Stage 10 saw the first HC climb of the Tour and although the stage didn’t finish at the top of the climb, attacks on the yellow jersey were certainly expected.
With the first HC climb of the tour being tackled today but a big descent after, the stage was perfect for the attackers.
What wasn’t expected was that it would be green jersey leader, Peter Sagan doing the attacking at the start of the stage in order to get away early and claim the intermediate sprint points a full 130km later. Sagan’s biggest rival for the jersey, Orica-Greenedge’s Matty Goss wasn’t going to let Sagan up the road easily though. Consequently Greenedge kept Sagan’s break of 3 in check before launching Simon Gerrans and Goss up the road in a huge counter attacking group. This group of 25 pushed extremely hard and as there wasn’t any big GC favorites in there, SKY eventually let them go to form the break of the day.
Amongst the 25 riders in front were 2 BMC riders for Evans, (Burghadt & Cummings), 2 Europcars (Voeckler and Arashiro) and 2 RadioShack-Nissans (Voigt & Popovych). This was a good move for RadioShack and the team’s classification as before the stage they were leading SKY by just 1m25s. Incidentally RadioShack were not wearing the yellow helmets to signify their lead as requested by the organizers as both they and Katusha voted against this new system before the Tour started and are the only teams on Tour without yellow helmets in their trucks.
The first difficulty of the day was the Cote de Corlier which was disputed amongst the group of 25 who had a seven minute lead over the SKY led peloton and it was today’s Pez interviewee, Michael Morkov who took the points ahead of Andrei Grivko (Astana) and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan).
Next difficulty for the break was the intermediate sprint which was hotly contested between the first and second placed riders in the classification Sagan & Goss with the 20th place Hutarovich (FDJ) mixing it in there just to complicate things. Goss was happy that Hutarovich did sprint though as Goss won the sprint and Hutarovich just pipped Sagan for 2nd meaning that Goss clawed back 5 precious points in the race for green.
The big difficulty of the day, the Col du Grand Colombier started shortly after the sprint and the group of 25 quickly became a group of 4 as Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Michele Scarponi (Lampre), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Dries Devenyns (Omega-Pharma-Quickstep) rode away from the rest. Voeckler crested the summit first to claim the new lead in the polka dot jersey competition whilst back in the peloton virtually nothing happened as team SKY dominated.
Voeckler certainly has one of the best suffering faces in the peloton and today was no exception as he huffed and puffed his way to the lead in the mountains competition.
There were always at least 3 or 4 SKYs at the front of the peloton and no one tried to dislodge them except for some very minor attacks on the front by Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) which were very quickly nullified.
That changed on the descent though where Nibali attacked and opened very quickly a 40second gap over the SKY led peloton but by the time the race arrived on the last climb of the day, the Col de Richemond with 25km remaining he was caught and the peloton had regrouped.
The four out front continued to work well together, maintaining their three minute gap with a further minute back to a group of four chasers that included Sandy Casar (FDJ) and Jens Voigt.
Back in the peloton now as they neared the top of the Col, Van den Broeck tried again to attack the peloton and this time his efforts were less tentative and he got away with Pierre Rolland (Europcar) for company. With over a 3 minute gap to the Voeckler group this wasn’t an attack for the stage win, rather for the GC and the two worked well together to try and build up a gap over Wiggins and co.
Van den Broeck and Rolland were the only GC riders to gain any time on Wiggins today with a late attack but by the finish line it was just 32s gained.
Meanwhile up at the front of the race the oldest rider in the peloton, Jens Voigt did a classic Jens effort, catching the four in front by himself, sat on them for 500m and then attacked them in a brave effort to win the stage. With just 8km to go though no one was going to let him go and a very fresh looking Voeckler chased down the gap quickly to make it five out the front for what was sure to be a very tactical finish to the stage.
With 3 kms to go Devenyns attacked the group and got away solo, everybody looked at each other and it was Voigt who reacted first trying to go across solo. He couldn’t close the gap on the painfully difficult finish though and it was Thomas Voeckler who left Scarponi and Sanchez behind, bridged up to Voigt then left him behind to then go after Devenyns. Voeckler then flew past a clearly struggling Devenyns and held on for the final kilometer to take a superb stage win delighting the French. A stage win and the polka dot jersey saw the public and commentators alike go crazy with joy, almost missing the finish of Van den Broeck and Rolland who had closed the gap to just 2m44S at the finish but they only gained 30s over the peloton.
So overall no big changes in the GC today but that should surely change tomorrow with 2 HC climbs and a summit finish. Keep it tuned to Pez!
An exhausted Voeckler collapsed on his bike after a visibly painful final 3 kms.
Stage 10 Results:
1 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 4:46:26
2 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:00:03
3 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:07
4 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:23
5 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:00:30
6 Sandy Casar (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:02:44
7 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
10 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:02:52
General Classification After Stage 10:
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 43:59:02
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:53
3 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:07
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23
5 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:03:02
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:03:19
7 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan 0:04:23
8 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:04:48
9 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:05:29
10 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:05:31