Tour de France Stage 10 Preview: A Mostly Flat Transitional Stage

AFTER THE REST DAY, STAGE 10 IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR THE SPRINTERS TO PLAY FOR GREEN, ASSUMING WEATHER DOESN’T PLAY A FACTOR.


By Joe Lindsey |

Stage 10 – Albertville to Valence – 190.7km – Tuesday, July 6

After Monday’s well-deserved rest day, the Tour de France departs the Alps on a classic transitional stage, heading southwest from Albertville to Valence, near the Massif Central. The race won’t enter those tricky climbs, however, instead just tracing the edge of the region en route to the finish.

There’s a long history of riders inexplicably having a bad day after the first rest day (the dreaded “jour sans”). But the route for Stage 10 itself poses few difficulties. There’s just one modest climb, the Category 4 Col de Couz, in the first third of the stage, and then a small uncategorised bump leading to the intermediate sprint stage. After that, it’s mostly flat, with just one more unranked climb coming at 155km, with more than enough time for any dropped riders to regain the bunch.

After a gentle descent, the last 5km are dead-flat and untechnical except for the inexplicable decision by race organisers to put the finish line 200 meters after a an open, right-hand curve through a roundabout. It’s a big roundabout and likely won’t pose any problems, but there’s definitely a squeeze as the road narrows, and it would’ve been just as easy to put the finish line 500 or so meters earlier. This is the kind of course design that leads riders to protest what they think is a callous disregard for their safety.

That’s all on paper, of course. In the real world, weather plays a role. And while the forecast for Tuesday could change, right now it’s a little spotty. There is a likely head and head-crosswind of up to 16km/h, but gusts could be stronger And, there’s a decent chance of thunderstorms for the finish in Valence.

Should those conditions materialise for Stage 10, it will make for a tougher day of racing on what should otherwise be a no-stress stage. The head/crosswinds will work against any breakaway attempts. If the pack is all together, expect lots of jostling as riders try to stay up front to avoid getting caught out if the group splits into echelons in crosswinds. Crashes, and gaps, are likely in those situations, and it’s impossible to say how it might play out.

Riders to Watch

It’s tough to say given the forecast, but if a break develops, expect it to be powered by big guys with Classics-racing experience. Deceuninck-Quick Step is the best Classics team in the sport, and Kasper Asgreen’s ferocious power and time trial ability make him ideally suited for the stage. Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert could be active as well, and Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven and Mads Pedersen also thrive in hard racing in hard conditions. Bahrain-Victorious’ Sonny Colbrelli is in excellent form, and might want a shot at the intermediate sprint points to try to cut into Mark Cavendish’s lead.

For a bunch finish, Cavendish is the hot hand, especially since two of rival Alpecin-Fenix’s fastest finishers, Mathieu van der Poel and Stage 3 winner Tim Merlier, have gone home. Or maybe it’s Arkea-Samsic’s Nacer Bouhanni, who finally gets that elusive first Tour stage win after coming up short in three previous editions in his 11-year career.

How to Watch

Stages with possible crosswinds are impossible to handicap for best times to watch. Splits can develop at any point, and the racing gets riveting. If your work situation doesn’t let you have a stream running in the background, we’d suggest a quick check of the situation around the climb, but the final 10km should be where the action is. But keep an eye out, because this is the kind of stage where something wild could happen at any moment, as we have seen every day so far in the 2021 Tour.

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