Tour de France Stage 10 Preview

To sprint or not to sprint? That’s been the question ever since the route was announced as the final has a sharp hill 7km from the finish. But the final third of the stage crosses the plains of the Lauragais where it’s frequently windy and today crosswinds are forecast.

The Route: straight out of Andorra via the Port d’Envalira. It may sound extreme but it’s the not only the main road out of the principality to France, it’s the only road out to France. There is a tunnel but they take the mountain pass and then the long descent to the plains of the Ariège to leave the Pyrenees behind.

After the long and straight intermediate sprint they reach the Lauragais area. This is where the crosswinds – see weather forecast below – could hit. The roads are straight and exposed in places and at times sheltered by woodland.

The Finish: they come into the town of Revel with 11.5km to go but don’t cross the finish line, instead passing out to take the climb to St. Ferréol, notionally 1.8km long at 6.6% in the roadbook but it climbs before the official start of the climb. It goes up in two parts, almost 8% for 500m before a flat bridge section for 150m and then 6% for 800m. It’s on a big wide and straight road and seems unlikely to eject the sprinters given the bunch will thunder up and aerodynamics counts for so much. At the summit there’s 7km to go. The descent on a smaller, more narrow road which means any sprinters who’ve lost ground will found it hard to move back into position.

In the final kilometre it’s flat and suburban. There a tight but sweeping right turn and then a left turn before the 600m finishing straight

The Scenario: a sprint finish? The mountain pass to begin with suits the formation of a breakaway. Also given the hill at the end suits the likes of Peter Sagan there’s a good chance the sprint teams let a move go and gesture to Tinkoff that if they want to win with Sagan then they’re going to have to work for it. Direct Energie might lend a hand to the chase too. Still most sprinters will fancy their chances today, the final climb is less than five minutes of effort and the likes of Lotto-Soudal need a stage win so either they’ll work to set-up André Greipel or they’ll plant Tony Gallopin in the breakaway.

The Contenders: Peter Sagan is the deductive pick, what ever the scenario the man with the second best hair on the race after the LCL podium lion is capable of winning. He can go in the breakaway if there’s a move that sticks, he can cope if the crosswinds blow and if nothing happens then he can deal with the final climb especially if his team make life hard for the sprinters. As you can see though a win needs lots of the conditional.

Bryan Coquard is a contender to get over the climb to St Ferréol unscathed and then surf his way through the field to a win. Michael Matthews has had a quiet time so far but could emerge here.

The bookmakers have the likes of Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel at 20-1 today when on a normal sprint stage you’d be lucky to get 4-1. It’s not a flat sprint finish but those odds seem high. If Sagan does go in the breakaway there’s a good chance Dimension Data and Etixx-Quickstep work to bring him back in order to deny him points at the finish first and set up their sprinters next. Edvald Boasson Hagen will be one to watch, he’s been helping Cavendish so far but will he get his chance here? Normally yes but with Cavendish in green surely he’s the perfect helper. André Greipel and Alexander Kristoff are both searching for a win and normally today’s hill would tilt the odds to them against Cavendish and Kittel but neither seem to be offering much.

Otherwise who goes in the breakaway? Simon Gerrans (Orica-BikeExchange) rode into Revel in 2005 from a breakaway and lost out, Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto-Jumbo) is in the race and could do with being noticed, Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) might want to stretch his legs in the crosswinds. Now that Cannondale-Drapac’s GC ambitions have taken a hit maybe Ramūnas Navardauskas is released. Finally Greg Van Avermaet could try again in the breakaway and since he’s got nothing to lose it will be easier to win.

Sagan, Cavendish, Kittel
Greipel, Matthews, Coquard, Kristoff, Navardauskas

Weather: visit the area in and around the final 60km of the race and if you don’t spot the wind turbines dotted over the region you might notice the wind. It’s even got a local name, the Vent d’Autan. In fact it’s got two the Tramontane for when it blows in the other direction. Today it’s a Tramontane day with winds of 25km/h gusting to 40km/h forecast from the NW which means a crosswind. Enough to split the race? If the forecast proves accurate, yes. Otherwise it’ll be cool with a top temperature of 22°C and a strong chance of rain showers.

