It was a stage perfectly suited for the sprinters, and the question at the beginning was, will it be Tyler Farrar or Mark Cavendish who will throw his arms up at the end?
But neither of the two favorites took first place in the final meter at the finish: Cavendish took an early sprint without his usual HTC Highroads team in the final meters, and was bested at the line by Andre Greipel.
Greipel punched his fist into the air for the victory, perhaps doubly delicious because he was dropped from the HTC team in 2010, and was racing for Omega Pharma Lotto in this year’s Tour.
Greipel who was clearly elated by his win explained how he was not given the opportunity to sprint while riding for HTC-Highroads:
“Of course it was always a hard decision that the sport directors [at HTC] had to make about selection and the success of Mark Cavendish is incredible – he’s won 17 stagse of the Tour de France – and this sort of record gave the sport directors and him the right to make the selection. That’s why it’s been hard for me in the past to get in to do this race. I’m grateful to Omega Pharma-Lotto for giving me a chance and I’m happy that I could win for this team,” he said.
Among the top contenders for the overall, Thomas Voeckler retained his Yellow Jersey, second place finish went to Luis Leon Sanchez, with Cadel Evans third. Frank and Andy Schleck remained in fourth and fifth position.
Phillipe Gilbert, also of the Omega Pharma Lotto team had made a late play for the line by taking a flyer off the front of the peloton which was not successful. He was looking for a stage win.
“In the end, it became very difficult because there was still a climb near the finish and I could not hold on to my advantage. I went back in the peloton, and immediatley took the wheel of Greipel so no other sprinter could get in his wake. ”
But it was the work of Gilbert that ultimately assured the victory of his Omega Pharma Lotto teammate because by upping the pace at the front of the climb, he forced Mark Renshaw and Matt Goss to drop, leaving Cavendish for the finish without his usual strong man line up.
Not a strictly flat course, the 158 km stage from Aurillac to Carmaux featured a handful of 3 and 4 category climbs which could tire some of the stronger sprinters whose strengths are not in the hills.
The stage’s geography also favored breakaways as the tour entered the Cevennes region, before it heads to the tougher climbing in the Pyrenees.
The peloton looked for ways to get rid of the sprinters, with Omega Pharma Lotto driving the pace at the front up the climb 16 km from the finish hoping to drop Mark Cavendish of the HTC Highroads team, and give an advantage to their teammate Phillipe Gilbert.
Their push shredded the peloton leaving them with about 25 riders behind the break ahead. That break was soon finally caught, but Yellow Jersey holder Thomas Voeckler stuck to Gilbert’s wheel, while he, Gilbert, Tony Martin, QuickStep rider, Devenyns, and Tony Gallopin of the Cofidis team established a five rider lead in front of the peloton, and breaching the last climb 14 km before the finish.
Behind them the peloton was being organized by Team Leopard, Team Sky, Garmin Cervelo and in that chase peloton was Cavendish, Farrar, Leipheimer, and Hushovd.
As the five leaders flew down the mountain to the finish in the town of Carmaux, they were 15 seconds ahead of the main field, which quickly narrowed to 7 seconds.
A move on the right by Euskadil rider was not matched by the peloton. Mark Renshaw (HTC) was dropped by the main group, leaving any sprint by Cavendish ahead without his best lead out man.
At more than 6 km to the finish, Gilbert took a flyer off the front of the break group, and established a small lead ahead of the peloton. He was soon caught by the peloton, this time with a chase being organized by Team BMC, and specifically George Hincapie.
HTC Highroads were in control of the race near the finish when the peloton reached the last hill to the finish at 4.5 km to go. Tejay van Garderen was setting the pace, when Matt Goss dropped behind a long line of the team’s lead-out. That left two of the best lead out guys out of the HTC train that has so famously led Cavendish to the finish in the past. Could it be that now it would be Mano a Mano for the Manx man and his competitors Hushovd, Gilbert, and Farrar?
Then a late move by Kadri (ALM) and Ruijgh (VCD) gave them a lead of about 50 meters on the peloton, which dissolved about 2 km from the finish.
At about 1 km to go, it appeared that HTC Highroads had control, but Andre Greipel of team Omega Pharma lotto came up close behind. Cavendish took a lead out on his own a little too soon, and Greipel was able to best him to the line.
Greipel was an ex-team mate of Cavendish, and perhaps was all the more delighted to take the finish because of the rivalry between the two.
Jose Joaquin Rojas was third, and Thor Hushovd was fourth in the sprint.
Johnny Hoogerland who retained the climber’s jersey at the end of the day told Versus this morning that despite the rest day he had only had 6 hours of sleep over two days because of the injuries he sustained.
In stage 9 two days ago, Hoogerland was catapulted into barbed wire by Juan Antonio Flechas, who had been sideswiped by a motor vehicle carrying France 1, 2 3, the television station.
That driver has been ejected from the Tour. It was the second such type of accident: the first was a motorbike that took out rider Nicki Sorenson earlier in the Tour.
