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Stage Ten is an “intermediate mountain stage” with several special features: 1) It is the perfect day for a group to get away and stay away. 2) It is Bastille Day, so look for the French riders to try and dominate the day. 3) The run-in to Gap will remind everyone of Joseba Beloki's horrific crash in 2003.
Hello and welcome back to the Tour de France. After yesterday's dramatic happenings, we expect things to be a bit quieter today – but who knows?
We#re sorry to say it's going to be another hot one today. It is already 32 Celsius.
The riders have alredy started out on the 4.9km long neutralised zone. There are lots and lots of people here cheering them on their way.
As far as we know, all the riders from yesterday were at the start today. Including Cadel Evans.
Mark Cavendish is in the front row of the race. We don't expect to see him there very long today.
Cavendish takes off, togehter with Voeckler and Champion. They have, oh, five seconds on the field?
Let's make that Tony Martin instead of Cav. And the yre no longer leading, anyway.
Everybody wants to be in the escape group of the day today, so it is a bit unsettled at the moment.
Now a Lampe rider has a slight lead. He keeps looking back to see who might join him. Turns out to be the whole field.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and two others are the next to try their luck.
They are caught and RadioShack's Yaroslav Popovych takes off. And is caught.
A group of five has built up a small lead. At the other end of the field, Manuel Quinziato drops back to the team car for some bike repairs.
That group is caught as well.
There are continuing attacks and counter-attacks and counter-counter-attacks, but so far nothing is working.
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We continue heading south today, 179 km from Chambery to Gap. It is an odd profile. The first 70 kms are slightly rolling, and then wham! A category one mountain takes the peloton up to 886 metres, and they then pretty much stay up there. There is another short climb some 20 km later. At about the 130 km mark, they start going up again, the category two Col du Noyer. From there on it is down, up an unranked climb and then down to the finish.
Everyone still all together. The first intermediate sprint is coming up, and Lampre gathers at the front, to get the points for Petacchi.
A crash. Bookwalter (BMC) and Hunter (Garmin). Hunter appears to be injured.
Hunter is only now climbing back on his bike.
We saw Evans at that crash, fortunately not involved.
Three Lampres, Hushovd and McEwen take off for the sprint. Petacchi grabs the points with Hushovd second and McEwen third.
Four riders includig Tony Martin have gotten together and picked up a little lead. Let's see if we can get some names.
THere was another crash a minute or two ago. Popovych and De Greef went down, but are back up.
Here is our group: Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia), Aitor Perez (Footon), Daniel Oss (Liquigas) and Jeremy Roy (FdJ)
But just like that, they are caught, too.
A Cofidis rider is next to go. He is joined by several others -- Matthew Lloyd, Carlos Barredo, and several more.
They are caught and Rohregger of Milram tries it. He too is caught.
Four more riders take off and there are two ahead of them. Behind them a long stretched out peloton.
Aerts and Devenyns have now established a small lead.
They have been joined by several others now.
Hunter is back in the field. Popovych has quite a rip in his shorts from that crash.
This group consists of Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) , Dries Devenyns (QuickStep), Sergio Paolinho (RadioShack) and Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d'Epargne).
There is quite a bit of discussion at the head of the peloton. The French teams are not happy that there are no French riders in the group and want to give chase. Everyone else is happy to let this group go.
Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) and Bernie Eisel of HTC-Columbia have a chat at the head of the field.
The gap is increasing and is now up to one minute.
Two more riders take off and try to move up.
In fact, there are pretty constantly attacks out of the field, but so far none has really gotten away to join the leaders.
Dan Benson is going to hop on board and take over for a while.
Thank you Susan and hello one and all
Two Frenchmen are now trying to make it across to the leaders but I'm not sure they'll make it, the gap is nearly two minutes.
The four leaders are now riding through a colourful French town, small roads that will help them in their bid to extend the gap.
The bunch have sat up now seem content to let them go. Saxo on the front, Armstrong too and they're having a little chat, so no chase.
Any question on today's stage or the race in general, fire over a tweet to twitter.com/dnlbenson and I'll do my best to answer you. Unless you're mean.
The gap is now over three minutes. Looks like the French have missed out today.
Three categorised climbs still to come so we could see more action from the bunch quite soon but today's stage looks ideal for a break.
