Tour de France Stage 10 Preview

A mountain stage but without any fearsome climbs, today’s stage connects two ski resorts and gets the legs turning ahead of the two crucial Alpine stages this week with the Col du Granon tomorrow and Alpe d’Huez the day after.

The Route: a short dash in the Alps, 148km and 2,700m of vertical gain. “This stage features breath-taking mountain scenery, especially when it runs alongside Lake Geneva” says the Tour’s manual, only ride the course and it’s often a bit more humdrum, and it doesn’t go alongside the lake. Helicopter shots should deliver some nice images. A downhill start outside the ski town of Morzine and a descent down the valley road before a right turn and the gradual climb to Chevenoz and beyond to Vinzier which has an average of 3% but there are steeper sections as it twists up through the Chablais Alps. It might not be enough to help the breakaway form. Then comes a fast and twisting descent down to Thonon and a quick spin around the town’s backroads.

It starts climbing out of town and a suburban feel as the road passes villas as it drags up to the village or Armoy. From here on the road gets straighter and the chances of gradient more steady on the way up the Col de Jambaz, a big ring mountain pass chased by a steady descent down to the valley floor, via the village of Onnion, without any tricks or traps.

They’ve added the climb towards Châtillon and it’s another drag up, nothing to steep before a fast descent back down to the valley to Saint-Gervais.

The Finish: a 21km summit finish? Yes, just not a steep one although it has its moments. There’s a hard section from the start at Passy for the first 7km to the roundabout, it’s not the Domancy “Hinault” climb used in the worlds and Tour, nor the steep direct road to Les Amerands but reaches the same place via a main road. It’s a wider road still to Megève with a softer slope. Once in town there’s a left turn and the climb up to the Megève airstrip, as used in the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné. It’s 7km at 4.5% but starts with a 8-9% ramp before easing up, then with 2.5km there’s some 7% and right at the end they ride onto the airstrip which is 5% to the line.

The Contenders: a mountain stage of sorts, just without big climbs. This should be a day for the breakaway and a rider who can both get in the right move at the start and then dispatch their rivals in the final long section but not obvious when and where the move can go clear, the climb to Vinzier today is not so selective so the battle could still rage beyond. Carlos Verona (Movistar) had a good ride on Sunday and is bound to feature in more mountain stages to come. Lennard Kämna (Bora-hansgrohe) won the Dauphiné stage that went here in 2020 and is looking lively but that win had bigger climbs before, he might prefer them to soften up more riders.

Victor Lafay (Cofidis) is the local and looking increasingly capable over the past 18 months but doesn’t seem in peak form right now, he’s told local newspaper Le Dauphiné that the Tour’s turning into a calvaire, an ordeal.

Bob Jungels (Ag2r Citroën) is clearly in great condition and this finish is ideal, but he might have bolder ambitions for the next two days in the Alps. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Easypost) can climb well when the gradient’s not too severe. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain) is versatile and has been making the breaks but struggling on the steeper later climbs, today might suit more. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) might like this course but often barges away on a flat bit of road, it’ll be hard to outclimb rivals or outsprint them.  Andreas Kron (Lotto-Soudal) has a chance but an outside one. Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) was in the break on Sunday but vanished on the tricky descent of the Col de la Croix, today’s course is much less technical.

Otherwise the easy picks are Tadej Pogačar (UAE)… and who from Jumbo-Visma, normally Primož Roglič actually for a finish like this but he’s looking less sharp right now and his back is so sore he apparently didn’t go for a rest day ride; it’s a big ask for Wout van Aert, while Jonas Vingegaard is obviously in the mix but may lack the sprint.

Kämna, Pogačar
Teuns, Verona, Jungels, Bettiol, Konrad, WvA, Latour, Izagirre, Schachmann

Weather: 29°C and sunny.

TV: a 1.30pm CEST start and finish is forecast for 5.00pm CEST.

