Before the Tour de France, if someone had told you that RadioShack would get its first real glory in July on Stage 10 by way of Sergio Paulinho, you would have laughed, admit it. Unfortunately for France, Paulinho took his first mass start race win since September 2006 at the Vuelta…on Bastille Day. In fact, France was completely shut out out of the podium with Portuguese Paulinho in first, Belorussian Kiryienka in second, and QuickSteps young Belgian Dries Devenyns in third.
Stage 10 took the riders out of the Alps with a start in Chambery and a finish in the 19-time finishing town of Gap. There was no doubt that a break would dominate the day’s proceedings, the only question is when it would go. Lampre did their damnedest to keep things together at least until the first intermediate sprint, which they did with aplomb, and allowed Alessandro Petacchi to pick up some desperately needed points in the green jersey sweepstakes.
Right after that, however, it was time for the break to bid adieu to the warm arms of the field. Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Dries Devenyns (QuickStep), Sergio Paolinho (RadioShack) and Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne) were first to get free.
Andy Schleck had a quiet first day in yellow with no problems = good day.
At this point, there was not a single Frenchman represented in the move of the day – unacceptable. Just to make things interesting, the French duo of Maxime Bouet (AG2R) and Pierre Rolland (BBox) spotted the break two minutes before setting off in pursuit. 30 kilometers later, and the two made the juncture, after that, it was just a matter of staying attached along the rest of the route, which included 3000 meters of climbing. Not bad for what turned out to be an easy-ish day.
The action was quiet throughout the stage. Saxo Bank had control over the front of the field, kept the gap under control, and Andy Schleck could enjoy a quiet day in the Maillot Jaune. Andy will be working hard again on Friday as the race hits the small but very steep uphill finish on the Col du Laurent Jalabert in Mende.
Kiryienka and Paulinho left their erstwhile breakmates behind on the final climb of the day.
Up ahead, the break cooperated well all the way to the final non-categorized climb. All of the riders had made it over the Category 2 Col du Noyer, but the small climb in the waning moments of the stage proved to be the launching pad necessary for glory.
Omega Pharma’s Mario Aerts went first. He was followed by Belgian rival Devenyns, but both were found massively lacking when Olympic silver medalist, Sergio Paulinho, accelerated smoothly past. Caisse d’Epargne’s Kiryienka battled back up to his wheel, and it was off to the races for the day’s 1-2 finishers.
Aerts, Devenyns, and Frenchman Rolland chased gamely, but lost 88 seconds on the line.
The descent might have looked familiar to viewers though, it had a certain tarry, arid, twisting look, something about the 2003 Tour de France, ah yes, that’s it: it’s one of the most thrilling descents in Tour de France history.
Rewind seven years, Lance is under constant attack, Alexandre Vinokourov is off the front, heading toward a rock a bye baby stage victory, and there’s the turn, call it Beloki Bend. ONCE’s Joseba Beloki, in the midst of his best Tour de France ever, and truly threatening Lance Armstrong’s dominance, hits a piece of melted tarmac, rolls his tire, then slams to the pavement. Armstrong, on his wheel, takes evasive maneuvers and heads straight into the field, rides across it, hops off cyclocross style, and then remounts as the group comes back around the switchback.
Fast forward back to the present, and the turn that effectively ended the career of Beloki is decorated with yellow steps to commemorate the path that Lance Armstrong took in a move that saved his Tour de France. The race passes the turn with no incident, but the view is almost eerie.
Back To Business
Nicolas Roche attacked late on the non-categorized climb, navigated the nasty descent with ease, and managed to make a nice move up the standings with his hard-earned 21 seconds on the line. Remi Pauriol of Cofidis also managed to slip free of the stranglehold in the peloton to take 8th on the day. All of this slipping away meant that the Tour’s leading sprinters were going for 9th place.
Paulinho timed his acceleration perfectly and got enough of an initial gap to hold off Kiryienka on the line.
Lampre put together another solid leadout with Danilo Hondo doing the business for Petacchi. Petacchi started the sprint early as he is want to do and had the measure of Green Jersey, Thor Hushovd. Unfortunately for Petacchi, Mark Cavendish was right there and beat all comers with ease. You’d be foolish not to put your money on Cavendish in tomorrow’s stage.
Stage 10 Results
1 Sergio Paulinho (Por) Team Radioshack 5:10:56
2 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d’Epargne
3 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step 0:01:29
4 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
5 Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:01:33
6 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:20
7 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:12:58
8 Rйmi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis 0:13:57
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia 0:14:19
10 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
11 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
12 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
General Classification After 10 Stages
1 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 49:00:56
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:41
3 Samuel Sбnchez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:45
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:02:58
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma 0:03:31
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:03:59
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:04:22
8 Luis Leуn Sбnchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:04:41
9 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:05:08
10 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:09
11 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:05:11
12 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin – Transitions 0:05:42
13 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:23
14 Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana 0:06:31
15 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC – Columbia 0:07:04
16 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:07:13
17 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 0:07:18
18 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:07:47