Tour de France Stage 10 Preview: More Climbs!

A transition stage with some bite - Stage 10 opens a challenging second week for the Tour de France survivors.

By Whit Yost |

Stage 10 – Vulcania to Issoire (167.2km) – Tuesday, July 11

Days like Stage 10 are the reason why the 2023 Tour de France is one of the hardest in recent memory. Monday was the Tour’s first rest day, and rather than give the riders a chance to re-acclimate to racing speed with a flat to rolling stage that ends in a field sprint, the Tour’s organisers are giving them a hilly stage filled with second and third category climbs–the first of which is climbed right from the start of the stage.

The day begins in Vulcania, an amusement park built in the heart of the Chaîne des Puys, a range of about 80 extinct volcanoes and a fitting bookend to a rest day that began after the riders climbed the most famous one in the region: the Puy de Dôme.

Riders looking to go on the attack will be warming-up on trainers in the start village because they’ll be ascending the Category 3 Col de la Moréno just two kilometres after the stage officially begins. It’ll be game-on as soon as the flag drops, as riders battle to join the breakaway with the hopes of fighting for the stage win in Issoire.

If he’s recovered from his sixth-place finish on the Puy de Dôme at the end of Stage 9, American Neilson Powless could be one of the riders in the early move. He enters the stage leading Austria’s Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) by 18 points, and with 13 more available on the day’s five categorised climbs, he could extend his advantage even more.

There’s barely a flat or straight stretch of road as the stage winds its way through the Massif Central toward Issoire. This will play to the advantage of a breakaway that will likely be filled with strong riders, many of whom probably excel in hilly spring Classics like Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Tour de France 2023 Stage 10 profileThe stage should come down to the day’s final climb, the Category 3 Côte de la Chapelle-Marcousse, which the riders summit 28.6km from the finish line in Issoire. It’s a downhill ride on narrow, technical roads until about 10km to go, when the roads straighten and the downhill gradient evens out. The finish itself is pretty flat, with just two 90-degree corners inside the final 2km. But we don’t expect to see a large group sprinting for the win, as this stage has breakaway written all over it.

As far as the yellow jersey is concerned, this stage will be hard for Jumbo-Visma to control, and if Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is feeling frisky (Frankly, when doesn’t he?) and senses that the moment is right, he could try and put Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard, who enters the day wearing yellow by just 17 seconds over the Slovenian, under pressure.

And the weather won’t help matters: it’s going to be sweltering, with temperatures in the upper-30s with a chance of thunderstorms late in the day. (No wonder the stage starts in Vulcania.)

Riders to watch

We’re expecting a breakaway to go all the way, which makes picking a stage winner a bit of a crapshoot in terms of which riders from which teams are allowed to head up the road to chase for a stage win.

Lidl-Trek missed the 14-rider breakaway on Stage 9, and will surely look to atone for their mistake on Stage 10. Bahrain Victorious, whose GC leader Mikel Landa lost more time on Stage 10, will likely send more riders on the attack and keep less around their captain. Israel-PremierTech, buoyed by Mike Woods’ win on the Puy de Dôme, will look to keep their streak going in Issoire.

And last but not least, we saw Astana put a rider in the move on Sunday, most likely because Great Britain’s Mark Cavendish has (sadly) crashed-out of the Tour. They’ll discuss a new approach during the rest day and will likely designate a rider or two for each of the upcoming stages.

When to Watch

This is a transitional stage in the truest sense of the word, but with a challenging profile that should produce an exciting finish. If you’re working and have an extra monitor, have the stage on in the background (but position the monitor so your boss can’t sneak up and ask you what you’re watching). If that’s not an option, tune-in around 16h45 to watch the final 45 minutes of the stage.

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