Bonjour and welcome back to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Tour de France. Today's 10th stage is from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo. It is cuts north across Brittany and is expected to end with a sprint finish.
Today's stage is 197km long and dips and rolls through the gentle Brittany countryside. However there is only one Cat 4 climb after 142km, meaning Pierre Rolland (Team Europcar) can enjoy a quiet day in the climber's polka-dot jersey.
The sun is out in Brittany but fortunately for the riders the temperatures have dropped from 30C of yesterday to a more comfortable 23C.
After the first rest day of this year's Tour de France, the riders will be fresh and ready to race again.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) wears the race leader's yellow jersey. He leads Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) by 1:25. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) is third overall at 1:44.
The sun is out at the start but the wind could be a factor today. The finish comes after a loop of the Pointe de Grouin headland, meaning a sea breeze could cause echelons. Positioning for the sprint will also be vital.
The riders are currently in the 2km neutralised section. When the race director drops his flag the action can begin. Allez!
A total of 182 riders started today, with 16 riders missing from the 198 that began the Tour in Corsica.
And we have a first attack.
Jerome Cousin (Team Europcar), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansolile) and Julien Simon (Sojasun). quickly jumped away and already have a lead of more than a minute.
Simon is from Brittany and so naturally keen to enjoy a day in the action and hope for a stage victory.
193km remaining from 197km
Simon is from Brittany and so naturally keen to enjoy a day in the action and hope for a stage victory.
192km remaining from 197km
The break is now over two minutes clear. The peloton is happy to let them go away and enjoy some time in the spotlight.
None of the five riders are a threat to Chris Froome race lead. Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel) is best placed overall but 1:03:19 back, in 93th place on GC.
183km remaining from 197km
The five has more than 4 minutes as Team Sky ride on the front of the peloton to keep the gap from growing too much.
It will be interesting to see how much chasing Team Sky is willing to do today. Team manager Dave Brailsford hinted at a change in tactics after the team's bad day in the Pyrenees.
With Geraint Thomas still suffering with a fractured pelvis and without Vasili Kiryienka, the team needs to save its strength for the Alps. They may leave much of the work up to the sprinter's teams.
Indeed, we hear that the sprinters teams are now helping the chase, with Lotto Belisol and OPQS working on the front.
172km remaining from 197km
After a fast start and an average of over 44km/h, the break now has 4:40.
We have special video content from every day of this year's Tour de France. In this video, Omega Pharma-Quick Step directeur sportif Brian Holm reveals his five favourite riders of all-time. Check it out.
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For an informed preview of today's stage, check out this video we produced with former Tour de France rider Magnus Backstedt.
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162km remaining from 197km
The sprinters teams are continuing the chase of the break but the gap has now reached five minutes after a fast opening 35km of racing.
150km remaining from 197km
The gap is holding at around five minutes. The peloton is not letting the five riders gain too much time.
147km remaining from 197km
The peloton is playing cat and mouse with the breakaway, with the gap falling to 4:40 after 50km of racing.
The head of the peloton includes Lotto Belisol, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Team Sky riders. Chris Froome is safely in sixth position.
David Lopez is doing most of the work for Team Sky. Argos-Shimano is also doing some work.
132km remaining from 197km
Chris Froome has gone for a classic look in yellow. He has kept his black team issue shorts, with just a yellow helmet, SRM power metre and saddle.
The riders are about to pass through Louison Bobet's home town of Saint-Méen-le-Grand. Bobet was one of the greats of the fifties, winning the Tour de France in 1953,1954, and 1955.
All is quiet back in the peloton, with riders enjoying the relatively quiet day. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) is hanging near the back of the peloton.
The Movistar team is also wearing yellow helmets today because they lead the team competition.
The pace has slowed in the second our of the stage, with an average of 36.5km/h. There is a headwind blowing and more wind is expected in the final 20km of the stage.
The peloton is close to passing through the feed zone in Saint-Meen-le-Grand, the birth place of 1950s great Louison Bobet.
The power data - not sure how they figure it - indicates the peloton is putting out a whole 3 watts more than the breakaway. They're averaging around 280W - if you're Marcel Kittel, that's nothing. If you're Nairo Quintana? That's a lot of watts. Let's hope the young Colombian is sitting in.
The Argos-Shimano team seems to believe that Kittel has a good chance today, and are taking responsibility for holding this breakaway at 4 minutes, together with some gentlemen from Lotto Belisol, looking to get Greipel another stage win.
All of our big sprinters have had one stage win, but it's Peter Sagan who has dominated the green jersey competition. But Mark Cavendish said he's not giving up hope of taking his second career points title. You can read about it here, and see a video of his special bike.
A little bit about our breakaway riders: Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel) became a sort of Cyclingnews folk hero back in 2008 when he attacked stage 12 of the Tour de France, and in the year previous when he completed all five of cycling's monuments.
Julien Simon (Sojasun) is a bit of a one-day specialist as well. He won the GP de Wallonie last September, which was his last victory. He also took out two stages of the Volta a Catalunya in 2012, but has yet to put a Grand Tour stage win on his palmares.
Interestingly enough, Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) and Juanjo Oroz (Euskaltel) were tweeting to each other just this morning, and now they're in the breakaway together. Perhaps they planned this at the start of the day?
