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July 16, 2019
Photography by Gruber Images, Kristof Ramon
Several big GC names were caught out in a wind-blown stage 10 at the Tour de France. Forced to chase after a split in the bunch, Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) all finished 1:40 down on the day, while Mikel Landa (Movistar) crossed the line further back, 2:09 down.
In addition to stage victor Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Vismoa), the Ineos duo of Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal,Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, and race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) were among the big winners on the day after finishing in the lead group.
Having gained so much time on so many rivals, Thomas took the opportunity to joke about the criticism his team sometimes receives for its racing style.
“It is certainly a good blow. You just got to be on it and ready to go at any moment, and that’s where we were. But yeah, we race boring anyway, don’t we?” Thomas said after the stage.
What was expected to be straightforward sprinters’ day turned out to be anything but as the peloton turned into heavy winds with around 60 kilometers to go. Sensing danger, or the potential to gain an edge, teams began fighting for the position, lining out the peloton.
The pack split and then regrouped, but the pace did not slacken, with the well-positioned squads keeping the pressure high.
With around 40 kilometers to go, a collection of EF Education First riders massed at the front to up the tempo. Then Ineos took over. Within minutes, the elastic snapped. The bunch split into multiple groups, with Porte, Fuglsang, Pinot, Landa, and Urán – despite his own team’s work to force the split – among those in the second group.
Thibaut Pinot on stage 10 of the Tour de France. Photo: ©kramon
“We tried to take it, but I think we went just at touch too early, got overwhelmed, and then we came around the big bend and that’s when it really started to explode,” Michael Woods told CyclingTips after the stage. “We just saw groups going everywhere.”
Those caught out quickly organized a chase, but Ineos and Deceuninck-Quick-Step brought their own firepower to bear. Their hard work quickly shut down the day’s breakaway, and it kept the gap to the chasing GC riders at around 30 seconds for several kilometers. Then, the leaders began to pull away.
Unfortunately for Landa, he was not among the front group that approached Albi to battle for the stage victory. He crashed some 25 kilometers from the line, apparently due to a touch of wheels with Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic).
Barguil apologized on Twitter for causing the crash.
“I am sorry about Mikel Landa’s fall,” Barguil wrote (in French). “Off balance after I touched wheels with Julian [Alaphilippe], I touched Mikel who was coming up on my left hand side. It was very fast, it wasn’t on purpose. I was lucky enough not to crash, but that wasn’t the case for Mikel. I hope he’s all right.”
When all was said and done, van Aert led the lead group over the line a full 1:40 ahead of the group containing Porte, Fuglsang, Pinot, Landa, and Urán, with Landa another 29 seconds behind that. Jumbo-Visma’s George Bennett finished the day nearly 10 minutes down.
Alaphilippe remains atop the GC standings, with Thomas and Bernal jumping up to second and third overall.
The day’s winners and losers alike will have a long-awaited opportunity to recover some strength on Tuesday as the Tour peloton gets its first rest day.