The break of the day comprised of the following 6 riders who took their leave inside of the first 15km, and they were Di Gregorio (AST), Vichot (FDJ), Minard (COF), El Fares (COF), Marcato (VCE) and Delaplace (SAU). And it stayed as business as usual for the majority of the stage as the break toiled up ahead, and the sprinter’s teams kept the time gap in check. A few minor crashes happened throughout the day, as well as an interesting mechanical where Thor held on to the team car while his car worked on his left shoe. Some balance required there to take his shoe on and off at 40km/hr! Also of note was Philip Gilbert having dyed his hair platinum blonde…..we’ll try to get more on that for you later.
An historic day for Andre Greipel – beating his old boss in a two-up duel.
Under 20km to go, the pace was being driven along up the final climb on today’s lumpy course by Omega Pharma Lotto, to defend Gibert’s green jersey but also perhaps try to jettison some of the bigger sprinters before the finish. The pressure was intense, and some riders were indeed shown the door, while the remaining peloton was in a long line. Gilbert himself took a hard pull to keep the speeds high.
While Omega Pharma Lotto were trying to kill off sprinters, they succeeded in killing off the break too, as they swept that fragmented group.
The stage was by no means flat, so a bit of strategy might go a long way.
Under 10km and Cofidis tried to counter the move with Tony Gallopin, which both Gilbert and Voeckler sniffed out and along with a Quick Step rider made a quartet for a moment. Tony Martin bridged as well for HTC to make the group 5, and to most likely signal that Cav didn’t have the mustard to keep the wheel. Soon the quintet had 8 seconds on the group, and the group wasn’t so big anymore due to the attrition from just a few km’s ago, but it started to swell as riders recovered and rejoined.
As the peloton was driven on by the likes of Jens Voigt and others, the big sprinters were seen having reintegrated the group as we swung under 10km to go with 15 seconds separating this somewhat curious break group and the what was left of the main field.
The break was in trouble as Jens again went to the front to close down the gap. Looks like with all sprinters on board that their teams would be putting in the effort to make sure the escapees came back. Also, doubtful that Tony Martin would continue to help knowing Cavendish was coming back.
Thomas Voeckler was by no means defensive, as he animated a cheeky move inside 10km.
So Gilbert threw caution (and perhaps common sense) to the wind and attacked the break and immediately went into time trial mode, while the others from the break were resigned to packdom.
Under the 5km mark, Gilbert was cracked and the group swept him up on a small incline. Brave move by Gilbert, and we suppose you can’t win if you don’t play.
A few of these last uphills saw a few more quick digs by the various smaller teams, while behind the sprinter’s teams kept the pace high, dooming any attacks.
Under 3km and HTC was in charge, though depleted, for Cavendish. Garmin tried to throw a spanner in the works and sent David Millar off the front but the move was reeled in right away by HTC. HTC had lost both Renshaw and Goss, so Cav’s powerful leadout was a bit hurt.
Under 1km to go, two very sharp bends to manage, and through the 1st turn Omega Pharma Lotto pulled like mad….Thor was in the frame, Feillu, Greiepel. Turn 2 came and went, and Cavendish appeared out of nowhere to begin his sprint. Locked on his wheel was Andre Griepel, who then came around him to make it a mano y mano fight. Both riders stomped on their bikes, rocking and rolling and at the line, the man from Omega Pharma Lotto was first across.
It’s easier to let your legs do the talking when they look like this.
Stage 10 Results
1 Andrй Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3:31:21
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad
3 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
5 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7 Sйbastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
9 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
10 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
General Classification After Ten Stages
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 42:06:32
2 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:49
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:02:26
4 Frдnk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:29
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:37
6 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:02:38
7 Peter Velits (Svk) HTC-Highroad
8 Andreas Klцden (Ger) Team RadioShack 0:02:43
9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:02:55
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:03:08