On the second Saturday of the 2010 Tour de France the leader of the RadioShack team conceded that his race for the overall victory was over. Lance Armstrong was once the only man from his teams who won stages – with only Savoldelli and Hincapie getting their personal chance during the long reign of The Boss. But in Gap the winner gave Lance’s RadioShack squad a reward in its first appearance in the Tour. He was part of an escape group of six that eventually formed after a fast, aggressive start. And that’s when the peloton opted to remain calm on a very hot day of racing. The escape succeeded, and Paulinho was the strongest man. He beat Vasili Kiryienka in a two-man sprint on a day when the GC riders was content to roll in over 14 minutes behind…
The Progress Report
The 179km 10th stage of the 2010 Tour de France, from Chambery to Gap, began at 1.02pm. There were 181 riders at the sign on. The conditions were warm with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius at the start. The route included two intermediate sprints – in La Buissiere (at 19.5km) and La Fare-en-Champsaur (158.5km). It was an undulating stage but only three hills were categorized: the Laffrey climb (cat-1 at 77km), Terrasses (cat-3 at 98km), and col du Noyer (cat-2 at 145.5km).
Fast Start & A Fight To Establish Escape
Martin (THR) went on the attack as soon as the flag fell to signal the start and escape attempts kept on coming for the first hour. The right selection never seemed to make it clear as each move that went was promptly chased down. Some of the aggresssors were Lloyd (OLO), Vogondy (BTL), Oss (LIQ) and Roy (FDJ) – but nothing could gain any advantage until the 37km mark. Before then the three leaders of the points classification contested the sprint at 19.5km – with Petacchi leading Hushovd and McEwen over the line.
There were two crashes, one for Hunter (GRM) at 17km and the next involving Brookwalter (BMC) and Popovych (RSH).
At the 36km mark, Aerts (OLO), Devenyns (QST), Paulinho (RSH) and Kiryienka (GCE) escaped. It seemed this would be the selection as Saxo Bank and RadioShack moved to the front of the peloton and several riders from these teams chastised anyone who hinted at interest in a counter-attack. Rather vocal were Armstrong and Breschel while French riders in particular wanted to ignore the taunts and try to bridge the gap. Eventually, at 43km, Bouet (ALM) and Rolland (BTL) jumped ahead and began their pursuit. At the 66km mark the two chasers caught the four leaders; the peloton was at 8’45” and led by Saxo Bank.
Pineau Back Into Polka-Dots…
The only moment of aggression in the second hour was when Pineau challenged Charteau for seventh place points on the first climb. The Quickstep rider led the Bbox recruit over the line to reclaim the lead in the climbing classification. The average for the second hour was just 28.0km/h. Saxo Bank led the peloton once the escape was established and the pace was relatively tranquil in temperatures that reached over 40 degrees Celsius. The average for the third hour was 32.0km/h. The maximum gain for the six escapees was 11’25” at the 120km mark. Bouet was dropped briefly 1.5km from the top of the col du Noyer.
Moreau (GCE) attacked the peloton in the final 300m of the Noyer climb. He was marked by Popovych. They were 11’20” behind at the 145.5km mark and the peloton was at 11’45”.
Paulinho Earns A Stage Win For RadioShack
With 15.5km to go, Aerts attacked the lead group. He was chased down and then Devenyns launched off the front. His move didn’t last long before Kiryienka and Paulinho raced past him and into the lead. With 10km to go, Kiryienka and Paulinho led Aerts, Rolland and Devenyns by 45”. No Belorussian has ever won a stage of the Tour de France before but today the nation came close… within half a wheel of the victory, in fact. Kiryienka led Paulinho from 1.5km to go until 400m to go but then the Portuguese rider launched his sprint and although Kiryienka came back at him, he had no answer to the speed of the silver medalist from the Athens Olympics road race.
Although six men formed the escape group today, the former king of the mountains realized that points for the polka-dot jersey went down to eighth place – and so Jérôme Pineau sprinted up the road to grab what he needed to retrieve the spotted prize.
“Yesterday I was very disappointed because the work I did in the breakaway was all for nothing. I like this polka-dot jersey, I think it suits me well and so I wanted it back. It was enough of a sprint to get there.
“Initially, I wanted to try to be part of the the escape, but this was not the kind of stage start which allows me to put myself in the move. Then I was happy when I saw that there would still points to be distributed at the top of the Laffrey climb. At the top, both [Anthony] Charteau and I sprinted ahead but I was faster than him on this kind of climb. There’s no friends in the heat of competition but I have respect for him and that’s why we shook hands after the sprint…”
Some people are surprised by the cool, calm and casual mannerisms of the new leader of the Tour de France but Andy Schleck insists that there’s nothing for him to stress about… not just yet.
"It was quite an easy day even if it was fast at the beginning. It was a breakaway day so we took it kind of easy behind. Okay, there was a lot of wind so the team had to do some work all the way to Gap but it wasn’t too stressful. I had a little bit of time to enjoy my first day in the yellow jersey.
“I can tell you the first hour was really hard but after the breakaway was gone it was okay. I was quite nervous on the last downhill, it was a bit dangerous but for the rest of the day it was good.
“It was not a day for me to do anything. Even if it was quite up and down, there was nothing for me to achieve. I was lucky because I had bad legs from yesterday and so did all the others who actually rode really hard yesterday.
“There’s not really anything to stress about right now. I enjoy my yellow jersey, I enjoy having every one around… I enjoy the atmosphere in the team and having the guys working so well for me. Of course I’m happy and relaxed. I know there’s hard work coming up but that’s what I’ve been training for since the Tour ended in Paris last year.”
After achieving the first solo stage win for a Portuguese rider since the 1989 Tour de France, Sergio Paulinho admitted that it was a more important to him that his silver medal in the Olympic Games six years ago but his focus is still to help his team.
“In the last 10km, Mario Aerts was willing to try to attack. After he was caught, another Belgian attacked and when we got [Dries] Devenyns back, I decided to try as well. In the finale it was just between myself and Vasili Kiryienka…
“It was a close sprint but the most important thing is to win and so this moment, for me and my team, is a good one. I hope that in the coming days the team can achieve a few more victories.
“The team started with one objective and that is the general classification but also the team prize so for us the Caisse d’Epargne, Astana and Rabobank are the most important rivals and that’s why I put myself in the breakaway because there was a guy from the Caisse d’Epargne team. We’ll stay in the fight for the team GC.
“For me this victory is more important than the silver medal in the Olympic Games. This is the best race in the world and to win one stage in the Tour is the pinnacle of what a cyclist can achieve."
Cavendish has led the peloton to the line in Gap 14’19" behind Paulinho - this was the maximum deficit for the bunch...
As the sprint begins we can report that Pauriol has taken eighth place.
Roche will move up the GC rankings a little at the end of the stage. He is 7th in the 10th stage, 12’57" behind Paulinho.
Roche has decided to take back some time. He attacked in the final 10km and is going to take seventh place.
It would seem that Roche, who attacked the peloton with 10km to go, has been reeled in but now Pauriol is chasing a few extra seconds. He has attacked the peloton in the quest for seventh place in the stage.