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Cycling

Tour de France Men | Stage 10

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Today's top five

1. Mark Cavendish
2. Wout van Aert
3. Jasper Philipsen
4. Nacer Bouhanni
5. Michael Matthews
Tokyo 2020
'One of phenomenal Carapaz's biggest wins' - Wiggins reacts to road race
AN HOUR AGO
Such was the lead out from Michael Morkov that the Danish veteran picked up sixth place ahead of Andre Greipel and Peter Sagan - the two last winners in Valance. After all his trouble getting back on from a puncture, Sonny Colbrelli could only take 17th place.

That's 33 for Mark Cavendish!

An absolute textbook finish there from Mark Cavendish who repaid his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates with a third win of this race and a 33rd in total. The man in green takes the win ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix).

Final kilometre

BikeExchange and Arkea-Samsic join the party with Matthews and Bouhanni in tow as they go under the flag. But Cavendish still has three men in front of him: Asgreen, Ballerini and Morkov.

3km to go: QuickStep move up

The Deceuninck-QuickStep train is now in place with six riders - including the world champion Alaphilippe - pulling the green jersey of Cavendish along in formation. DSM have a couple of riders in the mix while Colbrelli is freelancing there ahead of a couple of Trek men. Van Aert, too, is in the hunt, while Alpecin-Fenix edge two up and that man Philipsen.

6km to go: Ineos and EF now

Ineos and EF take it up ahead of QuickStep - and that's because Pogacar appears to have dropped a bit back in the peloton. Earlier Richard Carapaz was burying himself - impressive for a climber to be trying to look to make a difference on the flat. We're entering the business end now and what should be a thrilling bunch gallop finale.

9km to go: AG2R-Citroen doing the pushing

Now it's Greg Van Avermaet and his AG2R teammates who are setting the tempo. A gruppetto looks to have given up all interest while Cees Bol is the big-name sprinter who is in the second group, with his DSM teammates trying to chase back on. The likes of Cavendish, Philipsen, Sagan, Matthews and Bouhanni appear to be here - as do all of the GC favourites. The rain has held off despite the grey clouds looming. Miguel Angel Lopez is off the back of the second group as the Colombian's first Tour for Movistar continues to go downhill...

13km to go: Pog rallies but splits still happening

The Slovenian was quick to close the gap before there was a regrouping of sorts. But continued pressure by Daniel Oss of Bora-Hansgrohe - plus some pulls from QuickStep, EF Education-Nippo, Ineos and Groupama-FDJ - have seen the peloton string out and split into different groups. We have at least three groups on the road now...

16km to go: Splits! Pogacar caught out!

And that happened in a matter of seconds... Vingegaard and Van Aert were alert to the danger as Bora-Hansgrohe put two men on the front, as were Cavendish and his QuickStep colleagues. All of a sudden there was a split with the yellow jersey on the wrong side... The gap is small but it's an intriguing one...

18km to go: Pogacar on the front and alert to danger

The yellow jersey is in second wheel as he bids to make sure he doesn't miss out on anything here. AG2R-Citroen are also in the mix as they look to protect Ben O'Connor's second place. It's that curious and dangerous mix of GC and sprinter teams looking for a slice of the pie - and in the case of Jumbo-Visma, it's both: they have Van Aert with Vingegaard right on the front.

24km to go: Pace knocked off

It looks like Sonny Colbrelli is in luck... he was 40 seconds off the back but the pace has eased after QuickStep took a step back. This will allow the Italian champion to get back on but at what cost? He will have used up a bit of his energy reserves after those frantic five minutes.

28km to go: Colbrelli punctures!

Disaster for the Italian champion who has a rear flat tyre at the worst possible moment... He has to drop off the back while waiting for his Bahrain-Victorious car and he will now face a huge battle to get back on in time to compete for that elusive stage win and those all-important green jersey points.

29km to go: Deceuninck-QuickStep go big guns

Following a roundabout the entire QuickStep team come to the front and - dictated by the world champion Julian Alaphilippe - go hell for leather. This really stretches out the peloton and causes some real havoc as they hit an exposed section of roads buffeted by these winds.

