Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Stage 10 Review

Courtesy of


There has long been a war of words between André Greipel and Mark Cavendish but it was one largely perpetuated by the media. The ‘Supermanx’ repeatedly says that he doesn’t care about who his rivals are, he just wants to win sprints... but in Carmaux the German giant from Omega Pharma-Lotto not only pushed Cavendish all the way to the line, he beat him. A few days shy of his 29th birthday, Greipel has claimed his maiden victory at the Tour and he did so in a sprint that didn’t include all the specialists in this discipline. Guys like Tyler Farrar, Denis Galimzyanov and Matt Goss lost contact with the first peloton in the closing kilometers that were animated by the leader of the points classification Philippe Gilbert.
There were other escapees in the final kilometers and it was sprint after a battle of attrition... and in the end it was the debutant who opened his account in the race by just half a wheel. In this round at least ‘The Giant’ beat ‘Supermanx’...

The Progress Report
The start of the 158km 10th stage of the 2011 Tour de France – from Aurillac to Carmaux – was at 1.38pm. There were 178 riders at the start with the non-starters Kolobnev (KAT) and Popovych (RSH). There was a hail storm an hour before the start but the storm passed before the race began on dry roads with temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. The stage featured four climbs: the cat-3 cote de Figeac (62.5km), cat-4 cote de Loupiac (70.5km), cat-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.

Attack And Crash...
At 10.5km, 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, Gesink... but they rejoined the bunch by 15km. By then, six men were in the lead – they were: Di Gregorio (AST), Minard (ALM), Vichot (FDJ), El Fares (COF), Marcato (VCD) and Delaplace (SAU). At 26km they led by 40” and, 5km from the sprint, they were 2’40” 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 2’15” behind the escapees. The maximum gain of the escape was 4’00” at 49.5km. It was the fastest start to a stage in 2011, with the average speed for the opening hour an impressive 51.6km/h. The peloton was led by Europcar from 20km to 35km (when the sprint squads took command of the bunch) and then from 45km to 50km when HTC put Bak and Pate at the front to share the chasing duties with Voeckler’s team.
Marcato led the escape over the first two climbs and the peloton hovered about 3’30” behind. HTC, Katusha and Lampre all had riders at the front of the bunch, shadowed closely by the Europcar team of overall leader Voeckler. The average speed for the second hour was 40.2km/h.

HTC Keeps Escapees Honest...
The HTC team put Bak and Pate on the front early and they stayed there through to the final hour. Ignatiev (KAT), Knees (SKY) and some Lampre riders also did some turns for the pursuit but it was Cav’s team that steadily reeled in the escape: 2’00” at with 54km to go, 1’20” with 40km to go, 50” with 25km to go. On a descent 21km from the finish Marcato increated the tempo up front and Minard followed. Vichot chased this pair down and at 18km to go. The other three were caught 17km from the finish. And eventually the speed of an Omega Pharma-Lotto surge that eliminated Petacchi, Farrar, Galimzyanov and bunch of others from the main caught all escapees before the top of the final climb. Marcato was the last to be caught (at 16km to go).

Gilbert Sets Up The Sprint For Greipel
Gallopin (COF) put in a strong turn in the final kilometer of the last climb and drew four others clear of the peloton with him: Gilbert (OLO), Devenyns (QST), Martin (THR) and Voeckler (EUC). The yellow jersey claimed first place at the top of the final climb and, with 11km to go, the leading quintet was 15” ahead of the peloton that was led by Leopard-Trek. With 7km to go, Gilbert was alone in the lead of the stage and it appeared as though he was going to try and hold off the bunch all the way to the finish. But he was caught 5km from the line. Kadri (ALM) and Ruijgh (VCD) and Izagirre (EUS) all chanced their luck and tested their legs in the finale but all were caught less than 4km from the line. Milar (GRM) was the last to try and foil the sprinters but 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 one in front of him, Cavendish was forced into a long sprint roughly 400 meters from the line and although he opened up a solid advantage over the rest of the bunch, his former team-mate André Greipel never conceded. The German overtook the winner of 17 stages 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. The Frenchman will wear the yellow jersey in stage 12.

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