Tour de France Stage 10 Preview

A sprint stage and a visit to the centre of France today, or at least to two of the places that stake their claim to be the geographical centre of the country.

Stage 9 Review: notes to commend a fine day’s racing with plenty of action and constantly changing scenarios:

  • Anthony Turgis got an overdue win, a podium finisher in Sanremo
  • He was one of the first riders to race regularly with a 55T chainring, he’s on his seventh Tour and has ridden most if not all of them with one, a sign of his force.
  • The other winner was Jonas Vingegaard who survived the onslaught and without looking his odds on the overall must be shortening, with stories of a third week revival.
  • France has a lot of vineyards with gravel roads in between and after this expect more although note the Troyes stage was in the planning for years, the Tour de France Femmes were the pioneers and this validated things for the men.

The Route: 187km and 950m of vertical gain, the flattest stage of the race outside of last week’s time trial. That mysterious bump close to the finish? Nothing much, a long straight road that does rise but no more than 5% for a brief moment.

The course does have some changes of direction, it goes east to Vierzon, then south, the east, then south as if trying to catch the wind but it might not blow enough.

The Finish: a run through town to finish by the pyramidal building, a site that has hosted previous Tour and Paris-Nice finishes. Rather than a straight run to the line there are three bends in the final kilometre, a pinchpoint at 700m with the final corner at 500m to go.

The Contenders: a likely sprint stage. There’s no hierarchy but Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is the persistent pick for close finishes, he’s clearly not got last year’s form, likewise his leadout Mathieu van der Poel but he’s coming close. Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco) has shown he can win fast flat sprints, likewise Mark Cavendish (Astana).

Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) is close easier to see for a “podium” (nobody who finishes second or third actually visits the podium) and the flat finish isn’t what green jersey Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty) thrives but he can keep racking up points by placing too.

Philipsen, Groenewegen
Cavendish, Girmay
De Lie

Weather: sunny and 29°C with a risk of a thunderstorm late in the stage but more likely in the evening. When the Tour came here in 2013 the route looked the most dull stage of the Tour on paper but crosswinds turned it into a big day but this is normally a calm region. A weather system is coming in but gently, and a 15km/h wind from the WSW means a crosswind and it could gust stronger but unlikely.

TV: KM0 is at 1.25pm CEST and the finish is forecast for 5.35pm CEST. Tune in for the sprint, tomorrow’s stage offers a lot more.


Postcard from Bruère-Allichamps
Where is the centre of France? With 10km to go today there is Bruère-Allichamps and as the postcard shows it hosts the “column of the centre of France”. The finish today Saint-Amand-Montrond also stakes a claim, as do five more places.

It’s a tricky question. First we have to define what is France because as a political entity it includes overseas departments in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. More often métropolitain France is typically deployed, as in mainland France but do we include Corsica or not? This only narrows things down.

Bruère-Allichamps got there first when cartographers selected it in the late 18th century but this was a rudimentary attempt using the best means at the time. Clearly maps were only partially accurate and France’s borders have since changed which tweaks things significantly.

Today it is possible to be more accurate, even to account for the curvature of the planet. France’s Institut national de l’information géographique et forestière, the government agency tasked with measuring and mapping France’s geography, often better known as IGN, has worked on this geodetic project. Using the “Affholder method”, it involves plotting the boundaries of the area, in this case France, on a spheroid to mimic the Earth’s curvature and then to finding the centre of gravity – which sits slightly below the surface – and marking the place above. So where is the centre? The answer is for the race to continue past Saint-Amand for 30km to reach the small village of Nassigny; or if you want to exclude Corsica then nearby Vesdun just to the northwest.

64 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 10 Preview”

  1. It is not clear that Vingegaard understands that he is 42 seconds behind Evenopoel. Hard to know how uncomfortable his replacement bike was but it remains to be seen how smart it was not to get some time back.
    This was a stage that held your attention but in the end the tortoise finished with the hares.

    • I think the high mountains is where he wants to take back time on Evenepoel, and without losing any to Pogaçar. Gravel is Pogi’s turf so Jonas followed and not more. It’s boring to watch but it makes sense.