33km to go: Tense and cagey

With Houle caught and the climb done, the peloton has bunched up again with all the big guns - including Cavendish and Pogacar, in green and yellow - near the front. There's a cross tailwind and so the torch could be lit. This has created some real tension in the pack.

36km to go: BikeExchange setting the tempo

It's the BikeExchange teammates of Michael Matthews who have taken the bull by the horns on this climb in a bid to put some pressure on Cavendish and some of the other sprinters. The green jersey has dropped back a bit but he's still in the peloton and has a QuickStep teammate with him. Houle, the last man standing, meanwhile, has been caught - just as Ineos Grenadiers come to the front as well as UAE. "The kettle is boiling and it's just getting hotter and hotter," says Sean Kelly.

40km to go: Houle goes solo

Canada's Hugo Houle has dropped Tosh Van der Sande as the road starts to head uphill on that uncategorised climb before the fast run into the finish. And it's a matter of minutes and a couple of kilometres before the Belgian is caught by the peloton, which has already shed out a couple of riders - including Bruno Armirail and Victor Campenaerts.

45km to go: Sagan & Greipel previous winners in Valance

German veteran Andre Greipel won in Valence in Stage 15 of the 2015 Tour while Peter Sagan was the last winner here in Stage 13 of the 2018 Tour. It would be a surprise to see either of these riders to get back on top today because they have been somewhere short of their best this summer - with Cavendish very much the man to beat.
There's also Wout van Aert to consider - who should be free from domestique duties - as well as Cees Bol of Team DSM, Michael Matthews and Sonny Colbrelli - who is still yet to win a stage of a Grand Tour. Plus the riders I mentioned a few comments ago. The gap, meanwhile, is still just under the one-minute mark.

52km to go: Calm before the storm

Everyone involved in that spill is now back in the pack who have that two-man move on a tight leash of just the single minute. Bora-Hansgrohe and EF Education-Nippo have brought themselves to the front ahead of this climb and there appears to be quite a nervous battle for placings. What's more, it looks like the heavens could well open soon - plus we're hearing that there's a strong headwind at the finish in Valence...

67km to go: Crash! Ineos and Jumbo involved...

These two teams can't catch a break, eh? Some road furniture is to blame and it's held up a host of Ineos Grenadiers riders with Richie Porte and Luke Rowe appearing to go down. Geraint Thomas may also have been involved because he's hanging around. For Jumbo-Visma it was Mike Teunissen who went down, with Wout van Aert, the Belgian champion, held up as well.
Tao Geoghegan Hart and Michal Kwiatkowski were involved - or held back - but it seems like Richi Carapaz avoided the trouble. The Ecuadorian is their man man for GC following Thomas's travails in the opening week following his crash in stage 3.

70km to go: Who will win today?

Mark Cavendish is the obvious bet: he's on form, has the belief, and the strongest team; what's more, that climb comes over 30km out and so it shouldn't be too integral in the outcome. If he's dropped off at the right place, then Cavendish must be the favourite to make it three - with a 33rd win of his Tour career.
Another safe bet is the Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni who has shown his best ever Tour performances to date this year with third and then second-place finishes in the opening week. He's pretty much always been in the mix when push comes to shove.
Ah, we'll come back to this because there's been something of a development in the pack...

80km to go: Houle says 'take it easy'

We just overheard Hugo Houle tell Tosh Van der Sande: "We take it easy now and then, 30 to 40 to go, we go hard." So, that's the plan for our two leaders - provided they're still out ahead of the peloton then. The gap is now 1'45" as Peter Sagan - off the boil since his crash with Caleb Ewan in stage 4 - takes a swig of Coke near the front of the pack. He may be one to watch today especially with the climb near the finish.

90km to go: Cavendish rejoins the peloton

Just as Eurosport go live to Bradley Wiggins on the back of a motorcycle, Mark Cavendish rejoins the back of the peloton - giving his old teammate a wave as he passes. It's going to be a fascinating duel now for the finish - and DSM and Arkea have sent a man onto the front each to help Declercq, who has been reinstated by QuickStep into his role of reeling in the breakaway.