Amazingly, Hoogerland made it through today’s stage. “Today I felt better on the bike than I felt in bed or walking,” said the Dutch rider after the stage who said it was adrenaline that got him through the day.
Had he ever thought of quitting the Tour?: “The only time that I really thought about stopping the Tour de France was during the two seconds that I was flying through the air… and then my thought was, ‘Oh! My God!’ But then, when I was lying there and I could move, my only thought was to get back up…. Watching the footage makes me very emotional,” he added.
And that’s what makes a real bike rider.
Play by Play
There were 178 riders at the start of the 158km 10th stage of the 2011 Tour de France – from Aurillac to Carmaux. The non-starters were Kolobnev (KAT) and Popovych (RSH).
The stage featured four climbs: the category 3 cote de Figeac (62.5km), category 4 cote de Loupiac (70.5km), category 3 cote de Villefranche-de-Rouergue (99.5km), and cote de Mirandol-Bourgnounac (143km). The intermediate sprint was in Maurs at the 37.5km mark.
At 10.5 km from the start, five riders were able to gain a slight advantage over the peloton; at 11km there was a crash that caught up Flecha, Cancellara, Leukamans, Leipheimer, and Gesink, among others, but they rejoined the bunch by 15km.
By then, six men were in the lead including Di Gregorio (AST), Minard (ALM), Vichot (FDJ), El Fares (COF), Marcato (VCD) and Delaplace (SAU).
At 26 km the break was ahead of the main group by 40 seconds, and at 5 km from the sprint, they were 2 minutes and 40 seconds ahead. That’s when Movistar and Omega Pharma came past the Europcar team to start a lead-out to the intermediate sprint.
Vichot grabbed 20 points by leading the escape over the line in Maurs and Cavendish took seventh place at the front of the peloton 2 minutes and 15 seconds behind the break.
Today’s stage had the fastest start to a stage in 2011, with the average speed for the opening hour at 51.6 km per hour, a result perhaps of the riders having a full rest day yesterday.
Team HTC-Highroads and Team Europcar, Voeckler’s team shared time at the front of the peloton pushing the pace.
Marcato led the escape over the first two climbs, but by then the pace of the leaders and the peloton had gone down closer to an average of 40 km per hour.
Ignatiev (KAT), Knees (SKY) and some Lampre riders also took pulls at the front of the peloton, but it was Cav’s team that steadily reeled in the break, which perhaps led to their faltering near the end of the stage, spitting out Renshaw and Goss after an attack by Philippe Gilbert. It’s these kind of moves that really anger the riders, because in their view, the Omega Pharma Lotto team benefitted from the pull through the majority of the race, but then became opportunistic at the finish.
On a descent 21km from the finish Marcato increased his speed and Minard followed. Vichot chased this pair down. Three riders who had been split off the back of the break Di Gregorio (AST), El Fares (COF) and Delaplace (SAU) were caught 17 km from the finish.
Eventually the speed of an Omega Pharma-Lotto surge that shredded Petacchi, Farrar, Galimzyanov and several others from the main peloton caught all of the break before the top of the final climb. Marcato was the last to be caught (at 16km to go).
Gallopin (COF) put in a strong turn in the final kilometer of the last climb and took four other riders with him, including Gilbert (OLO), Devenyns (QST), Martin (THR) and Voeckler (EUC).
The yellow jersey claimed first place at the top of the final climb and, with 11 km to go, the five man break was fifteen seconds ahead of the peloton that was being led by Leopard-Trek.
With 7 km to go, Gilbert was alone in the lead and it appeared as though he was trying to secure the stage win.
But he was caught 5 km from the line.
Kadri (ALM) and Ruijgh (VCD) and Izagirre (EUS) all took a late flyer off the front, but were caught less than 4km from the line.
David Milar (GRM) made a last ditch attempt to best the peloton to the finish by taking a lead off the front, but it was short lived: he too was caught before the descent leading to the line.
Going under the ‘Flamme Rouge’ there were two HTC riders at the front but Oss (LIQ) led Cavendish around the final turn.
With no riders in front of him, about 400 meters from the line Cavendish was forced into a long sprint and although it looked like he could make it, his former team-mate André Greipel was stronger.
The German overtook the Cav’ in the final 50 meters and claimed his first Tour de France stage win by about a wheel.
It is Omega Pharma-Lotto’s second stage win in the 2011 Tour. Greipel’s team-mate Gilbert continues to lead the points classification (finishing 14th in the stage); Hoogerland keeps his polka-dot jersey and Voeckler finished 36th with the same time as the winner.