    • There was a good discussion on Never Strays Far about how Tratnik was probably riding JV’s bike which is why they never needed to do a swap. As evidence they said Jonas did his warm down on the “Tratnik’s” bike.

      • David Millar suggested on ITV live commentary that the physical similarities between Tratnik and JV was one reason why he was selected, to have a replacement bike strategy on the gravel where the team cars are not on hand.

      • I can’t remember which TV it was, Eurosport or FranceTV but pretty sure they interviewed Tratnik before the stage who said he was on Vingegaard’s bike for the day. Seem to recall FranceTV interviewed Turgis and Pidcock too before the stage, good picks.

      • Escape mentioned they were there own bikes, but Vinegaard had gone as far to ride Tratniks bike during training camps to check he could use it.

    • It was a risk averse approach from Vingegaard, and rightly so I think – if he goes alone with Pog/Remco or later with Pog, then yes he gains on some others (including Remco in second scenario), but he also puts himself at risk of losing time should Pog attack or he gets another mechanical etc…better to play a defensive game on this stage, ensure no time is lost, and live to fight another day on a stage better suited to his abilities. There’s still 2 weeks to claw back those 42 seconds on Evenepoel…

  2. In saying “no” to Pogačar and Evenopoel, Vingegaard was like the child saying “no” to the stranger offering candy to get into his car. It was the right decision and certainly must be commended. That said, the racing would have been even better (but perhaps not for Vingegaard) if he had said “yes.”

  3. I thought Remco Evenpoel´s whinges showed immaturity. Jonas Vingegaard played it well, shut down the moves and then was not prepared to work. He would be the loser in any sprint, so let the other two burn up energy. Good tactics in my view. I do wonder if Tadej Pogacer is pointlessly expending energy, I know it is boring but looking to conserve resources for the third week has been shown to be the way to win the TDF.

    • Is there that much need to conserve energy for the final week? There’s not much going on this week and I wouldn’t say next week is overly hard? None of the mountain stages are very long. I’m not saying JV should have worked but Pogacar certainly isn’t doing anything wrong being Pogacar!

    • I like Remco but that was a silly comment about having the balls to race. Vinny could have fired back that you need brains to win too.

    • It made for a good headline, but in the full interview Remco comes across a lot more balanced and understanding of Vingegaard’s decision, though obviously a little frustrated at the same time…

      • Yeah, I get that. I read that. But he said it in the full knowledge it would get picked up and focused on (he’s a bright bloke after all who knows very well how the media works). It was a silly comment.

        • I didn’t like at all Remco’s comment, it’s not the sort of “original” things I miss in interviews. Yet, that said, as Remco is very media aware as you stated, it could also be a “good” media/mind move, although one which could easily backfire when he’ll be dropped. He’s cut an image of Vingo as a wheelsucker, which works on an underlying theme – and nobody likes a wheelsucker (the point not being obviously is Vingegaard is or not that sort of rider – it was the right thing not to work in that move, unlike perhaps the latter one – the point is rather building up a negative narrative about your rival, which always will work against him).

          • And Remco may have to eat his words as he sucks Vinny’s wheel for as long as he can in the high mountains. Except he may end up not being in the race and left behind instead. I don’t see Vinny as the type who cares what he says or the narrative he’s trying to push.

          • @KevinR, yeah, I pointed that out above. Yet, it’s worth noting that sucking the wheels and being dropped doesn’t equal as such being a wheelsucker. Besides, I suspect that Remco’s target was, if anything, fellow riders and the mediascape, not directly Vingegaard (who for now looks like he couldn’t care less as seen in multiple occasions, I agree with you).
            However, I tend to agree with G. Thomas rather than with Remco right now… (which doesn’t mean any result is really more probable than the rest, the situation is actually of utter uncertainty, hence just a bit of wild guessing).

  4. This reader has taken pleasure in second-tier teams’ victories this year. DSM, Arkéa, Jayco and Astana will all be satisfied with their 2024 Tour while Intermarché will be delighted. Let’s have another today: Decathlon with Bennett, EF with Van Den Berg, IPT with Ackermann or UNO-X with Kristoff, though I admit all look unlikely.

