97th Tour de France
Stage 10 – Chambery to Gap – 179.0 km (111.0 mi)
14 July 2010
It was Bastille Day in France, marking the date in 1789 when the masses rose up and declared their independence from tyranny at the hands of an unjust monarch. And for the 33 Frenchmen still in the peloton at the Tour de France by this midpoint juncture, their entire childhood and professional career has been spent dreaming of a stage win on the national holiday. Fifteen French riders had walked away with the spoils on July 14 since the end of World War II. However, no domestic rider since David Moncoutie in 2005 has succeeded in pulling it off; and with a now-35-year-old Moncoutie not included among the nine riders selected by Cofidis this year, none of the 33 still in the race had ever won a July 14 stage in their career.
Alas, it was not to be today, either. A time-tested formula took hold — after several punishing days in the mountains, the leaders usually conspire to allow a breakaway of riders far behind in time to take a significant chunk of time; then all that’s left is to sit back, make sure they challenge nobody’s position among the contenders and relax (as much as somebody can while sitting on a small-as-can-be saddle for over a hundred miles of riding) and recuperate from the previous harder efforts. The early intermediate sprint point in the stage kept things together until La Buissiere about 20km down the road from the start in Chambery, as the green jersey contenders lusted after one fleeting chance to get the legs churning before another day spent huffing and puffing their way up the high mountains got underway. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), already the winner of two stages this year, took the line and the six points ahead of Thor Hushovd and Robbie McEwen, cutting his deficit in the points competition to just seven as the race nears its departure into the transitional stages (and more sprint opportunities) before the Pyrenees loom.
But once La Buissiere was in the rear-view mirrors of the broom wagon at the end of the procession, the lead group started to formulate. Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) initiated the move at about 36km into the stage, quickly joined by Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) and Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne) to form a breakaway quartet. Two French riders, Maxime Bouet (AG2R) and Pierre Rolland (Bbox-Bouygues Telecom) had missed the break and shot out of the main field hoping to integrate. Just before the base of the Cat. 1 Cote de Laffrey, following a 20km two-man time trial, Bouet and Rolland reached the leading four and bulked up the leading group to an even half-dozen with some French representation.
By the summit of the day’s main climb, the sextet had eight and a half minutes of advantage on the main field. It was clear that neither Schleck’s Saxo Bank squad nor Contador’s Astana team was threatened by anyone in the group — Aerts, the top-ranked rider amongst the breakaways, was 33 minutes behind Schleck at the start of the day. It was all about maintaining the gap rather than reeling it in. And so Aerts and company were all able to dream about a stage win, though a day in yellow was beyond the reach of any of these men. Bouet and Rolland had the added incentive of becoming the next great French rider to steal Bastille Day back at Le Tour, but every man was craving the same thrill of victory in Gap.
As the race settled into its all-too-predictable stupor, the mind began to drift as another workday loomed on the horizon. My phone buzzed me back out of the daze as fellow Sports Nickel writer Dan Vachalek sent me a text message while watching Stage 10. It was a two-part question about what happens with all the trash that riders are throwing along the roadside.
First, what are the riders consuming along the stage? In a mountain stage like the riders endured the past couple days, as many as 10,000 calories can be burned over the course of the day’s run. Even in a medium-mountain stage like today, as they coasted back out of the Alps through the south to Gap, riders were needing plenty of fuel to keep them going over the 179 kilometers on offer. In the feed zone at Pierre-Chatel, about halfway through the stage, what precisely was in those musettes — the bags that are handed out as riders burst pass with arms extended at speeds reaching thirty miles an hour?
You want fuel that’s going to digest quickly and be transferred to usefulness. So riders are consuming everything from energy bars and energy gels to fruit bars and pastries, small bites of sandwiches, bananas — basically anything that can be consumed in two or three bites and quickly forgotten, and something that will hold in one of the pockets on the back of each rider’s jersey.
But, secondly, what happens with the trash when riders are done with their frequent meals? Most things with wrappers are either put back in the pocket or are tossed by the roadside. But don’t freak out, fellow friends of the environment — there are so many fans clamoring for souvenirs by the edge of the race course that pretty much every inch of the Tour’s distance is scrubbed for artifacts from that year’s race. The riders even play games with this fact, waiting for a solitary fan in a field to toss their water bottles by the side of the thoroughfare.
These are the kinds of things you discuss when six men are working at the front and no one wants to really chase from behind on a long, hot day in the lower southern reaches of the French Alps. The leading six had a twelve-minute advantage by the start of the day’s final climb, the Cat. 2 Col du Noyer. All that was left was to wonder which of the six would win the day’s stage. Would France, with strength in numbers, win the day? Bouet took his chances with Aerts, but quickly faded. Then the critical move unfolded — with 13km left before the finish line in Gap, former Olympic silver medalist Paulinho and Russian breakaway companion Kiryienka made the decisive pull that distanced them from the remaining quartet and put them on the road to a two-up sprint for the stage win. There would, it appeared, be no joy for France today…
… and this was no mirage. Rolland would be the closest Frenchman at 4th on the stage, as his compatriot Bouet overcooked it on the climb and fell back 3:20 from the leaders at the end. At the finish in Gap, Kiryienka led out the sprint along the right side, nearly hugging the railing like Calvin Borel at Churchill Downs. But Paulinho, the Portuguese veteran, claimed his own long-sought stage win at the Tour de France with a finish around the Russian on the left that simply could not be countered one last time. There was no joy in Gap amongst the French spectators wishing for that next Moncoutie or Virenque or Jalabert to emerge from amongst the ranks of their professional cycling countrymen, but they would be treated to one hell of a finish nonetheless…
STAGE 10 RESULTS
|1||Sergio Paulinho (Por) Team Radioshack||5:10:56|
|2||Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d’Epargne|
|3||Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step||0:01:29|
|4||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom|
|5||Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||0:01:33|
|6||Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale||0:03:20|
|7||Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale||0:12:58|
|8||Rémi Pauriol (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne||0:13:57|
|9||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia||0:14:19|
|10||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini|
|1||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank||49:00:56|
|2||Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana||0:00:41|
|3||Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi||0:02:45|
|4||Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank||0:02:58|
|5||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||0:03:31|
|6||Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack||0:03:59|
|7||Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank||0:04:22|
|8||Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||0:04:41|
|9||Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||0:05:08|
|10||Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo||0:05:09|
|1||Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team||138||pts|
|2||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini||131|
|3||Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha||116|
|4||Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||98|
|5||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC – Columbia||97|
|6||Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||86|
|7||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team||82|
|8||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team||74|
|9||Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram||71|
|10||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step||69|
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
|1||Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step||91||pts|
|2||Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||90|
|3||Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d’Epargne||62|
|4||Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto||58|
|5||Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini||56|
|6||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank||50|
|7||Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne||47|
|8||Sandy Casar (Fra) Française des Jeux||43|
|9||Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel – Euskadi||40|
|10||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step||36|
BEST YOUNG RIDER
|1||Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank||49:00:56|
|2||Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank||0:04:22|
|3||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo||0:05:11|
|4||Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||0:30:18|
|5||Julien El Farès (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne||0:30:29|
|6||Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Footon-Servetto||0:31:29|
|7||Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||0:32:59|
|8||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank||0:46:01|
|9||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team||0:51:08|
|10||Arkaitz Duran Daroca (Spa) Footon-Servetto||0:52:19|