Vasseur Wins Stage 10 of Tour
Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step) has scored the first French stage win of this year's Tour. The Quick Stepper, who wore the yellow jersey for five days in 1997, snared his second career Tour stage win by pipping countryman Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) and Italian Michal Albasini (Liquigas) in 5:20:24. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) remains the yellow jersey.
The stage was ridden in hot, clear weather. The stage started 14 minutes late because several team buses were delayed in traffic. When the racing began, however, it was fast and furious. After a series of abortive sallies, Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) attacked shortly into the second hour of racing at 50 km. Twenty-three km later, 10 other riders tried to bridge up to the German. At 81 km, the chasers caught the break, which was composed of Burghardt, Jens Voigt (CSC), Casar, Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole), Vasseur, Albasini, Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Alexander Kuschynski (Liquigas), and Andrei Grivko (Milram). With the Alps just behind the peloton, most of the sprinters' teams represented in the break, and Voigt the highest placed rider in the overall (36th at 24:39), the field would not chase.
And so it did not. The escapees' lead was 5:55 at 95 km, 6:45 at 100 km, and 14:00 at 127.5 km. At that point, Rabobank chased to peg the lead at 10:45.
On the day's next-to-last climb, the Category 3 Cote de Bastides, Voigt made the first move. His companions reeled him in, and Halgand countered. Casar and Albasini joined the Credit Agricole rider, and the trio reached the summit 0:08 ahead of Voigt, Burghardt, Scheirlinckx, and Vasseur.
On the descent, Voigt and Vasseur joined the leading trio. On the day's final climb, the Category 3 Col de la Gineste, Halgand attacked several times. With 17 km remaining, however, the quintet was together.
On the run into Marseille, Voigt attacked first, but the others reeled him in. Vasseur had a go, but Albasini towed the others to him. As the finish line neared, the five played cat and mouse. With 200 m left, Vasseur charged to the right, along the barriers, surprising his companions. Casar charged after the Quick Stepper but came up short by a tire width.
In the overall, Rasmussen leads Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) by 2:35 and Iban Mayo (Saunier Duval) by 2:39. Stage 11, a pancake-flat, 182.5-km run from Marseille to Montpellier, should end in a bunch sprint. Who will take it? Tom Boonen (Quick Step)? Erik Zabel (Milram)? Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!