  5. Turgis has to be one of the most underrated riders of the last 10 years! This has been coming for years! He rarely has had a chance! A real powerhouse of a rider who packs a really strong sprint! As soon as that break formed I picked him out as the winner (I got lucky for sure!)

    I hope this makes his career and gives him confidence to win again – maybe to have a genuine chance at PR, or perhaps realistically to win a real live 🐷 😉.

    • He is a good rider, but not tactically the most astute. Usually he tries to get away just a bit too early and gets caught with 1 or 2 KM to go. Surprisingly he played it very well this time.

  6. Many thanks for the historical and technical account of the centre of France calculations.

    Most interestinng and authoritative, as usual.

  7. The post card feature continues to be a wonderful addition to daily posts. Enjoyed learning about the Affholder method, perhaps employed by the race planners for efficiency and execution of logistics?

    In terms of the race, Remco seems to be in incredibly good shape and looking very relaxed, is it possible, without a high mountain blow up, he could hold off JV and pass TP?

    • You answered your own question with the blow up part. I really hope he doesn’t have that extra bad day but even so I don’t think he can quite climb with the very best when it kicks off.

      • I found it in an interesting volte face that on the northern classics style gravel stage Movistar had multiple riders in a group up the road fighting for a win and Quick Step were floundering trying to support an uncomfortable GC rider. How times change!

        • Haha, well put! Maybe Movistar were just trying to claw back time for the teams’ classification, thereby restoring the status quo?

          • Good one. I still can’t figure out how Movistar had 3 men in a break of 11, the only team with more than one rider I think, and didn’t win. That’s also classic Movistar.

    • Other caveat is: where is Evenepoel supposed to gain time on Pogacar? Evenepoel looks stronger than ever, but still a step or two bellow the top.

  8. For those of you hoping for a more interesting day’s racing, here is a crumb of hope.
    This morning I am 300 kms south west of the race finish and the vent d’Autan is blowing. This is the warm SE wind that funnels up from the Med into the Aquitaine basin. Normally it doesn’t blow as far as the centre of France but it is often a harbinger of changeable, sometimes violent weather so I would say there is a chance of strong gusts during today’s stage. Weather forecast predicting SW gusts of 45kmh at the finish.
    Might yet see some echelons.

  9. Like many others, thank you for the insightful postcard feature, as well as the knowledgeable cycling notes.
    In addition to French overseas territories in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, there is a lesser known territory in the north Atlantic – St Pierre et Miquelon – merely 20km off Canada’s Newfoundland coast.

  10. In the US, the “original” geo-graphic center (that is, the most well-known attempt to find one) was of the “lower 48” states (ie pre-Alaska/Hawaii) but did not include all the other outlier spots. Anyway, the way they went about it was to print a very large map of the 48 states, cut as closely as possible around the northern & southern borders as well as the shoreline, glue it to a very large backing board cut to match, and place the board on a ball bearing supported by a table. When the map balanced as well as possible on the bearing, the point directly above the bearing (a crossroads in north-central Kansas just south of the Nebraska border) was labeled the geo center.
    What they nor French colleagues factored in was the topography. If one flattens out all the high points, there would surely be a different geo-logic center.

  11. I didn’t enjoy the spectacle of Vingegaard riding like he fancies himself to be the race’s virtual leader. ( I also didn’t enjoy the spectacle of Pogacar recklessly indulging Vingegaard’s idea that he’s the virtual leader.)

  12. Easier said than done, but would have been good if UAE had fired Almeida or Ayuso up the road after Vino refused to work, as a relay. But neither seemed up to it unfortunately.
    Maybe Pog should have just let Remco ride off and sat on Vino – “if you are only going to mark me – then I will only mark you” after all, he’s got more of a buffer on remco than Vino.

    • That would have made more tactical sense than Remco and Pog moaning about Vinny sitting on them and not playing their game that could have led to him losing the Tour.

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