Still Rolland an one other rider are trying to bridge up to the four leaders.
Maxime Bouet is the rider with Rolland
Total lack of interest from the bunch now. Garmin and Saxo riders having a bit of a natter - perhaps comparing post-Tour holiday plans. I don't really know but Wiggins and Cavendish are at the back, also chatting.
maxknee @dnlbenson so is cadel completely done? do you think he can make any attempts to salvage his TdF?
Not sure yet. I don't know how serious the injury is right now but it's obviously a problem. I would say that if he can't win the race, or finish on the podium then he might pull out. A rider like him comes to the Tour to win the race and if he can't do that then he might pull out and focus on other events later in the year. Saying that, he finished last year's Tour, but it's a bit different as he's suffering with a broken bone this time around. Either way, huge respect for the ride he produced yesterday. It totally epitomised how much of a champion he is. Evans, one tough cookie.
Here is a quick peek at today's climbs:
•Km 77.0 - Côte de Laffrey - 7.0 km climb to 9 % - Category 1
•Km 98.0 - Côte des Terrasses - 3.3 km climb to 7.1 % - Category 3
•Km 145.5 - Col du Noyer - 7.4 km climb to 5.3 % - Category 2
Both Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong of RadioShack were happy with their rides on Tuesday. Looking back at the first nine stages of this year's race, Armstrong said, “'ve had bad luck and I know that I can't change that. But I've had seven years with hardly a flat, hardly a crash. It’s logical that luck catches up with you. I wish I could change it but I can't. I just have to hold my head high, ride for the team and go out having fun." You can read their comments here.
The gap to the leaders is now 6.45. Saxo Bank have no interest in bringing this one back together yet.
First day for Andy Schleck in yellow. Nice to see he hasn't gone the whole way and kitted himself out in an entire yellow ensemble. Just a jersey and helmet. Just like he promised when we caught up with him Rotterdam.
Wiggins is drifting back now, waiting for a team car.
Saxo coming to the front now but simply to control things a little bit more. The gap is now over eight minutes.
Cancellara is having some lunch at the front of the bunch as the leaders push out to 8.32.
Maxime Bouet (Ag2r) and Pierre Rolland (Bbox) are pretty close to making it across to the four leaders so the French might just get their win today. They're maybe 100 meters away. Nice work chaps.
rob_tandy @dnlbenson Even though Schleck is in Yellow, the burden is on him, correct? We can assume that Contador can more than close the gap in TT?
The burden is on Saxo to control the race, yes. However when it comes to the key moments in the coming days you can expect Astana to also help. For example, if a dangerous rider nips up the road Astana may want to help Saxo. They might also want to put Schleck under pressure and try and crack him.
If the gap remains as it is then Contador should close it in the TT. However he fired blanks in the Dauphine TT and the prologue in Rotterdam so this three minute talk is just speculation at the moment.
Cancellara has had his lunch and is setting the pace now, the lead at 8.46 to the group of six leaders.
Going from four riders to six will greatly improve the chances of this move working.
The leaders are now on the Côte de Laffrey. 5km until the summit. The gap still around 8.45
O'Grady now on the front for Saxo.
Ten years ago O'Grady was in credit Agricole colours and crashed out of the race on stage 6.
That year Javier Ochoa won a famous stage to Hautacam, Armstrong rode into yellow David Millar won the proglogue.
The gap is just over nine minutes now.
Serguei Ivanvov was meant to ride the 2000 Tour too but was kicked out by his team before the start after failing the 50 per cent test. Farm Frites was the team he rode for back then.
Back with the leaders and Kiryienka is leading the break up the climb, with Saxo still controlling affairs behind.
The veteran Aerts now moves to the front and ups the pace. He's having a good Tour.
Van Summeren now at the back of the bunch and getting a bottle. So too are Cofidis and Euskatel riders
Andreas Kloden is hovering towards the back of the bunch. Poor German has had a horrible Tour so far when it comes to accommodation. He's had to endure bunk beds and rooms with no air-con.
Good crowds on the road today, as you would expect, being Bastille Day. So the leaders are getting good support. Wiggins, meanwhile, is pouring water over himself back at the team car.
