The heat continued to belt down on the peloton as riders negotiated temperatures nearing 40 degrees Celsius during Stage 13. While the GC hitters marked each other all the way to the finish line, and Movistar reported a Pyreneen hangover, the warm conditions favoured Orica-GreenEDGE team, who appeared to finally get their Tour back on track.
Saturday 18 Jul 2015

The Movistar team felt the effects of their one-two attack on Chris Froome (Sky) in Stage 12, where Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde challenged the race leader repeatedly on the way to a rain soaked summit. A statement on the Movistar webstie likened the aftermath to a hangover.

Given the team's valient effort on Stage 12, Quintana found the impact of the Stage 13 heat particularly strong.

“It was another day of terrible heat, with lots of small climbs, some points where winds blew hard... the day wasn't really easy.

"That makes a harder impact as we're still suffering from the Pyrenees. Our objective during the next few days will be recovering as much as we can and find the Alps in order to attack, but we're conscious that there are no easy days and there could be some battle tomorrow.

"Difficult finishes are still to come before the rest day, with roundabouts, descents... and likely crashes force us to keep entirely focused and at the front. We'll all keep working to avoid any troubles and, if necessary, surely Alejandro will help me out to leave Froome alone into the last week. But there's much remaining before that." - Nairo Quintana.

Desptie feeling hungover and heat-affected, both Quintana and Valverde finished the stage in the select group containing the main GC contenders and retain their third and fourth positions in the overall classification.

Some riders tried everything they could to cool down, with a post race shower feeling like a victory all of its own.

Alberto Contador's hopes of winning the Tour de France are slipping away, but rather than complain about the elements of the race he can't control, like the weather, the Tinkoff-Saxo team leader is focusing on the elements that he can. 

“It’s going to be hard to beat Froome," said Contatdor. "Head to head it will be hard, but we need to see what will happen if the other teams also attack from a long distance.

"If we wait until the last climb, it will be too difficult to make up time. But in this moment, I need to go day by day and recover after these many hot days and I will see what my legs can do in the Alps.”

Australian team-mate Michael Rogers was on hand to help with hydration. 

Orica-GreenEDGE rider, and stage winner at this year’s Giro d’Italia, Michael Matthews was back fighting for the stage finish, marking a turning point in his recovery from the ribs he cracked in the horrific crashes that marred Stage 3.

“I definitely got sick of being dropped each day,” said Matthews, who has battled through the last week and a half of the Tour hoping to come good. 

“I thought today I would have a go at it. I was positioned well and the team did a really good job in helping to bring the breakaway back, I just didn’t quite have the legs in the final few hundred metres.”

“If your luck is going to turn around, you are the ones that have to do it,” said the team’s sport director, Matt White.

“It was a perfect finish for a healthy Michael Matthews,” added White. “We still have goals for a stage win and that’s why we gave Michael the best opportunity we could today.”

Matthews finished the stage in 17th, 17 seconds behind the winner. Not quite the result the team were hoping for, but a good sign of things to come, especially given the injury is still healing.

Watch the rest of the action from the stage in Orica-GreenEDGE’s latest Backstage Pass:

 

Having grown up in Africa, Chris Froome was another rider who was happy to race in the heat. He maintained his lead on the overall classiciation, finishing the day's uphill sprint in sixth position.

"There are some tired bodies out there. It was really hot, but I much prefer those conditions to how it was yesterday with the rain and cold. I’m happy with how things went. I didn’t lose time to anyone and got through it without any major issues, and we’re another day closer to Paris.

"Today’s climb was only 500m long but there were gaps opening up, and the finish up to Mende tomorrow could be quite selective again. It’s three kilometres long but quite steep at over 10 per cent, so I’d expect the GC contenders to be putting the pressure on. My legs are feeling good though, so I’m looking forward to it." - Chris Froome.

AG2R La Mondiale's Jean-Christophe Peraud tore his light weight kit to shreds during a heavy fall earlier in the stage. The heat was the least of his worries as cameras zoomed in on what was left of his bibshorts. We won't show you those images, but we were glad to see the battered Frenchman make it safely accross the finish line, ready to fight another day.