was further back on GC. There were battles for the minor podium places (Pinot, Peraud and Valverde), 5th (Bardet & van Garderen), 7th (Mollema, Ten Dam, Konig & Zubeldia). Each of those told a story of success, misfortune and despair.

The battle between youngster Pinot and old mountain biker Peraud was top billing. The result was as predicted. Peraud powered calmly around the course, even when a puncture required a bike change, and finished strongly. Pinot lost his head late in the stage. He was tapping his ear and waving at his team car. Signs of lack of communication perhaps, but more important of him losing his rag. Pinot could only afford to lose a few seconds but ended losing much more. Valverde was off his game and looked very tired. A mediocre performance to match the rest of his tour. He cannot blame cross wind and a puncture for his failure to stand on the podium this year.

Bardet also punctured like his team mate but did not handle the disruption so well. He struggled to regain his rhythm and ended up losing his place to the strong American by only two seconds. Heartbreak for the young Frenchman but he has had a great tour and has many more years to try again.

There was more drama further back. Konig had a superb ITT and overtook both Dutchman, who had a nightmare of a day. Mollema looked like he could hardly ride his bike and was almost last. Zubeldia had another strong silent forgettable day and will finish eighth, which sounds remarkably like many other tours.

The last day is traditionally a celebration for those that have made it this far, and a final dash for the sprinters. The jerseys are decided, but who can win the biggest sprint in the cycling world? Kittel will be favourite but he has been suffering in the mountains. So the sprint will be a exciting contest between a dozen of the fast men.

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