OVERALL STANDINGS AT THE END OF STAGE 10: Source: ASO
|1.||VOECKLER Thomas||181||TEAM EUROPCAR||42h 06′ 32″|
|2.||SANCHEZ Luis-Leon||47||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||42h 08′ 21″||+ 01′ 49″|
|3.||EVANS Cadel||141||BMC RACING TEAM||42h 08′ 58″||+ 02′ 26″|
|4.||SCHLECK Frank||18||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||42h 09′ 01″||+ 02′ 29″|
|5.||SCHLECK Andy||11||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||42h 09′ 09″||+ 02′ 37″|
|6.||MARTIN Tony||175||HTC – HIGHROAD||42h 09′ 10″||+ 02′ 38″|
|7.||VELITS Peter||179||HTC – HIGHROAD||42h 09′ 10″||+ 02′ 38″|
|8.||KLÖDEN Andréas||74||TEAM RADIOSHACK||42h 09′ 15″||+ 02′ 43″|
|9.||GILBERT Philippe||32||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||42h 09′ 27″||+ 02′ 55″|
|10.||FUGLSANG Jakob||13||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||42h 09′ 40″||+ 03′ 08″|
|11.||BASSO Ivan||91||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||42h 10′ 08″||+ 03′ 36″|
|12.||CUNEGO Damiano||161||LAMPRE – ISD||42h 10′ 09″||+ 03′ 37″|
|13.||ROCHE Nicolas||101||AG2R LA MONDIALE||42h 10′ 17″||+ 03′ 45″|
|14.||DE WEERT Kevin||124||QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM||42h 10′ 19″||+ 03′ 47″|
|15.||GESINK Robert||41||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||42h 10′ 33″||+ 04′ 01″|
|16.||CONTADOR Alberto||1||SAXO BANK SUNGARD||42h 10′ 39″||+ 04′ 07″|
|17.||DANIELSON Tom||52||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||42h 10′ 54″||+ 04′ 22″|
|18.||TAARAMAE Rein||151||COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE||42h 11′ 24″||+ 04′ 52″|
|19.||VANDE VELDE Christian||58||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||42h 11′ 25″||+ 04′ 53″|
|20.||SANCHEZ Samuel||21||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||42h 11′ 33″||+ 05′ 01″|
|21.||BARREDO Carlos||42||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||42h 11′ 36″||+ 05′ 04″|
|22.||KARPETS Vladimir||191||KATUSHA TEAM||42h 11′ 37″||+ 05′ 05″|
|23.||MONFORT Maxime||15||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||42h 11′ 39″||+ 05′ 07″|
|24.||HUSHOVD Thor||51||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||42h 11′ 45″||+ 05′ 13″|
|25.||ZUBELDIA Haimar||79||TEAM RADIOSHACK||42h 11′ 46″||+ 05′ 14″|
|26.||JEANNESSON Arnold||134||FDJ||42h 11′ 53″||+ 05′ 21″|
|27.||PERAUD Jean-Christophe||108||AG2R LA MONDIALE||42h 12′ 04″||+ 05′ 32″|
|28.||MILLAR David||56||TEAM GARMIN – CERVELO||42h 12′ 04″||+ 05′ 32″|
|29.||TROFIMOV Yury||199||KATUSHA TEAM||42h 12′ 11″||+ 05′ 39″|
|30.||RUIJGH Rob||208||VACANSOLEIL-DCM||42h 12′ 15″||+ 05′ 43″|
|31.||CASAR Sandy||131||FDJ||42h 12′ 15″||+ 05′ 43″|
|32.||THOMAS Geraint||117||SKY PROCYCLING||42h 12′ 23″||+ 05′ 51″|
|33.||LEUKEMANS Bjorn||205||VACANSOLEIL-DCM||42h 12′ 58″||+ 06′ 26″|
|34.||COPPEL Jérôme||211||SAUR-SOJASUN||42h 13′ 07″||+ 06′ 35″|
|35.||GERDEMANN Linus||14||TEAM LEOPARD-TREK||42h 13′ 12″||+ 06′ 40″|
|36.||LEIPHEIMER Levi||75||TEAM RADIOSHACK||42h 13′ 48″||+ 07′ 16″|
|37.||URAN Rigoberto||118||SKY PROCYCLING||42h 13′ 52″||+ 07′ 20″|
|38.||HAGEN Edvald Boasson||114||SKY PROCYCLING||42h 14′ 17″||+ 07′ 45″|
|39.||DEVENYNS Dries||125||QUICK STEP CYCLING TEAM||42h 14′ 48″||+ 08′ 16″|
|40.||GUSEV Vladimir||194||KATUSHA TEAM||42h 15′ 17″||+ 08′ 45″|
|41.||GAUTIER Cyril||183||TEAM EUROPCAR||42h 15′ 44″||+ 09′ 12″|
|42.||ROLLAND Pierre||188||TEAM EUROPCAR||42h 15′ 52″||+ 09′ 20″|
|43.||VERDUGO Gorka||29||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||42h 17′ 04″||+ 10′ 32″|
|44.||PATERSKI Maciej||96||LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE||42h 18′ 42″||+ 12′ 10″|
|45.||MARTINEZ Egoi||23||EUSKALTEL – EUSKADI||42h 19′ 38″||+ 13′ 06″|
|46.||VANENDERT Jelle||38||OMEGA PHARMA – LOTTO||42h 20′ 09″||+ 13′ 37″|
|47.||TEN DAM Laurens||48||RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM||42h 21′ 13″||+ 14′ 41″|
|48.||HINCAPIE George||144||BMC RACING TEAM||42h 21′ 25″||+ 14′ 53″|