Kittel Wins Stage 10 of Tour de France
The hostilities began early. At 1.5 km, Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), and Julien Simon (Sojasun) sallied off of the front. At nine km, the quintet led the field by 3:30. Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and Argos-Shimano went to the front to peg the escapees’ lead, which maxed out at 5:05 at 32 km.
The bunch gradually reduced the break’s advantage. With 55 km left, the fugitives breasted the day’s only categorized climb, the Category 4 Cote de Denain, with a two-and-a-half-minute lead on the peloton.
With 27 km remaining, less than a minute separated the bunch from the break. Oroz attacked his companions, who reeled him in one km later. With 20 km to go and a change in wind direction in the offing, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff, Sky, Movistar, BMC, RadioShack-Leopard, and Belkin moved up to the front to keep their leaders out of trouble and on the right side of a split in the peloton.
Two km later, Westra dropped back to the bunch. With 17 km left, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) and Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge) crashed. In a different mishap, Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) crashed at a roundabout. All three riders remounted and returned to the peloton.
The field reeled in Oroz, Mate, Cousin, and Simon with six km left. Three km later, Lotto-Belisol and Argos-Shimano took over at the front. With 200 m remaining, Cavendish and Tom Veelers, a member of Argos-Shimano’s sprint train, bumped, and the Dutchman crashed. No one else went down, but other sprinters had to swerve to avoid hitting him. Greipel bolted into the lead, but Kittel passed his compatriot for the win.
Kittel was happy for his victory, but concern about his teammate Veelers tempered his joy. “I am thrilled that I won this stage today,” he said, “but when I crossed the finish line I was also very worried about my teammate Tom Veelers. Luckily he is okay, so now I can really enjoy this victory.
“This was a very good win for the team after amazing and strong teamwork. The guys worked very hard throughout the whole day to keep me in front and out of the wind. When the finale started, we were really well positioned as a team. These finishes are very hectic and chaotic, so it is really impressive work that the guys did. In the end I didn’t have to waste any energy and was able to start my sprint fresh.”
The race jury examined video of the finish and determined that neither Cavendish nor Veelers was at fault in the collision, so no one was relegated.
In the overall, Froome leads Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) by 1:25 and Bauke Mollema (Belkin) by 1:44. Stage 11 could shake up the standings. The flat, 33-km individual time trial from Avranches to Mont Saint-Michel will give the better time trialists, such as Froome and Cadel Evans (BMC), a chance to take time out of their rivals. Wind will dominate the stage. Who will win? Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Froome? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Follow Roadcycling.com on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to stay up to date with our full Tour de France coverage. Buy road and mountain bikes, framesets, apparel, bike components and more in our RoadCycling.com road bike shop . Help us spread the word about RoadCycling.com by linking to us from your Web site or blog.