Update: 10.00am CET – the forecast for the approach to the finis says winds of 20km/h gusting to 40km/h.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm Euro time. Check-in during the day to see if the weather forecast holds and then for the finish.

45 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 10 Preview”

  1. If Quintana gets caught in the crosswinds, I will cry.

    Also, I’m hoping that the teams with the punchers go hard on the first climb of the day and that its enough to keep the big names like Kittel and Cavendish away. Unfortunately, 22.6 km at 5.5% doesn’t sound badass enough.

    • Why would you cry, the guy hasn’t done a thing yet?
      I don’t get the love that is bestowed on Quintana. Great climber, sure.
      But what about the rest?
      If it does blow today, he could be in trouble. Ventoux, we’ll see but there’s the TT on the day after and that could be problematic too, especially as there’s quite strong head / crosswinds forecast for that also.
      His Tour might be over, or at least in big trouble, by the end of the week.

      • I’d cry (not literally) if it meant that the building tension is released… I don’t believe that any of the others can really beat Froome (hope I’m wrong), and I want a close race!

        Movistar should be strong enough to look after Quintana today – would be interested to see what could happen to Yates (can Orica protect him), Dan Martin (Etixx should be well placed to benefit, no?), Bardet (would think there’s a risk here) etc.

      • Ppl are blind when it comes to q. He has all the potential but just hasn’t developed the killer instinct yet. I cannot think of one time that he has really attacked froome BEFORE froome had taken the lead, the initiative and basically won the race for all intents. I truly hope he proves me wrong

        • Or the Romandie (however, Froome was Nibaling around in both races).

          Laughable to accuse people being *blind* while you’re saying something like “Quintana hasn’t developed the killer instinct yet”.
          His pro career has lasted until now less than half than Froome’s but he’s already got 26 victories whereas Froome’s got about 34.
          And he’s got a way better palmarés when most of other races are concerned, he’s way more effective in a variety of high quality short stage race… and he’s got a Classic win, too ^__^

          • The Catalunya win was an early season TT-less one week race, with only two mountain stages.
            Even then, Quintana didn’t move until the last 1.5km of the second mountain stage.

          • Maybe blind is extreme. But I’m not sure its laughable. Romandie and Catalunya arent the big time. When it matters most, he doesn’t try to hurt people (basically Froome) until the race is essentially over. Froome made an awesome move the other day but I was more concerned that he was able to attack so violently and Q didn’t respond in turn. And maybe he will perform in the Alps and I will look foolish but I if I was to wager, I would bet against that. He has to punch back! Yea 20 sec is nothing but come on I have a valid point here 🙂

          • And Romandie was another early season week race, with one short uphill TT.
            Again a single move, albeit 6.5km out, on a mountain stage.
            And he got time taken out of him subsequently by Froome on the second of the two mountain stages.

          • Even looking at his 2014 Giro, Gabriele, it was all late moves on stages 16, 18 and 19.
            He is a young rider, so that is in his defence and exceptionally talented in the mountains, but is he predictable?
            And conservative?
            And more one-dimensional than his rivals?

          • This is a bit TdF-centric. That’s is, cycling ignorance.

            But if you to *ignore* all WT stage races, the only big time is TdF, I guess.
            In fact, there aren’t many other significant stage races besides Tirreno, País Vasco, Romandie, Catalunya, Burgos… or the Giro.

            For sure, Oman or HST aren’t big time. Nor C.I.
            And the Vuelta? Is that big time? Both Froome and Quintana weren’t faring that good in winning terms.

            If you want to speak about *how* a rider is or *what* he’s got… you need to watch him racing. You can’t decide that from… one race? (the 2015 TdF).

            I’m perplexed, too, about the decision of not hurting Froome when it could be done, even if I also see the opposite strategic point.

            What’s sure is that a rider who wins races has got what is needed.
            Or he wouldn’t win them.

            Quintana was a neopro tasting his first Tour de France when he started to show that he was able to kick one minute and a half into Froome just in a couple of stages – despite Froomey trying as hard as he could in both occasion.
            You must have got a certain amount of killer instinct to take home a jersey, a stage and a final GC podium in your *first* TdF.

