Mitchelton-Scott director Matt White believes the physical and mental fatigue from Sunday's Roubaix stage could have lingering effects on the Tour de France peloton as the race hits the first of three Alpine stages on Tuesday.
Stage 10 does not conclude with a mountain-top finish but there are five categorised climbs, including the Col de la Croix Fry, the Montée du Plateau des Glières, the Col de Romme and the Col de la Colombière all featuring.
After a rest-day, at least one GC contender tends to crack during the first day back in the saddle. However, so tough and demanding was Sunday’s cobbled adventure, many riders – especially those who fell – could struggle in the mountains. "A lot of people, when you talk to the sports scientists and the athletes, no one really knows how they’re going to back-up after a rest-day and the added factor of the Roubaix stage," White told Cyclingnews on the morning of stage 10.
"A lot of the GC guys have never had to race on the cobbles, so we’re not going to know how those guys are going until the first climb of the day.
"That said, I still think that riders will go for it on GC. Perhaps not on the early climbs because there are too many questions over how people are going but I think that people will have to be attentive, while stage 11 is more of a day when things could go from the start."
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) heads into stage 10 with the yellow jersey, while Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) sits second overall and is one of the favourites to take the lead at the end of the stage. The opening nine stages saw Richie Porte crash out but the majority of the GC riders came through on par with some losing time on certain stages but gaining it back on others.
"[Nairo] Quintana is going to have to attack in the next few days in order to make up time, and then we have the question over [Mikel] Landa who was in that crash. Then we have [Alejandro] Valverde, who has been under the radar but we know the class he has. So, Movistar are in an interesting position. Team Sky had some crashes but most people think that they’re riding for Froome," White said.
"Then you have guys like [Vincenzo] Nibali who has been quiet and Daniel Martin coped well after his crash. 100 per cent the GC battle starts again today. Most of the GC guys were trying to get through the first nine days without losing time. Very few of them were looking to gain time. The GC didn’t split up as much as many people expected."
White’s team leader, Adam Yates, sits ninth on GC heading into the Alps and is tied on time with Froome. The British climber lost time after being held up in a crash on stage 1 but rallied through the rest of the opening week. Fourth overall in 2016, the 25-year-old is well placed as the race enters his favourite terrain.
"Adam is good. We’re happy with his race so far after the first nine days. He was caught behind the crash on stage 1 and lost some time but other than that he’s been there. Things could always have gone better or worse but that’s how it is in our sport. In general we’re happy with where we are but the next three days in the Alps are going to determine who has saved energy and who has come into the mountains a little bit tired."