The road side support at the Tour de France is amazing. No other sport like it, but of course we never like seeing the fans get too close to the riders so that it becomes dangerous. Plenty of room for the riders today as Aerts gets the points at the top of the climb.
At the top of the climb the gap is 8.40
Andy Schleck is back at the team car, picking up a bottle and having a word with Riis.
At the front of the bunch the riders have their daily competition of who has the smoothest chest, jerseys totally unzipped.
The break on the descent now, still working well together.
Schleck has made his way to the front of the bunch already, his team still setting the pace.
The bunch are near the top of the climb now and there's a scrap for the final points.
Pineau takes the points.
That means the mountains jersey is in the hands of Pineau as things now stand.
The leaders are going through the feed now and each grab a mussette. Aerts has look inside as he sits up before taking out a bar of some kind and then getting back down on the bars.
Fabulous scenery in this part of France with the mountains to one side and lakes to the other.
Bouet drops back to the car, perhaps unhappy with the lunch on offer from AG2R and picks up another snack.
The gap is now back over nine minutes, Saxo still on the front of the bunch controlling things. No serious dangers in the break, Rolland is the highest placed rider on GC but he's well down on yellow.
Long, long descent for the leaders now and Katusha come to the front and work with Saxo Bank.
The gap is creeping up again now, it's now at 9.28.
Here's a look back to seven years ago today, on these same roads. This is how the Cyclingnews race report described the incident:
As Beloki descended in the lead of the Cat 3 côte after attacker Alex Vinokourov (Telekom), ONCE team manager Manolo Saiz told him in his earpiece to let Armstrong lead the chase, not him. But it was too late. Beloki went down hard and as the ONCE rider lay on the ground screaming in pain, Saiz could see his injuries were serious. Brave Beloki told Saiz he could go on but Manolo told him 'tranquillo', as he realized his rider's Tour de France was over.
Appaently Beloki's rear wheel came off on a patch of hot road surface, up to 50° Celsius. The Spaniard broke his right femur in two places, as well as his elbow and wrist.
That was basically the end of Beloki's career. He signed with Brioches La Boulangere for the 2004 season, but switched to Saunier Duval-Prodir mid-season. He went back to Manolo Saiz' team, called Liberty Seguros-Würth, in 2005, and finished 75th in the Tour de France. The next year, he ws implicated in the Operacion Puerto affar and withdrawn from the Tour.
The leaders are climbing well here and working together, Kiryienka is doing the lion-share of the work though.
Aerts comes over and takes the maximum points at the top
The Caisse rider has now dropped back to the team car and gets some food from the car. Nice mullet action going on there, obviously inspired by Karpets.
Rather more impressively he's just stuffed an entire banana into his mouth in one go.
Not sure impressive was the right word.
Back to Beloki, for a second, it's worth pointing out that he was cleared of all involvement some time later.
The bunch are climbing steadily, the gap now just over ten minutes. Ryder Hesejdal is taking a drink.
Cancellara is still on the front for Saxo Bank. The Astana boys are close to the front as well but Pineau is at the back of the bunch and wont be going for any points on this climb.
Pineau is loading up on bottles now. I make that five, now six.
The bunch are close to the top of the climb now, the gap still over ten minutes.
Cadel Evans sitting comfortably in the bunch, with his team around him. Basso close to him right now.
The stage ends in Gap, which has been visited 19 times previously. Such riders as Géminiani, Nencini, Bernard, Zabel and Vinokourov have won here. In recent years, stages that have started here have gone on to finish at the Alpe d'Huez, as in 1991 when Gianno Bugno won and 2006 when Fränk Schleck won.
Less than 70km to go now but the gap is still going out. It's at 11.14 now. Nice easy day for the riders in the bunch - except for that frantic start.
Who will win from this group?
The final climb of the day is a long way from the finish but we could see a few riders dropped from the lead six.
However, there is an uncategorised climb close to the finish that could cause problems. Perhaps someone will use that as a launchpad for a winning attack? Right now the leaders are working well together but sooner or later the harmony will come to and end.
Meanwhile, Schleck is going back to pick up bottles. The pace is easy enough for him to do so, and he's just keeping his legs ticking over by riding back up to the bunch.
Bouet drops back to his team car now, not happy with his radio for some reason.