            For sure, it took Froome more than a while to develop the sort of killer instinct he’s been more or less showing in the last couple of year or so… and maybe Quintana might lose his killer instinct in the process of adapting to European politics. But saying that such a rider has to develop his killer instinct *yet*, that’s what really makes little sense.

          • Well its not the first time i’ve been called ignorant and maybe I am. In any case, good points. I hope I’m wrong about him, I would love to see Q rip into some folks.

          • @Ecky Thump
            The Stelvio stage alone is probably worth most of the other riders’ career. Literally. That is, most riders would become memorable with just *one* comparable action in their whole racing life (think I’m joking? Take Thomas De Gendt).

            How many times did Froome put in strong face-off attacks in the 2015 TdF? One? And in the 2013 Tour? A couple of times? 4-5 kms uphill end up looking like a strong long-range move… In 2013 Quintana was attacking uphill as much as Froome (maybe even more), and for sure more boldly, from further, even if in a less successful way (remember the guy was a *neo-pro*).

            Neither Contador was that sort of attacking rider before 2011. Sadly, few winners are riding in a daring way.

            I listed elsewhere here (and I won’t do the same work again) how many victories from Quintana came from *true* long-range, mainly lone, attacks.
            No doubt that he’s becoming more prudent in the last couple of years, even if the attack through which he won the 2015 Tirreno was “long-range” in Froome’s (and modern cycling’s) terms, some 5 kms from the line.
            It’s also just logical that when you’re no more a neo-pro and people know you as one of the best you’re more controlled, which makes harder to go far from the line.

            That said, predictable, conservative and one-dimensional are precisely the adjective which *don’t* define Quintana as a rider.

            Maybe you’ll be right if he goes on riding with the spirit of Valverde watching him from behind for the next five years or so – presently, he can allow himself to more and more conservative racing and still the balance of his career would be inclined towards aggression. He’s got enough of that in his bag.
            What’s sure is that he’s no Rolland’s Wasting Energy Attacks (r) kind of rider. Most time he went from far, it was to hit hard and generally win (the exception I recall is Ax 3 Domains when he went on the Pailhères).
            But it’s not like we need more suicidal TV showings, we need more serious, aggressive racing, that is, racing aggressively in order to win. That’s what Quintana usually does. Or did 🙂

          • @Ecky Thump
            Ok, now I know you’re joking – I’ve just read what you wrote about Romandie ^__^
            Froome taking time from Quintana (four seconds, by the way) on the subsequent mountain stage, ah ah ah, yeah, sure, and Nibali was taking time on all the best GC riders in Lac de Payolle. They’re called “breaks” and they’re usually done by men who don’t really matter anymore in GC fight terms 😉
            And a “6.5 km uphill attack” is the kind of thing that Froome could produce at his absolute best (like a couple of times in his life)… he just lacks all the rest that Quintana has already shown in terms of aggressive racing (for now, at least, since I personally believe that Froome is aiming to change his way of riding).

  2. I head Michael Valgren on TV stating that he’d try and make the break today. It should suit him too, this type of stage & finish.
    Question is as you describe, if the break will get clear.
    I also saw a comment describing Port d’Envalira climb, just after the pyranees, is historicaly riden very slowly by the favorittes, allowing a break to go.
    History is not a good indicator in modern cycling though 🙂
    Can’t wait – Gonna be a good one I think. Fingers crossed!

  3. Thankfully I can watch this stage live and thankfully not one with a mountain finish where nothing much happens because riders are not wanting to lose the race. Step forward today some attacking riders who wish to WIN the stage.

    • This is curious. If you watched the stage to Andorra we had attacks from De Gendt, Coppel, Rui Costa, Majka, Pinot, Navarro and more before Dumoulin made his move, all from a long break that had stayed away after earlier moves by Contador and Valverde were chased down. Among the GC contenders Henao, Froome, Porte and Martin were trading repeated attacks. Are we watching the same race?

      • Specifically referring to Sky/Movistar mountain top club run on Sundays so called “Queen stage” yes we are watching the same race.

          • As for myself, I want to see big gaps, and riders giving at all, dragging themselves agonistically, for at least 50km, fighting in exhaustion through sheer willpower, and admire them in overcoming their pain. And then the same thing two days after, but with different riders having the upper hand.
            That is, a novel, that will continue to be read after 50 years.