96km to go: Focus shifts to crosswinds

The terrain has a few lumps and bumps but it's a largely flat ride not to the foot of the final climb which could act as a launchpad for today's winner - or winning team. There could be some winds on this section and so that's something to keep out eyes on. For now, it's still Houle and Van der Sande out ahead with a gap of 1'55" on the pack, which is still not yet back together after splitting up a little towards the intermediate sprint. It's Deceuninck-QuickStep's Dries Devenyns who is on the front now ahead of the Jumbo train.

106km to go: Game on for green

Van der Sande pips Houle in the intermediate sprint at La Placette but all the interest comes around two minutes later when Mark Cavendish is dropped on the climb ahead of the sprint. In his absence, teammate Davide Ballerini attempts to mop up points for third place but he's no match for the Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli who powers through to take the 15pts for third place ahead of Michael Matthews (15pts) and Peter Sagan.
That means Cavendish's lead in the green jersey classification has been reduced to 25pts on Matthews and 32pts on Colbrelli. It's certainly shaping up to be a thrilling competition here - and the pressure is now on Cav to win a third stage in Valance this afternoon so he can take back the initiative.

110km to go: Small crash in the pack

There's a touch of wheels in the middle of the peloton and Mads Pedersen (Trek Segafredo) hits the deck with Julien Simon (TotalEnergies) while Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) also comes to a halt, but avoids going down. Another setback for the former world champion, Pedersen, who seems to be involved in all these little spats. Nerves are definitely on edge now with the intermediate sprint approaching.
To make matters worse for Pedersen, his bike was dragged along the road by teammate Bauke Mollema after it got tangled up in the Dutchman's steed...

118km to go: Plateau before La Placette

The next flashpoint of today's stage will be the intermediate sprint at La Placette which comes in about 15km. It's at the top of a small uncategorised climb and so it could suits the likes of Matthews and Colbrelli more than the current green incumbent, Mark Cavendish. There's also the curveball of the weather to consider: the sun that shone down on the peloton at the start has disappeared and it's now overcast with a threat of rain.

132km to go: Houle takes KOM point

The Canadian leads his Belgian colleague over the summit of the Cat.4 Col de Couz (7.5km at a gentle 2.8%) to pocket the solitary point in the polka dot jersey classification. Nairo Quintana won't be trembling at all. Houle's only pro win came in the 2015 Canadian national ITT championships. It's fair to say it's very difficult to see that changing today. The peloton come over as one at 3'35".

142km to go: Approaching the first climb

The peloton is all strung out and we have a small split towards the back as the tempo rises ahead of the first and only categorised climb of the day. Houle and Van der Sande are deep in conversation as their lead drops to 3'45" as DSM, Deceuninck and Jumbo combine on the front of the pack. Meanwhile, a host of Arkea-Samsic riders have stopped because their sprinter Nacer Bouhanni picks up a mechanical issue and needs to switch bikes.

150km to go: Jumbo-Visma show their hand

Five of the remaining six Jumbo-Visma riders come to the front of the pack, tucking their train just in behind Declercq and one DSM rider - Britain's Mark Donovan, I think. With Primoz Roglic gone home now, the team's outlook has changed - and while they will be hoping for a high finish for debutant Vingegaard, they will also, you'd think, unleash Wout Van Aert on the bunch sprints. The Belgian champion flirted with the yellow jersey in the opening week but wasn't given the green light to contest the sprints. That should now change. Gap down to 4'25" for the two leaders.

160km to go: Declercq to the fore

Tim Declercq has now come to the front for Deceuninck-QuickStep to help keep a lid on this two-man move. He has some help from a couple of Team DSM riders who will hope to pave the way for their Dutch sprinter Cees Bol. The gap comes down a touch to 5'10" accordingly.
Earlier, we had our man Bradley Wiggins - whose back on a motorbike this week - mention that he spotted Mark Cavendish off the back sorting out an issue with his saddle. The Manx Missile has a track record of doing this in the lead-up to his myriad sprint wins - perhaps it's reached a point where he does it as some kind of superstition? Anyway, here's the first "Brad on a Bike" segment from this year's Tour...

