• Rúben Silva

Tour de France Stage 10 Preview

Daryl Impey took a brilliant stage win in Brioude fruit of a successful breakaway he integrated early in the day. With him were riders like Benoot, Herrada, several other climbers and rouleurs, it was a 15-rider in the group that got over 15 minutes over the peloton in the end, there was a split of the group before the final climb and in it were Benoot and Impey, accompanied by Roche who was dropped after the climb. In the peloton it was a calm day, it was a slow pace all day long until the climb, Bardet made a move which was followed by Porte and Kruisjwijk but INEOS easily closed down the gap and the peloton slowly rolled to the line.

Positive: Mitchelton had a good win to their name, they need it and their chances of doing so won't come, it's the only real positive of the day.

Negative: Rui Costa that failed to bridge over to the breakaway, Bahrain was the only team with two riders in front but failed to capitalize on it, Bora failed to be in contention of the stage and didn't really play a role in a stage they could've had a big impact on. From the peloton nothing to note, CCC lost De Marchi due to a crash which further hampers their chances of a stage win.

The Route

Stage 10 is for the sprinters at first sight, but it won't be easy. The route in fact favours a breakaway a lot, only the long distance is a point to disadvantage, but the stage finishes over 600 meters below the start, the first section of the stage is quite hard which will allow the stronger rider to force their way to the front, and the roads are very rolling, it won't be an easy one to control, specially if a strong group is formed.

The finish in Albi, at least, is 100% sprinter ground, with a completely flat ans straightforward approach to the line.

The Weather

Coming from the north/northeast with quite some intensity the start will be very fast in Saint-Flour, it will come as a tailwind most of the day it will favour a breakaway very much in that start, even more with the rolling and favourably descending terrain. The run-up to Albi will have northwestern wind again with some wind which will be dangerous with some crosswinds affecting the riders, some echelons possibilities before a really fast approach to the line with tailwind.

The Favourites

It isn't as hard to tell at first as it would seem, the sprinters we know about them and most of them climb very well so I won't put that in doubt, but although it may not seem there are 3000 meters of climbing on this stage, a finish that's well below the starting height and a fairly strong favourable wind all day long. This is most races would be a flawless breakaway stage, why I put it in doubt is because of the bigger team size and above all quality of the teams, teams like Deceuninck/Bora/Jumbo have world-class engines completely at the disposal of their sprinters and that's what can bring a breakaway back.

On the sprinter's side there will also be the dynamics that the race has been having so far. In a lot of days, specially the ones designed for the sprinters, there's been a distinctive lack of riders willing to spend a day out in front, and tomorrow is by no means a short stage. There are lots of teams that don't really have the pressure or any responsability in the peloton like AG2R, Bahrain, CCC and Katusha that have rarely been sending riders to the break and those should with no doubt ride agressive tomorrow, it's pretty much their only chance to win a stage in the race (except ITT for Dennis), if they can ally to some of the PCT teams it could end up in something, if not then the sprinters will have it. As I'll mention those teams, riders like Cosnefroy/Gougeard, Mohoric, Schar/Wisniowski and Pollit/Wurtz can be riders to have a look on, specially as all of them have a tremendous quality but are still somewhat underated. Plus, it's a rest day aferwards, some riders can afford to go full deep into it.

As for the sprinters it's rinse and repeat. I'll have Sagan and Viviani as the main favourites for the day, it's not a technical finale that could put the leadout's advantages at stake, and it's a bit too much climbing for Groenewegen to be with his best legs, specially as I really do believe it will be a fast day. Ewan will keep trying, if his time will come is a hard question but he's been close multiple times, Lotto have been having a great Tour so far and are highly motivated, Ewan hasn't had his best climbing legs but he is no slouch so I think it's actually a well-suited day for him.

As for Matthews and Colbrelli in paper they should like the day but honestly they have been far from a win in a bunch sprint, very far. What could improve their chances would either be having a rider in the break or surprise the sprinters at some point of the stage with an unexpected team accelaration, which doesn't seem like a realistic scenario. Trentin the same but his support is logically not as big, and then from other sprinters it's a bit of a roulette.

Nizzolo is willing, his leadout isn't bad but he needs some luck to be in the fight, Greipel/Pasqualon/Boasson Hagen and specially Stuyven have recently been in breakaways so I don't know at what point they may be at their best, the Kristoff and Phillipsen duo is very interesting, I don't know how they'll cope with the hills but if they get their qualities dialed in they can bundle themselves in the finale, riders like Grev van Avermaet, Alberto Bettiol and Julien Simon can bundle in the lower Top10 if lucky.

Prediction Time

Viviani, Sagan

Groenewegen, Ewan

Phillipsen, Kristoff, Matthews, Colbrelli, Trentin, Pollit

The wins have been flying all around, my calls in a sprint stage have been having bad luck every single time. Yesterday I went with Sagan and Bora completely messed up their strategy, I see him as the rider that can't fail so I'm going with him tomorrow despite having a 50/50 feel in relation to a breakaway. The climbing will suit him and the finale has a small incline that can prove definitive for him.

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