Tour de France Stage 10 Preview

The race resumes gently. Today should be a semi-rest day for plenty in the peloton as the peloton meanders around gentle countryside before a likely sprint finish in Bergerac.

The Route: a scenic tour of sunflower fields, past farms of ducks being fattened up for foie gras and grazing goats kept for cheese, past orchards of walnut and fig trees and below the hilly limestone plateau where truffles spring up. This is a land of long lunches and all in the land of the poet La Boétie whose works on domination and servitude might form the basis for Wanty-Gobert rider Guillaume Martin’s next  column in Le Monde this week as he reflects on the breakaway bowing to the mighty sprint trains. As for the race, because there is one, there are few obstacles, the roads can be rough at times but the climbs are gentle and only offer one point each.

The Finish: flat. they circle around Bergerac and approach on big main roads. There’s a tight roundabout with 3km to go just before the cross the sleepy Dordogne river and then a wider roundabout on the other side of the bridge and more big roads around town to the flamme rouge. Just after this comes a sharp left-hander followed by another left-hander a couple of hundred metres later before the 500 metre finishing straight. The corners will line things out but nobody will want to come out first from the last bend because it’s too far to the line to lead.

The Contenders: a sprint finish? Bergerac’s host five Tour stage starts and finishes before but none have ended in a sprint. However this is probably explained by three of these stages being time trials rather than anything more superstitious. Certainly the route says yes and so does Herr Kittel but remember there are fewer sprinters left in the race, there are several orphan sprint trains so fewer teams will chase. Quick Step will be confident in Marcel Kittel‘s chances but they’ve already enjoyed plenty of success so the onus is on other squads to take up the chase which in turn only bolsters Quick Step’s chances for the finish.

The two teams with a big interest in the sprint are Lotto-Soudal for André Greipel and Katusha for Alexander Kristoff. Both teams know their sprinters represent their best chance for a win so they’ll work hard at it.

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) might appreciate the corners in the finish as they’ll mix up the bunch but he did mention something the other day about illness. Meanwhile Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) has been thereabouts in the sprints but never in with a chance of victory but as others fall away perhaps he’ll run closer. Finally Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) must be feeling more confident after his near-miss in Nuits-Saints-Georges but he’s without leadout expert Mark Renshaw.

Marcel Kittel
André Greipel, Nacer Bouhanni
Kristoff, Groenewegen, Matthews

Weather: cloudy with some sunshine at times, the chance of a shower and a pleasant 26°C.

TV: live from the start at 1.10pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.30pm CET. This is scenic but there are only so many shots of sunflowers and sleepy rivers to see.

42 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 10 Preview”

  1. I would not hazard an opinion about whether this will be “normal” enough for Kittel (due to all the absentees), but assuming that the race does indeed “resume gently,” it is a case of not testing the GC men immediately after the rest day (which tends to elicit poor performances). I’m fine with that, but I’m curious how much the teams (think they) know about which riders are good after a rest day, and how to make sure they are.

  2. Surely Kittel has these sprints (and the green jersey) wrapped up now? Matthews will have to be in plenty of mountain breakaways chasing 20 intermediate points to compensate for any more Kittel wins. Quickstep’s only concern is if a breakaway finally makes it. As the riders get more fatigued their ability to keep people on a short leash will diminish and Sky will be less concerned about people half an hour down taking a 10 minute lead.

    • Notwithstanding a breakaway today, looking at the maths of the points competition, Kittel could almost make it safe over these next two days.
      Two wins would take him to 312 points, and that’s virtually out of sight, with the insurance of a final 50 more points in Paris.

      Matthews is on 160. There’s 160 very tough points from intermediates over 8 x stages, that would take him to 320.
      It’s not completely over, but it needs Greipel or Kristoff to start denying Kittel the wins.

      • That would be true… if Matthews would not also take points in the sprint finishes. With all these other sprinters out, he is a lock for top 10 and will likely sprint into the top 5 on most of the flat sprints. It will probably be closer than it has been over the last five years.

        • Hopefully it can be competitive. Matthews was 3rd on stage 7, just behind the tied victors so some more top 3s and intermediate sprints on more mountainous days gives him a shot, but it’s still Kittel looking most likely to win green.

        • Possibly, though there are still plenty of ‘true’ sprinters left to deny him top 5 I’d have thought?
          And Kittel could take the 20 intermediate points on offer today and on the final day too, so it’s swings and roundabouts really.