Jersey round-up

Yellow: Tadej Pogacar
The Slovenian holds a 2'01" advantage over Ben O'Connor, with Rigo Uran third at 5'18", Jonas Vingegaard fourth at 5'32", Richard Carapaz fifth at 5'33", Enric Mas sixth at 5'47", Wilco Kelderman seventh at 5'58", Alexey Lutsenko eighth at 6'12", Guillaume Martin ninth at 7'02" and David Gaudu tenth at 7'22".
Green: Mark Cavendish
The Manx veteran leads with 168 points but Michael Matthews (130pts) and Sonny Colbrelli (121pts) are back in the frame after a busy weekend in the Alps while Cav battled the time-cut. Jasper Philipsen is back in fourth at 102pts but will now be Alpecin-Fenix's focal point in the sprints given the withdrawals of Mathieu van der Poel and Tim Merlier (albeit with a diminished lead-out).
Polka dot: Nairo Quintana
The Colombian blew up on the final climb to Tignes on Sunday but he leads the climbers' classification on 50pts with Michael Woods on 42pts, Wout Poels on 39pts, Ben O'Connor on 24pts and Sergio Higuita on 22pts.
White jersey: Tadej Pogacar
The Slovenian has led this from day one although it's Jonas Vingegaard who wears the white jersey by dint of his rival's yellow. The young Dane is riding a superb maiden Tour and now leads Jumbo-Visma following the withdrawal of a bashed-up Primoz Roglic.

170km to go: 'It's like a Sunday club ride'

So says Brian Smith as the gap extends above the five-minute mark for our two leaders, Van der Sande and Houle. UAE Team Emirates and Ineos Grenadiers have men on the front - as you'd expect seeing that Tadej Pogacar and Richard Carapaz are likely to emerge as the stand-out riders of the next two weeks.

180km to go: Almost three minutes for duo

Houle and Van der Sande see their advantage rise to 2'45" after 10 minutes of combining together ahead of the pack on this long, flat, straight road that runs out of Albertville alongside the Isere river. Back in the pack, the moto cameras are zooming in on riders soft-pedalling and shooting the breeze. This one is more piano piano than an afternoon with Ludovico Einaudi at the Conservatorio Verdi in Milan.

190km to go: Two go clear

Belgium's Tosh Van der Sande makes the first move - no surprise to see Lotto Soudal get a rider in the break given the departure of their sprinter and raison d'etre Caleb Ewan early in the opening week. He's soon joined by Canada's Hugo Houle (Astana-PremierTech) to make it two in the break - a break which the peloton is showing zero interest in reeling in.

190.5km to go: Stage 10 under way!

Christian Prudhomme waves his flag... and the riders do absolutely nothing. Slow start to today's resumption of racing, with Belgian tractor Tim Declercq rooted to the front in his breakaway-killer role for Deceuninck-QuickStep, snuffing out a few half-hearted early digs.

Riders readying themselves in neutral zone ahead of Stage 10

The sun is out, their legs are rested, and the remaining 164 riders are rolling through the neutral zone ahead of the official start to today's stage. It's a real mixed bag on the menu with some climbs, a bit of breakaway terrain, but also a potential bunch sprint finish on the cards. It's also quite windy - the fabled Mistral - which could play a role today with chances of some echelons along the 190.5km ride.
Just the one non-starter today: Germany's Jonas Koch of Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert. And here's the profile of today's stage - which could just as well result in a third win for Mark Cavendish as for a plucky escapee or even one of the other remaining sprinters such as Nacer Bouhanni, Wout van Aert, Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews, Jasper Philipsen or Sonny Colbrelli...
https://i.eurosport.com/2021/07/06/3168223.jpg

Some rest day thoughts...

