We expected a day of transition after a grueling first week, which ended with a dantesque Sunday in the Alps. The tenth stage of the Tour de France, this Tuesday, July 6, between Albertville (Savoie) and Valence (Drôme), did not dampen these hopes.
The peloton, relieved of twenty riders from Brest, took advantage of the day’s program – 190.7 kilometers of flat with only one difficulty listed, the Col de Couz (category 4), and an intermediate sprint at kilometer 82 – to recover in the saddle before the double ascent of Mont Ventoux (Vaucluse), Wednesday.
But after the rain of the first few days, the wind came… And the Deceunink-Quick Step, which has an incomparable reading of the terrain, replayed its famous stroke from the edge 15 kilometers from the line. A “wolfpack” – as the riders of the Belgian team like to call themselves – launched at full speed until the third victory of the Briton Mark Cavendish on this 108e Big loop. Thirty-three stage wins in total, more than one before equaling Eddy Merckx’s record. The first words of the winner of the day will also be for his teammates: “My team did it all. “
The rhythm of the “tractor” Tim Declercq
The formation of Patrick Lefevere, in majesty since the big start, had already left its mark on this day well before the massive sprint. The Canadian Hugo Houle (Astana-Premier Tech) and the Belgian Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) did a good part of the race alone in the lead… But always under the control of a peloton eager to keep them in contact and subjected to the rhythm of the “tractor” Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step).
Elie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic) also worked for his teammate Nacer Bouhanni, eager to cross the line first after his places of honor the previous week – third in Pontivy (Morbihan), second in Fougères (Ille-et-) Vilaine) and sixth at Châteauroux (Indre)… Without success: the Vosges came fourth on Tuesday.
The advance of the two breakaways melted like snow in the sun just over 40 kilometers from the finish in Valence. Tosh Van der Sande surrendered first, then it was Hugo Houle’s turn to be swallowed by the pack. At 27 kilometers, the acceleration of the Deceuninck under the pedal of Julian Alaphilippe puts everyone in single file. The Belgian team is trying to cause breaks and corner sprinters. The Italian Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) dies when the formation of Mark Cavendish puts the foot to the ground. The “wolfpack” does not slow down.
The “ploc” of uncorked beers
The Italian sprinter – who had shown a little earlier his desire to take the green jersey off the shoulders of the British sprinter – was only 15 small points after the intermediate sprint of the day. He finished 17e of this tenth stage and is now 82 points behind in the race for green.
There is already no more suspense in this Tour? Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) flies over the Tour and Briton Mark Cavendish crushes the sprints. With the impression that all the teams, next to the Flemish, are blocked trumpets from which no sound comes out. A formation which does not make noise, except the “ploc” of the beers uncorked in the evening by its management to celebrate the sprinter, yesterday good for the breakage.
Tomorrow, return to the mountains for the peloton: 200 kilometers on the menu between Sorgues and Malaucène (Vaucluse), and above all, a double ascent of Mont Ventoux.
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