Food and drink: after several days of cheese and wine talk, now for something healthier, if only for the consumer and not our planet. The Tour goes to Thonon today which has its own brand of mineral water, the kind you’ll find in French supermarkets. But just 10km up the road is Evian, home to the more famous mineral water and the kind you’ll find all around the world, the picture above is mid-way on a recon ride of the Tokyo Olympic road race route… the Pocari Sweat was the better option.

Mineral water is big export, France leads the world in selling water abroad. “Mineral” evokes differing compositions and many brands began as water sold by pharmacists to cure various ailments. Evian got going after someone sipped the spring water and their kidney stones vanished, albeit over time rather than in an instant, still inviting questions about causation vs correlation.

Today you can find waters rich in magnesium or bitter bicarbonate in supermarkets in France, they don’t export so well. Vittel is a more plain taste and for many years it was one of the Tour de France’s top-tier sponsors, the Tour even visited the town of Vittel (the day Peter Sagan was thrown off the Tour following Mark Cavendish’s crash); Vittel remains a Tour sponsor and belongs to Nestlé, whose lakeside HQ the Tour rode past on Sunday. But Evian belongs to corporate arch-rival Danone which begs the question whether the Tour de France could visit Evian, could the race promote a rival brand? You however can visit Evian and apparently there’s a fountain from which the Evian water flows where you can top up your bidons for free.

43 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 10 Preview”

  1. Great preview as always Inrng, and nice work on throwing a chain ring Bob Jungels’ way on the last stage. Great to see him get a win.
    You mentioned Alberto Bettiol as a contender, and I wonder if a rider like Michael Matthews could win today’s stage if he decided to chase the break? He can over a climb, as he showed when he won the green jersey a few years back, and the final summit finish doesn’t look to hold anything he can’t handle. Would love to see him chase the stage.

      • I doubt that the big kahunes are out for this win unless it falls into their lap. The next few days are likely more sharply in their focus and will be saving themselves for that. Though a team may surprise and force the issue to shake things up. Doubtful though.

  2. I’ve been wondering which day was a day for a Contador like ambush or Nibali’s from the Dauphine.

    Is it not today? I noticed the route isnt a long build to climbs like the other short days and thought the rolling terrain might help a surprising move?

    I assume at some point Ineos have to try something or they just end up following the big two around and we all get bored? But if they try something too late they’ll be minutes down and likely have lost their trident in the top 10. Admittedly trying something too early means holding on for weeks hoping, so I guess they may wait and at that point may even get help from JV if Vinny falls further behind also?

    (I’m fully expecting Pog to win in any scenario but given heat and V’s form also wouldn’t be overlay surprised if he nabs it)

    • My personal opinion is Ineos are overperforming on GC. I think Thomas quipped a few days ago about how he was relieved to find he could recognise the stage finish from a previous race… that’s not indicative of somebody who’s been planning a GC assault for several months. His acceleration of yesteryear isn’t there either, and that’s crucial in the age of bonus seconds.
      In any case, I think targeting stages suits Cummings’ world view more than GC long hauls so he’ll be pushing them that way I think.

      • I don’t disagree. They probably expected more of Martinez, but Geraint is delivering to make up for that… I personally think Yates will fade with a bad day soon and having yet to see Pidcock climb at this level have a feeling he’ll also drop quickly this week – leaving only Thomas, and stages which, as you say, which Cummings is the perfect DS for.

        At the same time, Ineos has a big name and Cummings will have his own ambitions to deliver on their heritage I expect? So I don’t think it’s silly to suggest he might be planning a big switcheroo at some stage… but I have a feeling waiting as long as possible into the 3rd WK for a Formigal (to allow little chance for others the punch back) makes the most sense.

        Although if he is ~(like me)~ expecting his GC trident to fall away then going for something spectacular before it’s too late might also make sense.

        Plus it’s always best after a rest day – having not ridden today’s course though I don’t know whether the roads aid such a plan?

        • In the absence of Bernal, I get the sense that their big GC ambitions this year were with Carapaz at the Giro. If he had won it, I’m not certain he would be doing the Vuelta. Their “let the road decide” strategy for the Tour is risky, as the road may decide “none of the above.”

