Following the rest day yesterday, the riders at this year’s Tour de France went back out onto the road today, where they continued their ride through the French countryside. The day started with wind, rain, and even hale at the start, and ended with a clash of sprinters at the end.
Stage 10 was another hilly affair, with two Category 3 and 4 climbs. Despite that however, it was a blisteringly fast ride that had the Peloton sweeping across the course in a very workmen like fashion. When it was all said and done, the top sprinters in the sport had may there way to the front, and a mad dash to the finish saw André Greipel of Omega Pharma out sprint Mark Cavendish to the line after 158km (98.17 miles) of riding. Jose Rojas finished third a short distance back.
As a result of the sprints today, Cavendish made up ground in the race for the Green Jersey, which still sits on the shoulders of Philippe Gilbert. Cav is still in third place in that competition, behind Rojas, but the gap has narrowed considerably, which should mean some real spirited rides in the stages to come. As expected, French rider Thomas Voeckler remains in Yellow today, Johnny Hoogerland keeps the Polka Dot Jersey. Hoogerland suffered through the ride today with 33 stitches in his legs following the horrific crash on Sunday that sent him into a barb wire fence. Dutch rider Robert Gesink held on to the White Jersey today as well.
Tomorrow’s stage is the calm before the storm. It features a 167.5km (104.7 miles) of racing between Blayes-les-Mines and Lavaur. The course will once again undulate across the French countryside, but will only have a single Cat 3 and 4 climb. An intermediate sprint point, almost exactly in the middle of the stage, will provide some fireworks as Cavendish looks to close the gap on the Green Jersey even further. Otherwise, it is unlikely that tomorrows stage will provide any major changes in the standings.
On Thursday, the Pyrenees loom at last.
One other note, RadioShack rider Yaroslav Popovych has retired from the race due to a fever. He is the third rider from that team to go home, following Chris Horner, who left with a broken nose and a concussion, and Janez Brajkovic, who withdrew with a broken collar bone. Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden are also riding with injuries sustained in various crashes throughout the first week of the race. It is safe to say that the RadioShack squad is one beat-up unit at the moment.
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