Stage 10 of the 2009 Tour de France was a fairly easy, by the numbers, affair today. In fact, Lance Armstrong called it one of the more relaxed days he had ever experienced on the tour. The course was a 194.5 km (120 mile) ride through the rolling hills between Limoges and Issoudun that offered the climbers few chances to flex their muscles but gave the sprinters some time to shine.
An early breakaway by a group of French riders looking to celebrate Bastille Day provided a bit of intrigue to the proceedings, but the Peloton wasn’t ready to grant them their independence just yet, and the break was run down, mostly thanks to some good work from the Columbia-HTC team. At the end of the stage, George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw helped to propel their teammate, Mark Cavendish to yet another stage win (his third this year), with “the Missile” finishing just ahead of Thor Hushovd and promising young sprinter Tyler Farrar.
The standings remained unchanged for the Jersey holders and the top of the GC. Rinaldo Nocentini remained in the Yellow Jersey once again, as expected, with Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong content to remain seconds off the pace, lurking, and waiting for the Alps next week. Hushovd kept the Green Jersey despite losing out at the line to Cavendish, while Egoi Martinez stayed in the Polka Dot Jersey, with little more than Cat 4 climbs to challenge the climbers today. Tony Martin is still the top newcomer to the race, and as a result, he keeps the White Jersey as well, and if I were willing to bet, I’d say he’ll be riding into Paris with White on his back.
Tomorrow, the riders will face a 192km (119 miles) jaunt from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau that will, much like today, favor the sprinters. The terrain will mostly be rolling hills once again, with a few Category 4 climbs mixed in. Don’t expect any movement in the General Classification once more, while the top speedsters vie for sprint points to apply to the Green Jersey. For now, all eyes are focused on next Tuesday and the coming of the Alps.
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