Tour de France Stage 10 Preview

When the route was announced last October today’s stage suggested two scenarios, one being a parade alongside the coast past beaches packed with holidaymakers, the other a sailing race as the Atlantic crosswind sliced the peloton to pieces. The weather suggests the former, minus the holidaymakers, but it only takes a breeze on the exposed sea crossing at the end to change things.

The Route: le plat du jour is 168.5km between two islands, Oléron and Ré, prized Parisian holiday destinations on the Atlantic coast and much of today’s meagre vertical gain comes from road bridges. There’s an inland loop for 30km with reclaimed marshland and canals for features and road bridges feature among today’s ascensions although the biggest climb of the day comes around the 20km point where the road reaches 50m above sea level near a lighthouse in the Courbe forest.

After the intermediate sprint the race heads towards the city of La Rochelle and street furniture becomes more prevalent along the coast with roundabouts and what the French call haricots or “beans”, the concrete dividers to separate lanes on the road. With 23km to go the race stops proceeding north by north west and heads west, past La Rochelle airport, this is a key point for the change in the wind direction, it’ll go from headwind to 3/4 tailwind.

The Finish: with 16km to go the toll bridge across from La Rochelle to the Ile de Ré is arguably the tactical and technical feature of the day. Built in 1988, it’s 3km long and totally exposed to the wind and with a pronounced rise and fall so that ships can pass below in the middle which makes it just that bit harder. Once on the island the road stays on the same road and a flat finish – of course – on the ring road of Saint-Martin.

The Contenders: is it Sam Bennett‘s day (Deceuninck-Quickstep) day today? Maybe tomorrow for reason’s better explained in the next preview. Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) is still the safer pick.

Cees Bol is the first of the second picks, he’s a powerhouse sprinter and suited to a flat stage like this, plus he’s got a decent leadout and Sunweb’s morale is up.

Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) is not quite a local but he could visit today’s stage on a training ride, only there’s not much advantage to knowing the roads, less to weighing less than 60kg today, tomorrow is much better. Similarly Total Direct Energie are the near local team so expect a rider in the break today but house sprinter Niccoló Bonifazio won’t sprint any faster today and if he did it’s no guarantee of a win.

Trek-Segafredo are contesting the sprint but rotating their riders, none are obvious contenders for the outright win but Mads Pedersen seems the most suited for today.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) gets the obligatory mention, normally on team duty but even on the days when he’s doing this he’s won.

Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett
Kristoff, WvA, Sagan

Weather: warm and sunny, the Tour might be held outside of the tourist season this year but it’ll still be an advert for the region. 26°C and a 15km/h breeze from the NNE which means a crosswind on the bridge to the island but only a light one, if the forecast holds true then it’s more about being on the left/south of the road for shelter… but if it’s off by just 5-10km/h then hold on tight.

TV: live coverage from the start at 1.30pm CEST to the finish forecast around 5.30pm Euro time. Tune in early for shots of the seaside but this is a likely sprint finish if you have other things to do.

34 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 10 Preview”

  1. Two questions, neither strictly related to the stage… why did Parisian holiday makers prize the Atlantic coast over the Mediterranean, and why doesn’t Bryan Coquard pad out a bit? He can afford a good 5kg of muscle if he’s less than 60kg?!
    Ewan today if it’s not windy, WVA if it is.

  2. It seems like the biggest story for today and tomorrow is the battle for green. It’s hard to see how Sagan can hold onto it. He’ll have a chance to battle back into the lead over the subsequent stages, but one of his main rivals could take gobs of points in both the intermediate sprints and with a stage win or two. I keep hoping that he’ll round into form, but what little I know about sprinter’s training regimens it seems one has to specifically train for that top-gear burst of power using techniques that maximize fast-twitch fibers,. This war of attrition (riding the Tour) privileges slow-twitch.

      • Yes, it’s good to see how up in the air this race is, both GC and green jersey. The green jersey race certainly gives a lot to watch for on this stage and the next, as well as middle sections of mountain stages. Though for me, as a big Sagan fan – I miss seeing the old Peter snatching wins in a variety of situations, and never minded seeing him run away with this competition.

  3. Further to IR’s Rest Day Review and discussion of political will to see the Tour continue to Paris, the Covid testing protocol allows for repeat testing in the case of a positive to reduce the possibility of false positives. As the PCR test being used appears more likely to generate false negatives than false positives, logic suggests that negatives should also be subject to retests. Is this more evidence of political will in favour of the Tour and loading the chances of the Tour arriving in Paris with a more or less complete peloton.

