Crosswinds played a major part in stage 10 of the Tour de France, in what turned out to be an enthralling sprint race after a fairly quiet start. The winds initiated some big splits in the peloton and the race burst into life.
Earlier in the day, Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Ineos set the pace, ejecting a small group of riders from the rear of the peloton. Then came the change in tempo and the race went up a level as teams Ineos and Deceuninck-Quick Step began to cause damage, with Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos) and yellow jersey wearer Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step)contributing to a pack of General Classification contenders,led by the previously on-form Thibaut Pinot from Groupama-FDJ.
There was an exciting chase for a while between the lead group and the followers and at one point the gap was closed to within eyeshot for the stragglers, with around a 10-second gap to close. But as the race went on, the leaders increased their lead further and became unattainable at the front. The Pinot group crossed the finish line 1-40 behind the peloton in a thrilling climax which would have left the field of riders with contrasting emotions from elation to devastation.
The winner of stage 10 was rising Belgian rider, Wourt Van Aert, who is competing in his maiden tour. The team Jumbo-Visma rider went early from the line, showing great strength and guile beyond his young years to hold off the opposition and hang on to win by a hair’s breadth in a photo-finish after a late surge from Elia Viviani who was unlucky to miss out on victory himself. Van Aert previously won the young rider classification white jersey in stage 8 and no doubt, will be ecstatic with a stage win in his first season at WorldTour level.
In contrast to Van Aert’s fortunes, high-flying Pinot was one of the biggest casualties of stage 10. Pinot went into the stage sitting third overall but has fallen out of contention, dropping to 11th in the standings, two minutes 33 seconds behind leader, Alaphilippe. Other potential contenders have also fallen away after the thrilling action of stage 10. Rigoberto Uran of team EF Education First is now on + 3’ 18”, while winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Jakob Fugslang (Astana) also suffered a setback, dropping to + 3’ 22”.
The Frenchman will be delighted to have strengthened his grip on the yellow jersey further. However, Team Ineos are hot on Alaphillipe’s heels, with Egan Bernal in second-place + 1’ 12”, while Geraint Thomas is four seconds behind his teammate in third-place. Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijkclimbs to fourth overall to become the team’s outright General Classification contender after his teammate George Bennett was caught out in the trailing pack. With the race reaching the halfway point, any of these riders can all still realistically hope to attain the yellow jersey and make history in the cycling world.
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