  3. You would say that the Quick Step squad has a couple of riders that should get in the breakaway in order to have any chance of a win. Cattaneo probably likes a litter thougher climb (he might still try), but this stage would be perfect for Honore and Bagioli. But so far they are nowhere to be seen..

  4. Nestlé with Vittel (and also the neighbouring Contrexéville) are not just content with shipping water round Europe in plastic bottles, but also plundering the already threatened water table under the town. Those who work there keep quiet while others are far from happy and say so.

    GC riders will surely be thinking of the Galibier tomorrow. Could Barguil be allowed some freedom to go for it, Pinot too, though he would prefer 14th July and L’Alpe d’Huez.

  5. The shorter stages of today and the next two days will soften the blow, but surely the heat will take its toll? I’m not sure about the top 4 in that regard, and expect to see one or two falter – possibly good for Mas and Nairo, although they might be looking to week 3 as well.

  6. I wonder if some sprinters could be in difficulty today – a short stage with a moderate coefficient, so the time cut won’t be especially generous. But at the same time, hilly, but not super hard, from the start, so conceivable that the break takes an hour or more to go. Anyone dropped before the first climb could be in trouble.

    • These shorter stages can often be ridden quickly, I guess it depends on how Pogacar is feeling in the heat.
      If he’s feeling good, UAE have shown that they can rip minutes out of the breakaway on these long, gradual climbs at the finish. They were hot on the tail of Jungels on Sunday.
      If Pogacar is feeling ok, maybe he’ll test out how the Brits and the Dane like the warm stuff?

    • Cavendish was on Eurosport after the last stage and said the same: this kind of stage can be worse for sprinters than a big mountain stage with 1 or 2 huge climbs. His reasoning was basically just what you’ve said – the hills are right at the beginning, the time cut is less generous, plus the front group is going faster and has a motorbike with it. All in all as a sprinter you’re working hard right from the gun to make the time cut.

  7. UAE were made to chase on Sunday’s stage because of Uran’s presence in the break and if we have someone like Caruso up the road then it’ll spice things up. Otherwise, as it’s a day before 2 mountain stages (albeit short ones) I’d bet on a breakaway day. The jokers in the pack are the heat and post-rest day legs. Majka and Bennett for UAE are the ones to watch as they will want to save themselves for the next 2 days. If those two are not near the front of the peloton then we’ll know why – but Ineos or JV might well then up the pace to keep the war of attrition going. (Glad to see Horner agreed with me on WvA should be on dom duties for JV)

    • Bahrain have been very quiet so far, seeming to have shut themselves up rather than ostentatiously telling everybody else to shut up. Correlation or causation?

  8. I’m normally completely wrong so I predict a GC stalemate today with no real action as contenders save themselves for the next 2 days.

    • This isn’t much of a prediction either way!!

      The current GC, point in the race and today’s route scream 99% likely this will be a stalemate unless something like a mechanical or a crash happens…

      There’s a tiny chance (which I’m really hoping for!!) that Ineos try something but I’m not sure I see why anyone would risk anything now – as Jumbo can wait for harder climbs to see if Vinny can drop Pog and even Ineos would likely be best advised to wait for later stages – no one else likely has the capacity to hit unless maybe Bora look to drag Vlasov back into it? Most others are licking their wounds or historically conservative (Movistar, even if they’ll find it hard to win the team competition this year!).

      I’d be stunned if today wasn’t a stalemate even if I’m crossing my fingers for a surprise.

      • This was the point I was making. I hoped for action so thought by predicting no action it might happen. As suspected nothing happened. Pogacar couldn’t help himself in the final few meters. Reminded me of the end of club rides where people want to win the ride not the race.

  9. There is a free fountain, the original source of evian, behind the original rather splendid company building. Been there a couple of times now, my dog loves it!

