2012 Tour de France-Stage 10

11 Jul

I closed yesterday’s blog by saying I hoped there would be good racing today – and boy was there ever!

There was no change in the first five places in the General Classification – nor in time gaps but there was still plenty of exciting racing.

Almost from the drop of the flag a break of 3 riders formed followed with counter-attacks. A 25 man breakaway ended up forming with 15 teams represented. They were going hunting for points (Peter Sagan and Matthew Goss) and a stage win. In the break were riders who had previously won a stage at the Tour: Burghart (BMC), Popovych and Voight (RadioShack) Miller and Zabriskie (Garmin), Voeckler (Europcar), Casar (FDJ) and Sanchez (Rabobank). The highest ranked rider in the break was Scarponi (Lampe) at 10 minutes back. As the break started the first climb they had built up a gap of just under 7 minutes over the main field. The pace of the stage was the fastest of the Tour so far.

At the sprint Sagan, Goss and Hutarovich raced for points with Goss taking maximum, Hutarovich taking 2nd and Sagan 3rd. Sagan’s lead over Goss in the green jersey competition is now 27 points.

The lead group started the climb of Colombier with Europcar at the front. The gap to the peloton was 6:29. Almost immediately riders started falling off the back as the road kicked up on the long climb (17.4k). The lead group was reduced to just five riders: Voeckler, Scarponi, Sanchez, Peraud and Devenyns (Quickstep), then a second group of a handful of riders.

Voeckler did most of the work at the front of the small lead group. He seemed content to do it – and of course the others were happy to let him. To reward him for his efforts no one contested his race to the summit and the 25 points for the polka-dot jersey – which he got. The lead breakaway’s gap at this point was about 5 minutes over the peloton.

Once the peloton summited the climb, Vanden Broeck went off the front, and Evans and Nibali moved to the front, ahead of Wiggins. Team Sky was in control and Evans sat on letting them do the work. I thought he might go with Nibali but for whatever reason he didn’t.

Nibali caught up to teammate Peter Sagan who had been dropped by the breakaway and used Sagan to pace him through the descent until Sagan could no longer stay with him on the final climb of the day. It was a great effort by Sagan, helping himself to more points in the green jersey sprint and providing support to his team leader. Nibali increased his gap on the peloton to almost a minute before it started coming down.

voeckler polkaWith Sky driving a hard pace they caught Nibali on the final climb (guess that’s why Evans didn’t go). The 4 man lead group summits the last climb, Voeckler picks up a few more points giving him the “king of the mountains” jersey.

Once the peloton started the descent, Vanden Broeck and Voeckler’s teammate, Rolland took off the front and opened a gap. Van Garderen, in the white jersey, used the descent to catch up to the peloton, including the rider next in line for the white jersey, Taaramae, thus protecting his hold on the white for at least another day.

Meanwhile on the front the lead group of 4 becomes the lead group of 5 when somehow the old man of the Tour, Jens Voight, caught and then passed them. Voeckler chased him down, then Devenyns who had been conserving his energy at the back took off. No one wanted to chase but Voight finally does, then Voeckler. The gaps were about even and it looked like Devenyns would get himself the win. About that time he ran out of gas, and Voight closed in.

But lo and behold Voeckler, who didn’t panic with Devenyns attack, dug deep and quickly closed the gap to Voight and Devenyns and then passed them.  About that time it looks like Voeckler had the win, but the road kicked up and he started to slow and Scarponi started to close in.

At that point just meters from the finish – everyone loses gas and Voeckler managed to hang on for the win.  It truly was a brave and brilliant ride today by Voeckler. As you all know I’m a big Voeckler fan and seeing him take this stage and the polka dot jersey was thrilling!

Voeckler - letour

As the peloton neared the finish Evans and Nibali attacked but Wiggins and Sky quickly shut it down. No gains today for Nibali or Evans but Vanden Broeck did reduce his deficit slightly.

Stage 10 Results:

  • 1. Thomas VOECKLER, Europcar, in 4:46:26
  • 2. Michele SCARPONI, Lampre-ISD, at :3
  • 3. Jens VOIGT, RadioShack-Nissan, at :7
  • 4. Luis Leon SANCHEZ GIL, Rabobank, at :23
  • 5. Dries DEVENYNS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, at :30
  • 6. Sandy CASAR, FDJ-BigMat, at 2:44
  • 7. Egoi MARTINEZ DE ESTEBAN, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 2:44
  • 8. Pierre ROLLAND, Europcar, at 2:44
  • 9. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 2:44
  • 10. Dmitriy FOFONOV, Astana, at 2:52

GC after Stage 10:

  • 1. Bradley WIGGINS, Sky, in 43:59:02
  • 2. Cadel EVANS, BMC Racing, at 1:53
  • 3. Christopher FROOME, Sky, at 2:07
  • 4. Vincenzo NIBALI, Liquigas-Cannondale, at 2:23
  • 5. Denis MENCHOV, Katusha, at 3:02
  • 6. Haimar ZUBELDIA AGIRRE, RadioShack-Nissan, at 3:19
  • 7. Maxime MONFORT, RadioShack-Nissan, at 4:23
  • 8. Jurgen VAN DEN BROECK, Lotto-Belisol, at 4:48
  • 9. Nicolas ROCHE, Ag2r La Mondiale, at 5:29
  • 10. Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC Racing, at 5:31

Stage 11 Preview:

Queen Stage of the Alps

 

stage 11

Regarding Stage 11, a picture is worth a lot of words. Tomorrow offers riders no time to warm-up the legs and then will punish them the rest of the stage. It will be difficult for a break to get the kind of time on the Sky driven peloton like it did today. If any one in the break is a risk to GC, Sky will reel them in, which means only low GC placed riders who are also strong climbers will be able to stay away. Pierre Rolland, another Europcar rider comes to mind. He won Alpe d’huez last year so he’s capable.

Those riders protecting their spot on the podium (Wiggins) or looking to move up (Evans, Nibali, Menchov, Vanden Broeck, Zubeldia) probably will ride together more or less until the two HC climbs are behind them. I expect most of the fireworks between the contenders to be on the last climb, if there even are any. It could very well go like today with no changes in the top 5. If Wiggins gets isolated – which based on what we’ve saw today and Stage 8 is highly unlikely – sparks will fly. Otherwise, we’ll have to look for someone(s) in the break to make the race interesting.

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