Kittel opened up a substantial gap after taking the lead in the final sprint.

Photo Gallery: 2017 Tour de France, Stage 10

by Evan Hartig

German Marcel Kittel (Quick Step Floors) sprinted to his fourth victory of the 2017 Tour de France on Stage 10. Compatriot John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) took second, with Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) in third.

The flat stage, beginning in Périgueux and concluding in Bergerac, was the first to follow a rest day following a taxing mountainous weekend. Stage 10 marked Kittel’s fourth victory of the 2017 Tour and his 13th overall Tour stage win after his first in 2013, surpassing Erik Zabel with the record number of stage wins for a German rider.

As he was on Stage 2, Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was again the first aggressor of the day, distancing himself from the peloton within the first two kilometers after the neural rollout. Fortuneo-Oscaro’s Elie Gesbert made the bridge, and there were two out front. The peloton, content to let the two men go, fanned out across the road and allowed the duo’s gap to rise freely.

Offredo and Gesbert’s lead dropped dramatically after Quick-Step, Cofidis, Lotto-Soudal and Katusha-Alpecin began efficiently coordinating the chase with 50 kilometers remaining. With 25 kilometers left, their gap had already dropped below 40 seconds. It was too early, though, and their pursuers took a brief respite, allowing the gap to rise back to around one minute.

Greipel’s Lotto-Soudal train was in charge of the chase going into the final ten kilometers. With seven kilometers left on the day, the duo out front was caught, and it was an open race. It was an odd mix of riders at the front of the field, with the wide roads seeing GC teams battling the sprinter’s lead-outs for control. LottoNL-Jumbo was there as well, in addition to Direct Energie and Katusha-Alpecin.

Lotto-Soudal led into the final kilometer, their train still looking composed, with Greipel perfectly positioned to take his first win of this Tour.

But, in accordance with his style, Kittel waited for the dense chaos to clear at the front of the field and surfed wheels through the last 100 meters, only meeting the wind after he’d wound up his sprint behind the leaders. He fully opened up and his margin quickly grew, distancing Degenkolb and Groenewegen.

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