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Paulinho storms the Bastille as leaders enjoy their holiday

Stage 10: Chambéry > Gap (179 km)

On Bastille Day, the entire Tour de France decided to join in the holiday mood, with all the leading riders enjoying an easy and uncomplicated day in the saddle. However, RadioShack‘s Portuguese rider Sérgio Paulinho denied France the joy of celebrating a ‘home’ winner on their national holiday, defeating Vasil Kiryienka in a final two-up sprint.

The stage started in fast and furious fashion, with several failed breakaway attempts as a number of French riders in particular tried to steal the limelight. Finally, after 36 km, a small group comprising Paulinho, Kiryienka, Mario Aerts and Dries Devenyns – oddly, two Belgians, a Portuguese and a Belarusian – was allowed to escape, with Saxo Bank and RadioShack ruthlessly clamping down on any attempts by other riders – French or otherwise – to bridge the gap.

In between, Alessandro Petacchi had led fellow green jersey rivals Thor Hushovd and Robbie McEwen across the intermediate sprint point as the three took the bonus points on offer. Mark Cavendish was nowhere to be seen, underlining that, while he has not necessarily given up hope of winning the points competition, stage wins are now his number one priority.

Eventually, Pierre Rolland and Maxime Bouet jumped across the gap to the escapees. The peloton effectively sat up en masse from that point – their average speed for the day a leisurely 33 kph – allowing the six-man lead group to gain an advantage of 11:25 and conserving energy for the sprint days and then the killer stages in the Pyrenees which will follow them.

With about 15 km left, Aerts attacked the lead group, prompting a counter-move by Devenyns, which in turn led to a decisive burst by Paulinho and Kiryienka that took them clear to contest the finish in Gap after successfully negotiating the same downhill corner 4 km from the finish on which Joseba Beloki suffered a hip-shattering crash in 2003, famously sending Lance Armstrong careering across a ploughed field as he took evasive action.

Stage 10 winner Sergio Paulinho

With about 200 metres remaining, Paulinho launched his sprint, and although Kiryienka responded he fell short by half a wheel of claiming Belarus’s first ever Tour stage win. Instead, Paulinho took the first individual Tour victory by a Portuguese rider since 1989, adding to a palmarès which includes an Olympic silver medal and a stage of the Vuelta.

Paulinho was delighted to have achieved the greatest win of his career:

It was a close sprint but the most important thing is to win and so this moment, for me and my team, is a good one. I hope that in the coming days the team can achieve a few more victories.

For me this victory is more important than the silver medal in the Olympic Games [road race in Athens in 2004]. This is the best race in the world and to win one stage in the Tour is the pinnacle of what a cyclist can achieve.

Meanwhile Andy Schleck was relaxed enough to savour his first day wearing the maillot jaune:

It was quite an easy day even if it was fast at the beginning. It was a breakaway day so we took it kind of easy behind. I had a little bit of time to enjoy my first day in the yellow jersey.

And Jérôme Pineau regained the polka dot jersey he had lost to Anthony Charteau yesterday. He now leads the King of the Mountains competition by a single point.

Tomorrow the attention switches back to the sprinters. With Cavendish showing that the Alps have not taken too much out of his legs by beating Petacchi, Hushovd and McEwen in the battle for the minor placings some 14 minutes down on Paulinho, he will be a hot favourite to claim his third stage this year in tomorrow’s long, flat finish into Bourg-lès-Valence.

Stage 10 result:

1. Sérgio Paulinho (RadioShack) 5:10:56

2. Vasil Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne) same time

3. Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) +1:29

4. Pierre Rolland (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) s/t

5. Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) +1:33

General classification (yellow jersey):

1. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) 43:35:41

2. Alberto Contador (Astana) +0:41

3. Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) +2:45

4. Denis Menchov (Rabobank) +2:58

5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) +3:31

6. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) +3:59

7. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) +4:22

8. Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d’Epargne) +4:41

9. Joaquín Rodríquez (Katusha) +5:08

10. Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo) +5:09

Selected others:

11. Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo) +5:11

12. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) +5:42

13. Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) +6:31

17. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) +7:18

18. Cadel Evans (BMC) +7:47

31. Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) +17:22

Points classification (green jersey):

1. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) 138 pts

2. Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) 131

3. Robbie McEwen (Katusha) 116

4. José Joaquín Rojas (Caisse d’Epargne) 98

5. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) 97

Climbers’ classification (polka dot jersey):

1. Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) 91 pts

2. Anthony Charteau (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) 90

3. Christophe Moreau (Caisse d’Epargne) 62

4. Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 58

5. Damiano Cunego (Lampre) 56

Stage 11 preview:

Start & finish: Sisteron > Bourg-lès-Valence

Distance & type: 184.5 km, plain

Prediction: Expect an early break to go up today’s one climb. Whether the peloton comes back together for a bunch finish will depend on how much punishment the sprinters have taken in the Alps and how keen they are to sweep up the intermediate sprint points, to which the answer is probably: very. Look for Thor Hushovd at the intermediate sprints, and Mark Cavendish and the usual suspects at the finish.

For more reviews and informed comments about the Tour de France, please read any (or all!) of the following excellent blogs:

Marc’s sports blog

Todd Kinsey’s TDF blog

SportPH

Cyclingproject365

Richard Tulloch’s Life on the Road

The social cyclist

Gonecycling

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

5 Responses to Paulinho storms the Bastille as leaders enjoy their holiday

  1. Thanks for reminding me of the Lance Armstrong field incident. I watched in awe as it happened live…was it really 2003? Where did my life go to? What have I achieved in the past seven years? And Lance has gone from 1 to 31 in that time, just by being 7 min 22 seconds slower over 1500 km.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve talked about Luz-Ardiden elsewhere, but this was a key moment in the 2003 Tour too, coming as it did nearly a week before that famous mountain win. If Lance had not done what he did when he did, he would have lost the Tour that day – and who knows what would have then happened in 2004 and 2005?

      On the UK ITV highlights show, they did a walk-through of the field that showed just how treacherous it was. If Lance had hesitated a fraction longer before entering the field, the bank would have been much steeper and he would have fallen. The field itself is one hell of a steep and bumpy descent – the standard TV helicopter shots serve to flatten the gradient, as they always do. And the ditch at the end which he hops over carrying the bike is huge – it’s difficult enough to leap without a bike in your hands, never mind with one at the end of a seriously hard and hot stage.

  2. gonecycling says:

    Excellent as always, Tim. In thinking about Beloki on today’s stage (and what a horrible crash that was) I still remember Liggett and Sherwen pronoucing his first name variously as Jo-SEE-ba, Jo-SHAY-ba, Yo-SHEE-ba, Ho-SABRE, Jo-SHEE-ba, Ho-ZAY-ba, Yo-SABRE, Jo-SABRE – and I’m sure there were many more. In fact, I still don’t know how ‘Joseba’ is meant to be pronounced…anyway, thanks for a great write-up.

    • Tim says:

      Now you mention it, I have no idea either. With my extremely patchy Spanish, I would say Yo-Sabre, but I have no idea whether that’s right or not. You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to …

  3. Pingback: Tour de France 2010 review: Stage-by-stage « The armchair sports fan

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