Yellow for Dessel; stage win for Mercado
Cyril Dessel (AG2R) is the new maillot jaune in the Tour de France, after placing second in today's 10th stage behind breakaway companion Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel). The pair had attacked a bigger break on the day's last climb, the Col de Marie-Blanque, with around 50 km to go and finished in Pau with a 56 second advantage over Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The peloton, containing overnight leader Serguei Gonchar (T-Mobile), finished 7'23 behind, thus Gonchar lost the lead to Dessel, with Mercado moving up to second overall.
Today's stage was very aggressive early on, with attack after attack trying to get clear. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) tried on his own for a while, but it wasn't until just after the first sprint at km 37 when a 15 man group got away: Da Cruz (FDJ), Vasseur (Quick.Step), Quinziato (Liquigas), Voigt (CSC), Steegmans (Davitamon), Moreni (Cofidis), Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Landaluze, Isasi (Euskaltel), Posthuma (Rabobank), Bennati (Lampre), Dessel (AG2R), Rinero (Saunier Duval), Sprick (Bouygues), Mercado (Agritubel). The group gained a maximum of 11'00 with T-Mobile controlling things behind.
Over the Col d'Osquich (km 50) and Col du Soudet (km 101.5), the break gradually lost riders until there were only seven left up front at the foot of the Marie-Blanque with 50 km left. Mercado and Dessel attacked and dropped the rest, despite a valiant attempt by Landaluze to come back. In the final five kilometres, Dessel did all the work, and it was no surprise to see Mercado sprint past him for the stage win, while Dessel took the yellow and the polka dot jersey.
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