With an exciting Stage 10 in the books, it looks like yesterday’s rest day did the riders well. Here’s what we had out eye on:
Stage 10 had pretty even odds between attackers and sprinters, and with 15k to go, Phillipe Gilbert’s Green Jersey and Thomas Voeckler’s Yellow Jersey were joined by HTC’s Tony Martin, Cofidis’s Tony Gallopin, and Quick Step’s Dries Devenyns took a dig off the front. Gilbert was the most committed – hunting a stage win for maximum Points – and Tony Martin the most flaky, trying to skip pulls since he should have been back in the bunch pulling things together for Cavendish. In the end, Leopard-Trek’s Jens Voight earned his burritos at the front and pulled them back.
Gilbert’s failed move meant that he missed out on collecting any significant Points, which may be a blow to his hold on the Green Jersey (especially with Cavendish and JJ Rojas takins 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the finale). Was his move, therefore, ill-advised? Or, as is sometimes the case with racing with panache, a calculated risk that was just unsuccessful? Regardless, Gilbert is making his mark on the Points Competition. Can he keep his lead until Paris?
Quick Step’s Dries Devenyns has had an impressive Tour, with top-tens on hard stages and some aggressive racing, including looking pretty committed to today’s late attack. Will it pay off with a stage win?
When the move was reeled in, the stage was set for Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Andre Gripel to bring home the biggest win of his career. In a head-to-head sprint against Mark Cavendish, Greipel took home the win he’s wanted to for a long time – beating Cav and finally winning an A-level sprint. Is this win enough to justify his two years of smack-talking? Is Greipel finally a world-class sprinter? Has he always been?
One wonders how much Cavendish needs his leadout train – some say he’d be almost as dominant without it, but today, he was isolated in the finale, and got beaten.
Rabobank’s Robert Gesink continued his run of bad luck, with an early crash and a mechanical. Rabobank leads the team competition on the strength of Luis Leon Sanchez’s stage win on Sunday. Will he be their GC man from here out?
Further questions abound today as Katusha’s poor performance continue with the removal of Alexander Kolobnev. Is Tchmil’s great Russian Experiment a sinking ship? Furthermore, RadioShack’s Popovych has abandoned – their squad is looking increasingly decimated, with Popo and Horner out, Levi pretty far behind, and Kloden with some aches and pains. Can they steal a stage win for redemption?
Tomorrow’s stage 11 is the first of only three remaining sprint-likely (coefficient 1) stages. Can Cavendish close the gap to Gilbert in the Points Comptition? Can Greipel repeat? Can Rojas continue his stealthy creep toward Green?