The eleventh day of racing in the Tour de France (Tuesday July 13, 2010). Stage 9 – Morzine-Avoriaz Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. This stage was 204.5 km. This was the first stage of the 97th Tour that featured only two intermediate sprints; they were in Cluses (25.5km) and La Bathie (135.5km). On the menu were five climbs, including the first ‘Hors Category’ col this year. Points for the polka-dot jersey were won at the côte de Châtillon (cat-4 at 18.5km), col de la Colombière (cat-1 at 46km), col des Aravis (cat-2 at 71km), col des Saisies (cat-1 at 97km) and col de la Madeleine (‘Hors Category’ at 172.5km). There was a breakaway including Sandy Casar who ultimately won the stage. On the Col de la Madeleine, Cadel Evans cracked (later revealing that he had broken his elbow the day before in the crash). Andy Schleck, the Luxembourger, took the yellow jersey for the first time. The Best Young rider is now the leader of the Tour.
The twelfth day of racing in the Tour de France (Wednesday July 14th, 2010). Stage 10 – Chambéry Gap. This stage was 179 km. The route included two intermediate sprints – in La Buissiere (at 19.5km) and La Fare-en-Champsaur (158.5km). It was an undulating stage but only three hills were categorized: the Laffrey climb (cat-1 at 77km), Terrasses (cat-3 at 98km), and col du Noyer (cat-2 at 145.5km). Lance Armstrong, the leader of the RadioShack team conceded that his race for the overall victory was over. But in Gap the winner gave Lance’s RadioShack squad a reward in its first appearance in the Tour. At the 36km mark, Aerts (OLO), Devenyns (QST), Paulinho (RSH) and Kiryienka (GCE) escaped. Paulinho was part of an escape group of six that eventually formed after a fast, aggressive start. And that’s when the peloton opted to remain calm on a very hot day of racing. The escape succeeded, and Paulinho was the strongest man. He beat Vasili Kiryienka in a two-man sprint.
The thirteenth day of racing in the Tour de France (Thursday July 15th, 2010). Stage 11 – Sisteron Bourg-lès-Valence. This stage was 184.5 km. It was a day for the sprinters. Yes, there was an attack. Yes, it went early. No, it never gained enough time to even look like succeeding. On this ‘flat’ stage were two intermediate sprints – the first in Montlaur-en-Diois (at 83.5km), the second in Mirabel-et-Blacons (130km). There is just one climb, the category-three col de Cabre (at 56.5km). Mark Cavendish won his third stage in this year’s Tour, and the 13th of his career. But not without major controversy, and ultimately a disqualification for Mark Cavendish’s lead-out man Mark Renshaw. Mark Renshaw first was head buttingGarmin-Transition’s lead-out man Julian Dean (for Tyler Farrar). Then purposely cut off Farrar from sprinting for the finish line. He was kicked out of the Tour for unsportsman-like behaviour.
The fourteenth day of racing in the Tour de France (Friday July 16, 2010). Stage 12 – Bourg-de-Péage Mende. This stage was 210.5 km. The 210.5km race included two intermediate sprints – in Mariac at 74.5km and Langogne 158.5km – and five climbs. The points for the polka-dot jersey were awarded at Saint-Barthelemy-le-Plain (cat-3 at 31km), col des Nonieres (cat-3 at 59km), Suc de Montivernoux (cat-2 at 96km), La Mouline (cat-3 at 133km) and the final test up the Croix Neuve – or ‘Montée Laurent Jalabert’ as it’s also known – two kilometers from the finish. The last climb carried double points. There were a number of escapes that were lost then caught throughout the race. With 3km to go, Rodriguez (KAT) attacked the yellow jersey’s peloton and only Contador could respond. This pair caught Vinokourov (the last of the escapees) with 2km to go. Contador made up 10 seconds on Andy Schleck for the yellow jesrsey.
The fifteenth day of racing in the Tour de France (Saturday July 17, 2010). Stage 13 – Rodez Revel. This stage was 196 km. On the undulating course in the Averyon and Tarn departments, there were five categorized climbs, they were at Mergais (cat-4 at 24km), Begon (cat-4 at 31.5km), Ambialet (cat-3 at 72km), Puylaurens (cat-4 at 125km) and the final climb on the circuit near Revel, the côte de Saint-Ferréol (cat-3, 7.5km from the finish). The intermediate sprints were in Saint-Jean-Delnous (47km) and Caraman (158km). Although he won the ‘Fighting Spirit’ prize for being the most aggressive rider on Friday, for Alexandre Vinokourov that wasn’t good enough and he wanted to win the stage. and he did just that in Revel after a stunning attack on the final climb which spoiled the hopes of the sprinters who raced in to the town. Andy Schleck is still in the yellow jersey.