A more bombastic opening nine days to a Tour de France you will struggle to find – with tears, emotion, comebacks, drama, surprise and setbacks aplenty. But with Tadej Pogacar now sitting pretty in yellow, could this turbo-charged race run out of gas? Felix Lowe on how the best opening week of a Tour threatens to segue into the most boring two weeks in the race’s recent history...
Some six minutes after Ben O’Connor propelled himself up the general classification with his marvellous solo victory in Tignes, the imperious – “unreachable,” in the word of Sean Kelly – Tadej Pogacar rolled over the finish line of Stage 9 to extend his lead, once again, over all his major rivals ahead of the rest day.
“At the end of one of the most intriguing, fascinating and entertaining first weeks of a Tour de France you are ever likely to see, Tadej Pogacar is the undisputed leader.” So said Eurosport’s Rob Hatch on the comms as the yellow jersey cemented his position after an opening phase he has pretty much ridden flawlessly – avoiding all obstacles in his wake while his rivals have succumbed to a litany of setbacks, from crashes to crises in self-confidence and the brick wall that is Pogacar himself.
Where last year Pogacar only overturned his 57-second deficit to countryman Primoz Roglic on the penultimate day of the Tour, this time round Pogacar took yellow on the second Saturday of the race with 13 stages remaining, prompting that man Roglic to pack his bags and call it a day.
The fact that Pogacar’s nearest rival now is the Australian O’Connor, whose solo win saw him rise to second place at 2’01”, just underlines how hollow the GC battle could now become – and that’s by no means any disrespect to the Ag2R-Citroen Tour debutant, whose highest Grand Tour finish to date, lest we forget, is 20th in last year’s Giro. Read on by clicking the link below:

Tour de France week one: On-board camera highlights and behind-the-scenes action

Stage 9 re-cap

O’Connor seizes Stage 9 win, Pogacar retains yellow jersey ahead of rest day - written by Nick Christian
AG2R Citroen's Ben O'Connor won Stage 9 of the Tour de France after an impressive ride through the Alps, but hopes of an unlikely yellow jersey going into the first rest day were dashed as race leader Tadej Pogacar continued to impress.
"So was it a normal day at the Tour de France," as Sean Kelly suggested it was shaping up to be early on in Sunday’s stage? If your reference point is the Tour we’ve been watching for the past nine days then, yes, you could probably call it normal.
If, however, you still think we should contextualise events within our experience of the last decade or more of racing then no, it was decidedly not a "normal" day at the office.
The case for normal might include the fact that we had a breakaway winner, battles for points and polka dots, and a largely neutralised GC battle. We’ve seen those things many times before, haven’t we? The case against should present as evidence a debutant stage winner in Ben O'Connor who gained six minutes in the general classification, who had spells in the virtual lead and leapt from thirteenth to second overall, and is an Australian who beat two Colombians at altitude in some of the grimmest weather we’ve seen in years.
Then there’s race leader Tadej Pogacar who, after soloing into yellow in Saturday, still had enough in his legs to casually put another thirty seconds into his so-called rivals. We should also mention that a rider nominally known as a sprinter - Sonny Colbrelli - finished third atop the highest mountain at this year’s race. Call it a wash? There are certainly a lot of riders who could do with one.

Highlights as O'Connor takes Stage 9 victory on wet and windy day in the Alps

‘It’s been savage’ – Wiggins on ‘brutal’ first week at Tour

Bradley Wiggins says the first rest day is overdue at the Tour de France after a “savage” and “brutal” opening week.
The race has thrown up an extraordinary amount of incidents including huge crashes, high-profile abandonments, and a one-man GC show from Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck–QuickStep) has also won two stages on his return to the Tour – moving him within two of the all-time record, a milestone he is reluctant to acknowledge – while the mountains created extra drama over the weekend.
Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen) produced a statement ride to win Stage 9 by over five minutes and move second in the general classification, while Pogacar rode away from his main rivals to strengthen his hold on yellow.
The latest episode of The Bradley Wiggins Show saw the 2012 Tour champion reflect on a hectic opening week.
“I think everyone needs a rest. It feels like we’ve done three weeks of the Tour, it’s been savage,” said Wiggins.
“I don’t remember a Tour like it for a long time. It’s been a brutal Tour de France.”
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