          • Matthews isn’t an out and out sprinter, he’s as good as said he doesn’t like getting in the mix in the bunch. Meaning riders like EBH etc could push him down the finishing order by just having the bottle in the bunch.

  3. I would like Bouhanni to win a stage.

    He comes across terribly but rivalries are fun and fear he’ll fade without a bit of success soon.

    Is it me or is Groenewegen just not developing?

    What do people expect to be the coming years Sprinter league – will Gaviria outpace Kittel? Is Greipel done? Will Demare develop? Is Kristoff done in the sprints? Can Ewan match Gaviria and Kittel?

    • Groenewegen not developing? He has won sprint finishes in which he beat Greipel and Kittel earlier in the year. In terms of speed, he is right there (thanks to Dimension Data stats), but he admitted to ‘waiting too long’, or following the rest, in the first week. He aims to go early, mainly to avoid being late, in the coming stages. I think he is the only one who could match Kittel when it comes to pure speed.

    • I wouldn’t describe green as tied up. Think we’ll see Matthews do a lot more of what we saw on Sunday and ‘do a Sagan’- get in break on Mountain days, snaffle up sprint points, drop back. There is at least another 4 stages where he can do that and get ‘free points’ plus 2 of those where he might even make it to the finish if its a bigger group. Stages like today are crucial- Can he finish 2nd or 3rd to Kittels 1st or 2nd for instance.

      • I also meant to add White is probably the most nailed on comp of TDF2017. Very unlikely Yates will be shifted from that now- clear favourite.

        • Do you think so? I agree that Yates is in a very good position to win. However, it seems to me that white is often down to who is best able to minimize losses on an off day.
          Yates hasn’t really had an off day yet (unless you would argue that his 8s loss in stage 3 counts as such), whereas Meintjes has surely seen better days than on the Mont du Chat (the same might be said for Buchmann, but he probably lost too much to win even if Yates does have a really bad day).

          If Barguil makes it a goal and keeps his current form I suspect he might well bring it to Paris. Although there are still 190 points left on the big mountains (1st/HC), I think the main threat would be one of the GC contenders winning on the Izoard. Majka is out and Pinot doesn’t seem to be in great shape. I can’t see Roglic consistently outclimbing Barguil at the moment. Mollema? Everyone else would need to scoop up all the points for a day (with Barguil getting none) to close the gap.
          One important question is whether Sunweb will aim for two jerseys, and if so, whether the other teams will stand for it (you might wonder whether a break that includes both Matthews and Barguil would be allowed to go).

  4. Just a random question, completely off topic, but why not post it here.

    Has there ever been spoken about organising a race (stage or one day) where every team can have only one rider? Would this be interesting? I’m sure the thought must have occurred to others, but as far as I know this has never been done.

    • IMO it would be very boring. There would be no motivation for anyone to work at all, it would be like watching a breakaway where there was no chase. The thing that makes bike racing interesting is the team aspect, sometimes it’s obvious sometimes it confusing but it always matters.

  5. Is it possible – because of todays rather techinal last few km – that both Kittel and Greipel will miss the finish?
    Could it be ‘a rebelday’ with Matthews, Kristoff, Boason Hagen and Bouhani fooling the two strong Germans?
    Just a thought …….

  6. This tour is going from bad to worse… dullest stage imaginable today… and another tomorrow.

    If Froome walks away with this it’ll be the worst Tour in a long time. 2012 weren’t great but it still wasn’t this boring. Surely the ratings must be nose diving?

    • Audience figures are about the same. Up in some countries, down in others but the data overall looks similar.

      Today’s stage was dull but out of interest why watch when you know it’s going to be an inevitable sprint finish? It’s like watching one of those youtube clips of log fire for three hours and hoping something eventful is going to happen 😉

    • Really curious… how is this edition worse than previous?

      So far it’s been pretty exciting IMO. There’s been controversy, pretty decent attacks in the mountains, GC contenders to analyse, unpredictable sprints with surprise results (who would have throught Greipel would fall so far back today), etc.

      • CA,

        “Really curious… how is this edition worse than previous?”

        Some may believe there are too many sprint stages, which detracts from what may be considered a better tour.

        I’m of that crowd; less sprint stages the better. Sprint stages just seem like filler. Elevator music.

  7. Sanz sagan and cavendish the sprint stages are a complete snooze fest .. Obviously Kittel is stunningly fast and has to be admired for that but is seems to be a question of how much he will win by rather than will he win.
    What is the record number of wins in a tour ?

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