What? No radios? Yes, Virginia, no radios. At the start town, apparently the organizers and riders made a deal – no radios allowed today but they will be allowed Friday. And so it was. Despite all the bitching and moaning in the time leading up to this day, the riders indeed shoved off on their 194.5 km journey from Limoges northward to Issoudun radioless. With only four Cat 4 climbs to contest and it being the French’s day, you could bet the house on two things – one, there would be a breakaway, and two, it would have some Frenchmen in it riding their guts out to take the win. And so it was….
The bunch came to the line with Columbia leading the way and Cavendish in tow. What do you think happened?
Thierry Hupond (Skil-Shimano), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), Benoit Vaugrenard (FdJ) and Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) made their bid for victory early by escaping together shortly after the 4k mark and immediately established a modest gap. With the rest day yesterday, some bodies were bound to react differently and these four escapees hoped between that X factor, no radios, and national pride they’d be holding off the charging pack behind.
Behind, the group kept the break on a fairly short leash as the sprinters were licking their chops thinking of the battle ahead most notably between Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd, separated by only 11 points. Guys like Ciolek and Friere could claw themselves back into the competition with a win today as well so the charge to the line was sure to be a hot one. Of course, guys like Boonen had to be thinking of snaring a win, too. Of note, poor old Kurt Arvesen of Saxo Bank was spending a lot of time at the back or at the doctor’s car after a mid-race tumble.
At about 30km to go the peloton sat at 1:30 behind the break of 4, clearly letting them fry and waiting to bring them in the boat before the sprint fireworks began. Instead of the front of the field being amassed with Columbia-HTC riders, the business end of the race featured the hopeful teams: Quick-Step, Milram, and Rabobank all put a few chasers on point.
The other sprinter’s teams just had to be thinking “how the hell do we beat this kid?” as they approached the finish town. Garmin made noises before the stage about taking off with 700m to go to try to confuse the Columbia juggernaut. Other teams had to be thinking of how to unlock the puzzle as well.
Cav gave credit to his win today either to Oakley for his green glasses or the color green.
With 5k to go the Columbia boys moved up to the front flanked by the Garmin team with a smattering of Milram and Quick Step involved as well. Up front the 4 leaders went all out to survive as long as possible. Ignatiev took a dig at the 3 k mark but his move came back quickly. And shortly thereafter the break was altogether swallowed up by the peloton as they sped toward the line.
Columbia formed the point and did what they do best: dropped Cavendish off with a clean look at the line. Tyler Farrar tried his early move but never got over the yellow team, and Hushovd stayed glued to Cavendish to take second. It never seems to be in doubt when Cav gets his leadout train in order. There’s one word for it: dominant.
Stage 10 Results
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia – HTC
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Slipstream
4 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
6 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
8 William Bonnet (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
10 Saпd Haddou (Fra) BBOX Bouygues Telecom
General Classification After Ten Stages
1 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:06
3 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana 0:00:08
4 Andreas Klцden (Ger) Astana 0:00:54
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana
6 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia – HTC 0:01:00
7 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin – Slipstream 0:01:01
8 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin 0:01:24
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:49
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas 0:01:54