Bauer's Tour de France dream shattered
Commiserations for Jack Bauer flow after the Kiwi cyclist was reduced to tears when he had a famous stage victory in the Tour de France snatched from him early today in Nimes.
Bauer put in an unbelievable ride for 222 kilometres, but it all came to nothing with the finish line in sight as the chasing pack caught up and overtook. No New Zealander has won a stage on the Tour de France.
Fellow Kiwi Greg Henderson, who suffered his own Tour de France heartbreak last week when he crashed out, seriously injuring a knee, offered his sympathy to Bauer via Twitter.
"Arrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! Jack!!!!! Poor Jack. Oh Jack. Im Bleeding for you. Amazing ride," he posted on Twitter.
The Guardian's cycling correspondent William Fotheringham also shared commiserations.
"In the shadow of the Roman Arena, Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger made a doomed attempt to win the stage in a finish redolent of a pair of gladiators being put to the sword after being given the thumbs up.
"After spending every pedal turn of the 222km stage - the third longest of the race - in front, all of seven pedal revolutions separated Bauer from the finish line when Kristoff swept past him.
Bauer, of the Garmin-Sharp team, and Swiss champion Martin Elmiger of the IAM Cycling team, led the stage from the starter's gun as the race rolled away from the Alpine town of Tallard on stage 15 of the Tour.
The pair stayed clear through Provence and the Midi, battling through a storm and entering the suburbs of the Roman city with almost a minute advantage on the main field.
They still had their lead in tact with a kilometre to go. With just a few hundred metres to go Bauer made his move, leaving Elmiger behind in a sprint for the line.
Then disaster struck. Tiring legs came into play and a clutch of sprinters led by Alexander Kristoff of Norway got past Bauer with just 50 metres to go.
Across the finish line Bauer was inconsolable.
Tapping his head on his helmet and sighing heavily, he leaned over his bike and burst into tears. "It's a childhood dream to try to win a stage of the Tour, especially for a Kiwi, because not many of us ever get the chance. I really gave it absolutely everything," Bauer said.
"I hadn't planned on it being a two-man move, because 222km, with just two of you in the breakaway, is a pretty big day."
"As you could see from my meltdown at the finish line I was pretty disappointed.
"That's Grand Tour racing for you. You have so many highs and so many lows. Today was a small chance for a high."
He ended up finishing in 10th place and 144th overall for the tour. Elmiger was 16th to be placed 60th overall.
The chasing pack had timed its creep up on the duo to perfection, though winner Kristoff said ''it was a little bit late for comfort''.
''Of course, that's a pity for them, but I don't feel sorry for them,'' said Kristoff, noting that sprinters usually reign in such stages.
''Normally, the break should never have had a chance, but they did. They were really strong guys ... That must have been really hard.''
Tour leader Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who finished in the pack, retained the yellow jersey. He led Spain's Alejandro Valverde, in second, by 4:37, and Romain Bardet of France in third, 4:50 behind. American Tejay van Garderen trailed in fifth, 5:49 back.
Nibali, the leader of Kazakh team Astana, was looking likely to take home the yellow jersey when the three-week race finished next Sunday in Paris.
Some of his best-placed rivals have already said the contest was now more for a podium spot below him.
The Italian has shown race savvy - such as by gaining time on tricky cobblestone patches in stage two and nearly insurmountable dominance on high climbs. He won stage 13's entree into the Alps, and was second a day later, also in the snow-capped mountains.
Tomorrow was a rest day before the race headed into three days in the Pyrenees mountains.
- Stuff, with AP