Riblon Takes First Stage by Frenchman in 2013 Tour de France
Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has given France its first stage win of this year’s Tour de France, and he has taken his second career Tour stage win. The Ag2r-La Mondiale man surged past Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in the last two km to win Stage 18, a mountainous, 168.5-km ride from Gap to Alpe d’Huez, in 4:51:32. Van Garderen finished second at 0:59, and Moreno Moser (Cannondale) took third at 1:27. Chris Froome (Sky) remains the maillot jaune.
Briton clawed his way back to the Colombian’s wheel. Valverde and Porte attacked and dropped Contador. With 10 km left and 4:20 separating the yellow jersey group from van Garderen, Rodriguez rejoined the yellow jersey group. Froome, realizing that Contador was in difficulty, attacked again.
Quintana attacked, and Rodriguez and Froome joined the Movistar man. Quintana attacked again and gapped the Sky man. Froome joined Rodriguez, and Porte joined the pair. The yellow jersey group was 3:35 behind van Garderen, who had about five km left to ride, and 3:05 behind Riblon.
Froome, who was suffering from hunger knock, raised his hand for the team car, but the car did not turn up. Quintana attacked, and the yellow jersey was unable to follow. Porte dropped back to the team car, retrieved energy gels, and took them to his captain. Quintana and Rodriguez would gain a minute on the Briton, while Froome received a 0:20 penalty for an illegal feed.
Ahead, van Garderen was weakening, and Riblon was reeling him in. With three km left, the American’s lead, which had been 0:45, was 0:22 and falling. With two km left, the Frenchman drew level with the BMC man and attacked immediately. With one km remaining, Riblon led van Garderen by 0:22. He used the final 500 m to celebrate, punching the air with both hands and kissing a medallion.
Ag2r-La Mondiale had sought to win stages and to place Jean-Christophe Peraud in the top 10. Peraud, however, crashed out of the Tour in Stage 17, and until today, the French squad had not won a stage. Riblon’s win has boosted the team’s morale. “…five kilometers from the finish line I thought it would be difficult to win, and I was focused on the 2nd place. My sports director, Julien Jurdie, moved towards me and told me that I have to continue to believe in victory, that Van Garderen was not in his best shape. He was right! At three kilometers to go, I see Tejay has the behaviour of someone who is in trouble. I told myself that this was my chance and that I must try to catch him. When I caught him…I definitely wanted to leave him behind and it went incredibly well.
"I want to pull a hat off to the Ag2r-La Mondiale team that has fought well since the start of the Tour de France. We have not had luck with two riders, including our leader, who had to withdraw because of fractures. We wanted to lift up our heads to fight and continue this Tour as well as we started it. Although the three stages on the Alps were not necessarily suited to breakaways, we had to take our chance and to make our own destiny. This is what we did today, and it is a good sign for my teammates tomorrow and after tomorrow. We have to continue to fight, we are not yet in Paris!”
In the overall, Froome leads Contador by 5:11 and Quintana by 5:32. Stage 19 will be no easier than Stage 18,