Special Breschel now comes to the front and the Saxo boys are having a bit of a chatter. Glorious scenes over the French mountains. Perhaps that's what they're talking about.
Col du Noyer is the next climb on the menu, a Cat 2 climb that could cause some problems for both the break and the main field.
Pineau, who was struggling on the last climb, is back with the race doctor now. He's having his arm bandaged again.
Aerts is now back with his team car, the gap still at just over 11 minutes.
Rolland pours a bottle over the back of his neck and then comes through and takes a turn on the front.
While O'Grady makes an appearance at the front of the bunch.
Who are you tipping for the win today? Let me know at twitter.com/dnlbenson. It's going to be one of the six riders at the front of the race, but which one?
Can France claim their first Bastille win since 2006?
The leaders are climbing again and Aerts comes to the front, gets out of the saddle and swings off.
Rolland is possibly the biggest threat today. He can follow wheels on the climbs and is very strong. Kiryienka has a track background and won a stage in the Giro when he was at Tinkoff. I'm sure Aerts has won a semi-Classics before, perhaps Fleche, Paolinho is perhaps the best climber here while Bouet is the wildcard here.
Onto the last climb of the day for the bunch now and Sorensen is on the front now as Saxo Bank continue to lead things.
Bouet, with his jersey unzipped takes a pull on the front as Aerts again calls for his team car.
Thanks for all your tweets. Mixed opinions on who you think will win. Many of you picking Aerts and the Radioshack climber. Paolinho posted a rather interesting tweet himself a few days ago. Try and dig it out if you have time. It was posted on the rest day.
Speak of the devil, Paolinho takes a pull on the front and then moves to the back of the lead group.
Taylor Phinney was with the Shack team this morning. He'll be riding for the team for the rest of this season, then turning pro next year.
As we're picking today's winner, let's ask the rest of the CN crew who they're going for...
Laura Weislo: "It's Bastille Day - I predict Rolland will win and Bouet will work with him."
Barry Ryan: "I'll go for Aerts."
Peter Hymas: "hmmm....I'm going with Paulinho."
Rabobank have moved a couple of men to the front of the bunch now, trying to make sure that Menchov and Gesink are well protected no doubt.
Susan Westemeyer: "I'll take kiryinka."
And from Twitter: nightwol @dnlbenson My tip for the winner from the break must be Rolland - French win on Bastille Day mandatory!
The gap is down under 11 minutes now as the bunch spread across the road. They're really just rolling along now, no meaningful chase after the brutal day we had yesterday.
A bit of knowledge for you: Today's stage starated in Chambery, for only the second time. A stage had started here also in 1996. The Criterium du Dauphine Libere has visited more often, 20 times to be exact. And it was here that American Greg Lemond won hs world championship title in 1989.
The leaders look tired now, still on the cat 2 climb, there are a few gaps showing but nothing major. Aerts is driving things along.
Bouet is starting to struggle, he's about a bike length off the back now.
Saxo Bank come through and get some bottles from the side of the road as the AG2R gets back on to the leaders.
Again, great crowds out today, even though the temperatures are so, so high.
The gap is back to over 11 minutes now.
As Bouet again starts to lose ground. He's struggling now, looking down to see how many gears he has but he's totally blown as Aerts drives things on. Right, Rolland, France expects you to win. No pressure.
So five riders now in the lead but Bouet isn't giving up. he's maybe 25 meters down on the others. 1km until the summit.
He's made such a effort today, first bridging over to the leaders in the first part of the race and then working hard in the break. If he can just keep the five leaders in sight he should make contact on the descent.
Great job. He's back on.
A very, very tricky and technical descent coming up. Aerts is still leading.
Aerts takes the points. Now the dangerous descent. They dont need to take any risks here.
Bouet has to take a foot out of the pedal, almost losing control of his bike.
They're not going crazy down here but it's a very fast section. Just rolling down without any effort.
O'Grady back on the front of the bunch as the peloton wind their way up the climb.
The bunch are 1km from the summit of the climb.
Slight rise for the leaders now before the rest of the descent. Bouet again in trouble but he's hanging on. Moreau nips away from the bunch in order to gain some points. Not sure if there are any points left though...
The bunch are on the long descent now. No risks today.
Bouet takes a bottle, he's still at the back of the lead group. I wonder if he has anything left in the tank.
