Wednesday July 11th, 2012

Stage 10Mâcon / Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

Start 12h25 GMT 2+

Voeckler: once, twice... three times a treat!

Stage summary11.07.2012Stage 10- Mâcon / Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

© A.S.O.

Thomas Voeckler knows how to get the maximum out of himself at the Tour de France. He's out of contention for another stint in the yellow jersey or a top four overall finish in the race like he achieved in 2011 but on the day to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine he did enough to earn three appearances on the podium. First, he led over the first 'hors categorie' climb of the 99th Tour - the Col du Grand Colombier to take the lead of the climbing classification, then he was voted the most aggressive rider of the 10th stage and, ultimately, he timed his race to the finish line to perfection. He won the stage from a break that took almost an hour to establish on a day when the average speed or the first hour was a formidable 49.8km/h. There were 25 men in that move and, by the end, only 10 of them would finish ahead of the yellow jersey's group. The best was Voeckler. He is a racer who puts on a show. The French adore him, and he duly respond to their cheers. It was his third stage win in the race.
For all the action, the first stage in the high mountains yielded little change to the top 10. Okay, Vincenzo Nibali demonstrated that he's willing to try attacking when he can and the downhill after the Grand Colombier served him well but it was too far from the finish for real gains to be made. He had to succumb to the strength of the Sky team which again did everything required to get their leader one day closer to the ultimate objective: victory in the 2012 Tour.

The progress report
The 194.5km 10th stage, from Mâcon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, began at 12.25pm with 175 riders at the sign on. The three non-starters were Tony Martin (OPQ), Matt Lloyd (LAM) and Remy Di Gregorio (COF). On the menu after the first rest day were three categorised climbs – the côte de Corlier (cat-2 at 90km), the first ‘HC' climb of the 99th Tour – the col du Grand Colombier (reaching 1,501m at 151.5km) and the col de Richemond (cat-3 at 174km). The intermediate sprint was in Béon at 130.5km. The conditions were fine with a temperature in the mid-20s at the start of the stage.

Fast start: Sagan in an escape
As soon as the flag fell to signal the start of the stage, there was an attack by a Vacansoleil rider but it didn't last long. At 2km, Sagan (LIQ) instigated the first successful escape. The rider wearing the green jersey was joined by Grivko (AST) and Lemoine (SAU) and they reached a maximum gain of 20” (at 19km) but the Frenchman quit his effort at the 26km mark and returned to the peloton. There were numerous riders springing off the front of the bunch for 30km but none of the counter-attacks yielded gains of any more than 10”. At 32km, the two leaders were caught by a group of 23 – included in this counter-attack were: Burghardt, Cummings, Popovych, Voigt, Voeckler, Arashiro, Martinez, Millar, Zabriskie, Peraud, Jeandesboz, Horrach, Casar, Hutarovich, Ladagnous, Sanchez (RAB), Kroon, Morkov, Fofonov, Devenyns, Gerrans and Goss. By the 50km, the 25 escapees were 4'30” ahead of the peloton. The average speed for the opening hour was 49.8km/h! (Of the stage leaders, 11 have previously won a stage of the Tour.) At 80km, the peloton was 7'00” behind the 25 riders. The points for the first climb were won by: Morkov, Grivko, Voigt and Voeckler. The average speed for the second hour was 39.6km/h. The maximum gain of the escape was 7'10” at the 120km mark.
With 70km to go, Lotto-Belisol put five riders at the front of the peloton. By the time they reached the site of the intermediate sprint, the bunch was 6'20” behind the escape. Goss beat Hutarovich and Sagan at the intermediate sprint but the riders in first and second were the first to be dropped when the escape hit the early slopes of the second climb.

Col du Grand Colombier
Voeckler and Arashiro led escape on the early part of the Grand Colombier. The peloton reached the foot of this climb with a deficit of 6'00”. Hansen (LTB) surged at the front and Evans (BMC) was right on his wheel but this moved lasted about 100m before Sky sent its troops forward again. The yellow jersey had four team-mates with him for the first 9km of the 17.4km ascent: Boasson Hagen, Porte, Rogers and Froome. With 6km to climb, Boasson Hagen's turn was over; van den Broeck (LTB) attacked a couple of times but never really gained any advantage. Voeckler took first place points (25) and the lead of the climbing classification at the top. He was five seconds ahead of Scarponi, Sanchez and Devenyns. The next group – Scarponi, Voigt, Casar and Fovonov was at 1'08”. The yellow jersey's group had four Sky riders at the front at the top 5'30” behind. There were about 25 riders in this group at the top of the first HC climb of the 2012 Tour.

Attacking the descent
Nibali attacked early on the descent and the yellow jersey was put under more pressure going downhill than he was going up. Evans also did a turn of pace that prompted Sky to chase. Rogers almost overshot a sharp right turn and then had to wait for the team car after having mechanical trouble. Nibali did a second surge and joined forces with Sagan and together the pair gained a lead over Wiggins of 55” by the time they reached the valley. The four leaders were 1'05” ahead of the five chasers with 25km to go; Nibali was at 3'15” and the yellow jersey's group was at 3'55”. Nibali rode with Grivko briefly and then climbed the final 3km of the Richemond ascent on his own before being caught by the Sky-led peloton with about 2km to climb. By then Voeckler's quartet was 3'05” ahead. In the final kilometre of the final climb, Rolland attacked the yellow jersey group and was chased down by van den Broeck. With 15km to go in the stage, Rolland and VDB were 2'50” behind the four stage leaders; the yellow jersey's group was at 3'30”.

Voeckler victorious in animated stage that changed nothing in the top five of GC
With 10km to Voigt was just 10” behind the four stage leaders; at 9km there were five stage leaders and with 8.5km to go Voigt started the attacking action but his time in the lead didn't last long before there were five in the front again. Devenyns was urged by Sanchez to do a turn inside the final 3km but he shook his head “no” and, only 500 metres later, he went on the attack. He opened up a good lead on the others but Voigt wasn't going to let him walk away with a stage win. He led the pursuit only to be joined by Voeckler and this pair worked hard to chase down Devenyns. With 1.5km to go, Devenyns cracked and Voeckler was in the lead at the right time. With the line in sight he refused to slow down while the others were plagued with fatigue and could no longer chase him down. Scarponi was got to within three seconds of the Frenchman but by then he was over the line and celebrating his third stage win in the Tour de France (after Perpignan in 2009 and Luchon in 2010).
For all the attacks between the Grand Colombier and the finish, all the riders in the top five of GC finished together. Evans put on a show to try and led the yellow jersey's group home but he as pipped on the line by Pinot, 3'16” behind Voeckler. Wiggins finished the stage in 13th place and will keep the yellow jersey for at last another day.

Stage 10 Mâcon / Mâcon

All about the stage key moments

Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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