    • That makes it a total of four riders so far.
      Fortunately we have avoided the rophesied repeat of the recent Tour de Suisse situation. But it is indeed too early to call it a mission accomplised.

      • A bit of background info for brits who might not understand this. With a PCR test there is a reading of the amount of virus detected. A figure of 33 or below is counted as non infectious, below that figure you are defined as “having Covid”. If you have a very bad infection a number of below 20 would be returned.

        • A rumour has it Majka got away with a “33 or higher”. Losing both would indeed spell o-h-s-h-i-t for UAE (although I’m sure Pogacar could triumph even if that became a reality).
          Anyway, I don’t think we are anywhere near a hit the panic button or tell everyone the Tour is doomed kind of situation. Let’s concentrate on the race, there is still lots of things to look forward to!
          And I would argue that te DNFs and the DNSs we have seen so far have had less impact on the race than in most so called normal, pre-Covid-19 years.

        • Not below, above. It is the number of cycles you magnify/duplicates generic materials before you find those of a virus. So the more cycles of magnification needed to find the virus the safer you are (or owner the load you have) , with the threshold set at 33. You also need to see the trajectory. With Jungles, it took more cycles in consecutive tests to find virus, so he was moving away from the threshold. I hope it’s the same situation with Rafa. Though I kind of doubt they have enough time for two PCRs, as there needs to be enough time between tests (or at least samples) so that the viral load has meaningfully changed.

      • Yes, huge issue – these are the guys that bunk up and eat and ride the team bus with Pogacar. The issue isn’t as much having the mountain lieutenants, it is catching the virus himself and either failing the testing protocols or having significant symptoms which could dampen his performance OR BOTH….

        If I was Tadej I’d be super careful this year when inside with teammates and whenever possible hope his team can set up meals in an outdoor courtyard or something. Be super careful…

  10. It’s an ideal final climb for J-V to have Van Aert pull his butt out until there are no UAE domestiques left, and then for Roglic to attack wildly and force Pogi to choose whether to chase personally or let Roglic back into GC contention.

    • I just don’t see this.

      Roglic can attack and Pog could likely follow snookering the move from the start plus forcing Vinny to follow up attack and waste energy on a climb that’s likely not hard enough for either to drop Pog. Riding a strong pace for an attack on a later stage makes more sense.

      Or in your scenario, Pog could just let him go as there’s just no way he gains the two minutes he needs – even if he did Pogacar can just ride his pace and drop Roglic later in the race as we’ve never seen Rog recover from an attack like this.

      There are only two ways outside of crashes/covid/mechanical that Pogacar loses this race:

      Vinny drops him good and proper and vaugely regularly on final ascents as he’s simply the better climber.

      Or JV/Ineos pull a Formigal, likely toward the end of the race even if it would be great to see today.

    • Ferdi – Wout Van Aert to pull and drop ALL climbers on a 21km mountain pass? How? Even though “it is only 4.5%” it is 21km and has long sections greater than 7%… WVA is a beast… but this is a little much.

    • I could only follow stage on livetext – it seems a little dull but I had the same thought about Sunday until I watched that evening and realised it had been great.

  11. Pogacar is avoiding his own team like a plague whilst Ineos and Jumbo sits behind them. Not sure this is a good idea covid risk wise.

    On the other hand, it would be funny if Ineos and Jumbo just start to ride away on the front on the flat whilst Pogacar is social distancing his own team deep in the pack. Not sure 3 UAEs can pag back Ineos and Jumbo together. Plus the final climb is not hard enough, so drafting counts and Pogacar’s climbing power doesn’t make as much difference.

  12. Someone else mentioned about how even though Pogacar is called ‘untouchable’ or whatever superlative, his lead is solely down to bonus seconds at this point and without them there would be a much smaller or no lead.

    I wonder how the modern race would change if they took away bonus seconds. There seems a proclivity in the GC to defensively ride, nip seconds and then focus on TT. Is it intentional or just a result of closely matched competitors where if you attack, 9/10 times you end up losing time in the GC it seems.

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