Remember, there's that rise just before the finish. We'll see an attack there, for sure.
Four out of five riders are still working, Bouet, just sitting in.
Rolland and Bouet have a chat at the back of the bunch with 20km to go.
Still on the descent for the six leaders, they've got a slight headwind so it will be tough to get away.
And Bouet is off the back again. He's out of the saddle and gets back on again.
Rolland looks around to make sure he's there. France want that win.
Bouet takes a drink, he's not done a turn for a long, long time now.
Rolland drops back and talks to Roux. He knows what it takes to win a stage in the Tour de France. Rolland nods, and moves back to the leaders.
Rolland might want to wait for the sprint today but he'll need to match any attack first.
An Aerts attack you might say.
Bouet gets dropped, that's it for him. Aerts has been strong today but he's brought back and the man from Quick Step goes.
Aerts pops and so does Rolland so it's up to Paolinho and Kiryienka to do the chasing.
Devenyns tried this kind of thing in the 2009 Giro, but it didn't quite work out for him - the stage to Benevento
Devenyns is pushing hard but Paolinho goes right by him and again the Caisse rider has to chase.
Only a small gap for the Shack rider
Kiryienka gets back and tries to attack but cant' get a gap. Is it a two-man battle?
Devenyns Aerts and Rolland are gone.
It's two against three now, Bouet totally out of it as Kiryienka drives on at the front of the race
33 seconds for the duo. French team at the front but no French rider in line for a Bastille Day win.
Paolinho just sitting in for now. That little rise we talked about earlier, we'll here we go..
And Paolinho comes through and takes a turn.
Kiryienka doesnt want to hang around and he's forcing the pace at the front.
A very fast descent, lots of technical corners as well. Melted tar on the road.
Kiryienka again pushing things, he's not hanging around here.
it's a two man battle for the stage now. There's nearly a minute between the two groups.
Just 5km to go now.
Such a hard descent for these two, they're doing an amazing ride.
And Roche has attacked from the bunch.
The Irishman has around 200 meters on the bunch.
Bold move from Roche. Will he spark action behind him?
Fairly flat run-in now for the two leaders. Both of them sharing the work.
Paolinho looks back but they've got over a minute now.
Less than 2km to go now and Paolinho drifts to the back. He comes through, will he have to lead things out?
Just 1km to go now.
Kiryienka comes through. Not sure why, he didnt have to do that.
The Caisse rider looks back,
he moves to the center of the road, loooks back again. and here we go.
Paolinho goes for it and it could be his.
Kiryienka is coming back though and it's going to be close,.
Paolinho takes it. Just
Aerts leading in for third.
Devenyns takes third, Rolland and then Aerts.
Here comes Bouet.
Over to Barry to finish things off for today.
Saxo Bank are controlling things back in the peloton on the descent into Gap. Shades of the stage to Spa last week, although they're certainly correct in doing so today.
Nicolas Roche (Ag2r) is the next man in. He slipped off the front of the peloton in the closing kilometres. Rémi Pauriol (Cofidis) has done the same to show off the Cofidis jersey on Bastille Day.
Pauriol comes in a shade under 14 minutes down.
The peloton arrives in at 14:20 and Mark Cavendish takes the sprint ahead of Alessandro Petacchi and Thor Hushovd. Hushovd will hold on to the green jersey tonight.
Provisional stage result:
1.Sergio Paulinho (Radio Shack)
2.Vasili Kiryienka (Caisse d’Epargne) s.t.
3.Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) at 1:29
4.Pierre Rolland (Bbox) s.t.
5.Mario Aerts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) s.t
Provisional overall standings:
1. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
2. Alberto Contador (Astana) at 0:41
3. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel) at 2:45
4. Denis Menchov at 2:58
5. Jurgen van den Broeck (Omega Pharma) at 3:31
Thanks for joining us for today's stage. Tomorrow the race goes from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence. Expect a break to go clear early on, perhaps on the Col de Cabre and the run-in to the finish should be a white-knuckle pursuit between the escapees in front and the sprinters' teams behind.
The full report and results from today's stage as well as a selection of photography will be online soon, and there will be the usual in-depth analysis and news from the peloton on Cyclingnews between now and tomorrow's live report.
Thanks for joining us.