Mark Cavendish claimed his third stage victory in the 108th Tour de France as he outsprinted Belgians Wout van Aert and Jasper Philipsen in Valence after an eventful finale. The peloton split in several occasions but it was another bunch gallop and Tadej Pogacar retained the Maillot Jaune ahead of the much anticipated double ascent of the Mont Ventoux.
Van der Sande and Houle at the front
164 riders took the start of stage 10 in Albertville. One non-starter: Jonas Koch (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert). Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) attacked at km 2. Hugo Houle (Astana) caught up with him. There was no reaction from the peloton. At km 17, a time gap of 6’05’’ was recorded, after which Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) tried to shake up the bunch but it was soon reorganised with Team DSM pulling at a steady tempo before Tim Declercq started to set the pace for Deceuninck-Quick Step. Houle took the only KOM point up for grabs at col de Couz, km 58.5. Van der Sande won the intermediate sprint at La Placette, km 82.3, where Mark Cavendish didn’t really try to defend his green jersey against the likes of Sonny Colbrelli, Michael Matthews and Jasper Philipsen who took the top spots behind the leading two riders.
All together with 36km to go
In the second half of the stage, the peloton kept the leading duo on a leash, at around about 1’30’’. Critérium du Dauphiné winner Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) crashed in the peloton at km 121 but made his way back to the pack after a bike exchange. As the bunch sped up, the time difference was only 28’’ with 45km to go but looking at the stormy weather ahead, the main group took it easy. Van der Sande sat up with 38km to go. 2km further, Houle got brought back as well after Team BikeExchange upped the tempo at the head of the peloton. Decuninck-Quick Step tried to create echelons within 30km to go but the conditions weren’t ideal for that despite the threat of a stormy weather. As the bunch slowed down, Colbrelli was able to come back after a flat tyre.
Deceuninck-Quick Step paves the way
More echelons were formed with 12km to go. But no sprinter or GC rider missed out on the first part. DSM tried to set up the sprint for Cees Bol but Deceuninck-Quick Step kept the situation under control and led the pack under the flamme rouge. Successively, Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini and Michael Morkov paved the way for Cavendish who fended off van Aert on his left and Philipsen on his right hand side to take one more stage victory, only one shy off Eddy Merckx’ record of 34 wins at the Tour de France.