A long, largely downhill, though lumpy stage into the beautiful city of Albi saw Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) take the first of what will assuredly be many grand tour stages. His brilliant long-range sprint obliterated the other sprinters, though runner-up Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was on his wheel and came close with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) back in third place. The sprint finish came from the leading group of around 30 riders after echelon action had rent the peloton asunder some 25km from the finish, wrong-footing a number of GC contenders. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) remains in pole position but he now has the INEOS duo of defending champion Geraint Thomas and best young rider Egan Bernal sharing the podium.
Rider of the race
There’s only one winner today, and that’s the stage winner Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert. He recorded his maiden grand tour victory in imperious fashion from a powerful, lung-busting, long-range sprint to hold off the other sprinters in the leading pack.
Let’s watch the final kilometre, notice how Wout attacks before Sunweb have even finished leading out their sprinter Michael Matthews and yet he has enough time to raise his arms in victory as he crosses the finish line for his team’s fourth victory at this Tour, and the third by a Belgian.
Wout was understandably emotional post-stage:
I can’t believe it, beating all those fast guys in the sprint. Ah… Sorry, I can’t believe it. It’s above anything else. I felt it in the last 10 days, how big this race is. Winning in my first attempt…wow.
It became quite nervous in the finale. I managed to stay in front and kept our leader Stevie in position. Unfortunately, Dylan was not in the first group and I was allowed to go for the sprint. From the last one, I learned I had to go early, so I went 250m from the line. It was close with Viviani, but one centimetre is enough.
Today’s Winners and Losers
Damage was inflicted by the combined efforts of teams INEOS, BORA and QuickStep, who split the bunch into pieces in the crosswinds enabling their GC contenders to gain 1:40 on Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Rigoberto Uran (EF), Guilio Ciccone (Trek), Richie Porte (Trek) and 2:09 on Mikel Landa (Movistar) who was accidentally knocked off his bike by Warren Barguil (Arkea). So much for this being a fairly innocuous stage!
We love tears at VeloVoices Towers but only when they’re tears of joy, not ones of bitter disappointment. After France’s hopes had been raised at the week-end they were cruelly dashed today when Pinot was the wrong side of the echelon mayhen. He falls eight places to 11th and now lies 2:33 back.
Disappointing day too for Fuglsang (and our own @pariswheels) who now lies 16th, after plummeting seven places – 3:22 back.
George Bennett was caught out while on bottle duty, losing 9:41 and swapped his fourth place with teammate Steven Kruijswijk but it was all part of the team’s master plan!
Of course, those whose GC hopes have been dashed today will be looking to attack at every opportunity in order to come away from the Tour with the consolation of a stage win. It could make for even more exciting racing.
I’ve annotated the GC Top Ten (below) to show by how many places today’s winners have moved up.
Stage 10 – Top 5
1 Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 4:49:39
2 Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) same time
3 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) s/t
4 Michael Matthews (Sunweb) s/t
5 Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) s/t
General Classification – Top 10
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 43:27:15
2 Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +1:12 (⇑3)
3 Egan Bernal (INEOS) +1:16 (⇑3)
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) +1:27 (⇑3)
5 Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) +1:45 (⇑5)
6 Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +1:46 (⇑5)
7 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +1:47 (⇑5)
8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:04 (⇑6)
9 Dan Martin (UAE Emirates) +2:09 (⇑7)
10 Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) +2:32 (⇓8)
All the Jerseys
Maillot Jaune: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
Maillot Vert: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
Maillot Blanc: Egan Bernal (INEOS)
King of the Mountains: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)
For the full race review, go to cyclingnews
Header image: GETTY/Velo/Chris Graythen