        • Presumably the 4 staff members along with Christian Prudhomme will be retested to exclude an incorrect test.

          A question on the regulations. The statement I saw (which could be incorrect) says the teams with the single positive test would be excluded if another positive test is returned within the next seven days. If the next set of tests is due on the second rest day ie Monday 14th does that fall within seven days?

          • Yes for the four teams facing exclusion from the race in case of a second positive on the team next week. Any any other team that returns two positives next week too. The teams with the positive test today have had extra testing apparently to check if there are any others positive but these have come back negative.

            Prudhomme’s case is different because he’s outside of the Tour’s “bubble”, a lot of his work at the Tour is to meet and greet locals so he’s been away from the riders etc.

          • Still, looks like I read too much into the article when I felt it was an all-clear signal…
            Even without Prudhomme, assuming those results are correct, 4 staff members affected means the “bubble” isn’t really airtight.

          • What I have read elsewhere is that if there is a single positive on the next rest day for one of the four that would be after the 7 day period and so would not mean exclusion for them. It does seem unclear as to what the situation is as I can see it could be interpreted in different ways. Hopefully will not arise.

  4. Sagan knows he messed up on the stage 7. That’s really going to hurt unless he can get maximum points on a sprint soon.
    ITV were reporting positives yesterday for both riders and staff. So the results of that will be interesting. They interviewed Griepal who lamented the crowds on the Peyresourde, and that some weren’t wearing masks, and contrasted that with the isolation from family and friends riders had gone through just to be there. Fingers crossed for them.
    The words by the French politician (prime minister?!) were certainly a ringing endorsement that the government would be trying to keep the race going for as long as was practical.

  5. A day for comparing sprinters. The finish in Tirreno Adriatico is a bit earlier than the one at the TdF. I wonder if Bora have their better sprinter in Italy? Pascal Ackermann’s finish was very good yesterday

    • I think there’s no question Sagan hasn’t been the best pure sprinter on the Bora team in a couple of years. Last year he was probably the third best. But then, he’s not in the TdF to be the fastest sprinter, but to chase a green jersey and hopefully nab a stage where the pure sprinters are less advantaged.

      The Ackermann sprint yesterday was incredible. His fearlessness in passing three different sprinters through such narrow gaps (the road even narrowed slightly as the barriers poked out about 50 meters from the finish) was heart-stopping to watch. It really demonstrates how crucial it is for sprinters to hold their lines – any of those three could have drifted over a few cm and crashed him.

  6. Great to see Sam Bennett get his win after a picture perfect lead out. His emotion in the post-race interview was moving.

    For Sagan, the glass-half-empty reading is that, again, he doesn’t have the top end he had a few years ago against the very best sprinters. Plus he lost the green jersey. The glass-half-full reading is that he gained green jersey points on everyone except Bennett, and while he couldn’t match the finishing kick of Bennett and Ewan, none of the other sprinters (Bols, Viviani, Coquard) were close to taking third place from him.

    Speaking of sprinters, over at Tirreno Adriatico Ackermann pulled off another impressive win. This time I thought he went a little too early, but he had the strength to hold Gaviria et al. off.

    • Sagan usually is a step behind the top sprinters, no? He will get the points back when things get more lumpy. I forgot, but I didn’t think there were many more chances for the pure sprinters.

      • It’s true that during peak Kittel or Cavendish or Greipel, Sagan usually finished a wheel behind them, but it was often a matter of the bike throw, and he was right there if any of them made the slightest mistake. This year he’s not even getting into bike throw range in the sprints, though I am convinced it’s more lack of serious training and burning desire than it is age.

        Tomorrow and stage 21 should be definite sprinter stages. Arguably stages 12 and 19, though those are much more old Sagan/new WvA stages because of their lumpiness and difficulty. So yes, I think Sagan losing the green jersey today is a temporary situation. Though there are quite a few intermediate sprint points available before the big mountains on several stages, so if DQS really wanted to keep Sam in green and they were willing to burn up a lot of support riders, they probably could. Given that Alaphillipe

  7. How big a blow is it to Pogacar that Formolo is out?
    I’m assuming it’s a significant setback, though he seems not to mind just using JV/Ineos’s trains…

    • Maybe not too much, I’d seen Formolo as trying to infiltrate breaks and go for stage wins. It’s a problem but not game changing for Pogačar who seems to be doing as he pleases without bothering about team mates right now. A lot of riders can ride like hobos on the Jumbo and Ineos trains.

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