          • I think we’d have to give the riders each a lobotomy then. Because anyone who partakes in that on stage 9 and then stage 10 is going to lose the TdF by a massive margin.

          • Movistar are riding (and sounding in interviews) like a team accepting defeat.
            There is a lot of belief in the ‘Froome fading in the third week’ idea, but Sky seem to have changed his season in order to prevent this – which may or may not have worked.
            This belief says that Quintana is best waiting until the final week.
            But how far behind will he be by then (even if Froome does weaken)?
            He might manage to stay with Froome on Ventoux, although as a stage it is exactly the sort that Froome excels in.
            And then there is the time trial the next day where you would expect Froome to gain significant time.
            Movistar have allowed Sky to ride exactly as they have wanted – i.e. Sky have had a pretty easy first 9 days.
            Separating Froome from his team later in the race by weakening them earlier in the race would have given Quintana a better chance, as that strong team is Froome’s principal advantage.
            And this advantage may – once again – be used against Movistar on the upcoming flat stages.
            Quintana *might* be a better rider than Froome over a long range attack in the mountains. If he doesn’t do that, he’s unlikely to beat Froome.
            And the more he did it the better of he would be – i.e. not just leaving it till the Alps.

          • There isnt any proof yet that Froome/sky tweaking the preparation will yield results in third week. Granted there is nothing to counter it either; but its a bit trite to claim Froome will now be strong, even in third week. why? Well because SKY PR told me so.

            Why attack on Arcalis for 10s when a move 1/2 way up Ventoux can only be matched by Froome, then the dogfight does begin – and we saw on alpe d’huez when Nairo really goes Froomey can be put in trouble.

            Its still very evenly balanced. Froome in yellow being proactive on the descent… But quintana quite happy to be only 23s back after 1st week unlike 2013 or 2015.

          • I’m not Anonymous, but I want to see attacks on the penultimate Breixalis for instance. A Contador could and would do that. While others just ride a training round behind 7 Sky riders. Balls vs non-balls….

      • I know what you mean, and you’re pretty right. But it must be said that “trading” two-pence attacks without sustaining them, amounts to not really attacking, it’s just accelerating for some metres to see if rivals follow you or let you go.

  4. Plenty of teams not won a stage yet and some teams wearing invisible cloaks! Lets hope for an exciting stage with a surprise winner.

  5. ‘the man with the second best hair on the race after the LCL podium lion’

    Haha great stuff.

    It always amuses me seeing Sagan after a stage doing his media duties wearing a cap taming his wild hair/mane with that nonchalant look on his face making it appear as if he is someone from the crowd who has snuck into the race and shouldn’t really be there.

    Although we’ve had the rest day given the conditions on Sunday’s stage and that body composition of a lot of the contenders with their extremely low body fat, are they likely to suffering from a few sniffles and feeling under the weather?

    It seems Froome does seem to weaken in the later stages, is Quintanna banking on this as yesterday’s press conference he said he was biding his time as there were plenty of opportunities to attack coming up.

  6. You mentioned lutsenko. He attacked on a very similar stage against a similar crowd in Paris niece this year and took the stage. He was also off the back in stage 9… Resting? Can we see a replay? He has the right coach too?

  7. Even if you are not excited with how the Froome/Quintana battle has played out so far, there is definitely some other interesting dynamics on offer. Looks like we have a genuine battle for the polka-dots, especially now that Majka won’t be called on to work for Contador. The green jersey is not automatically going to be Sagan’s and the white jersey tussle between Yates and a very under-the-radar Meintjes. Plus some time losses has cut adrift some riders from top-20 ambitions to stage hunting should liven up the Alpine stages.

    One thing I always like from the daily previews that sometimes goes unmentioned is an opportunity, like today, to learn a bit more about the areas of France that the race goes through that don’t appear in tourists guides. Mirepoix is a lovely little town but the wider Lauragais is something that had passed me by – good to know more about it.

  8. Wow – with 35k to go and the gap is still well over 4min. This is one helluva strong breakaway… really with these riders, this isn’t a breakaway, it’s an elite group of riders. There’s no way that Voeckler will pull this back.

    At this point, I’m predicting the bunch will miss out huge, and we’ll have an awesome finale! Hold tight!

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