Mate was congratulated today on Twitter because he extended his contract with Cofidis through 2015.
Jerome Cousin is in the breakaway again, he spent some time up the road in the first stages. He had a great start to the year by winning the third stage of Etoile de Bessèges - he led the race for three stages, but ultimately finished second overall to Sojasun's Jonathan Hivert.
Vacansoleil's Lieuwe Westra has spent quite a few kilometers in breakaways this year. In the Tour of California, he went on the attack on the first stage and came away with the stage win and race lead on a very hot day in Escondido. He's complained about the heat and lack of air conditioning in the south of France, taking to Twitter to say, "Hot! After my career as a cyclist I will go into the aircon trade in France that's for sure pffffff"
82km remaining from 197km
The riders have covered 115km of the 197km stage. The break is still hangout front with a 3:30 lead.
Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) is keen to have a go in today's sprint finish.
"It's a flat stage but not that straight forward," he said before the start.
"I hope to be up there. Everyone is in good spirits after the first week. We're carry on doing the best we can and hopefully it'll be a good second week for us."
Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) is also keen to have a go in the sprint:
"We'll ride off the strongest lead out teams and try and do something. There's the creme de la creme of sprinters at the Tour but we'll give it a go," he said.
We're coming up to the intermediate sprint. The five breakaways will sweep up most of the points but watch for a sprint behind. Cannondale is already massing on the front.
The breaks rolls under the sprint banner. We can expect more aggression from the peloton and the big-name sprinters.
We stand corrected. The break was at the 1km to go point..
Mate actually jumped away in sight of the line to take the glory and the prize.
Behind the whole Cannondale team is on the front of the peloton but Cavendish is on Sagan's wheel.
The speed is rising.
This was a full on sprint. Sagan lead it out but Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) came up the barriers to win it. Sagan took second with Cavendish third.
66km remaining from 197km
The break has turned onto narrow roads now. This could get interesting for the peloton.
Peter Sagan has extended his lead in the green points jersey to 243 points. Greipel is a distant second with 151 points.
Greipel picked up 10 points for his sixth place, Sagan took 9 points and Cavendish 8.
The riders have just passed through Calorguen. It is now Bernard Hinault's adopted home town and his wife is the mayor.
The riders are still fighting a headwind and the current expected time of arrival is 6:00pm local time.
It's time for the only climb of the day.
Westra has taken off to cross the line first at the top of the Cote de Dinan.
50km remaining from 197km
The breakaways are trying their hand now. They've upped the pace and are working together much better.
The gap has now gone up to 2:40 but Lotto Belisol is leading the chase.
It seems that Greipel and Kittel will both have 54x11 gears for the sprint. They will need them, the finishing straight is slightly downhill.
42km remaining from 197km
OPQS rider Jerome Pineau is doing a long turn on the front.
The pace is rising and so is the tension in the peloton. The riders are worried about the change in direction, when the head wind will become a tailwind.
The road hits the coast with 26km to go and then turns left with 18km to go.
36km remaining from 197km
With 36km to go, the overall contenders will want to near or at the front to avoid any problems. However the sprinters will also want to be at the sharp end and some teams might also want to try and split the peloton.
Several teams have sent staff members to look at the finish. Robbie McEwen is Orica-GreenEdge's sprint strategist. Team Sky's manager Dave Brailsford is now also looking sat the flat cobbles of the final metres and seems concerned about a grid that is just 20 metres from the finish.
McEwen was rarely afraid to have a go in a sprint and take a few risk, but in a video for Australia he described the finish as dangerous.
30km remaining from 197km
The gap is melting with 30km to go. The headwind is blowing strong, pulling on the Breton flags.
Cyclingnews has exclusive video content from the Tour de France thanks to Laura Fletcher.
She got a chance to see inside the Lotto Belisol bus. Watch the video here.
Oroz jumped from the break but was quickly pulled back by the other four. They are starting to feel the breath of the peloton on their necks.
Are you ready for some finale fireworks? The tenth stage is about to come alive as the peloton hits the coast.
Chris Froome is near the front, well protected by Team Sky teammate Ian Stannard.
Saxo-Tinkoff is working on the front to protect Alberto Contador. Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Leopard) is also staying out of trouble near the front.
Nico Roche leads around a corner but his teammate loses his wheel.
The peloton is on a 800m climb through the village. The turn left comes just after and then the change in direction will mean there is a tailwind.
Here come the Dutchmen of Belkin. They know how to form an echelon.
A few riders go down as the peloton split around a roundabout.
Flecha was caught in it but seems ok. However the tension will be even higher in the peloton.
Westra sits ups and is caught. The other four breakaways will be caught soon.
Team Sky is on the front, protecting Froome.
Another crash. Tuft of Orica goes down with what looks like Bauer of Garmin-Sharp.
Contador is also near the front as the speed touches 50km/h.
The coast is stunning but the riders have no time to enjoy it. There noses are glued to their bars as they pedal hard.
Garmin-Sharp and Argos-Shimano are also up front protecting Dan Martin and Marcel Kittel.
15km remaining from 197km
The break is about to be caught.
The four are being blown along by a tailwind but they have little chance of escaping the peloton.
Polka-dot jersey wearer Pierre Rolland (Team Europecar) is at the back. but is being helped back on.
It seems that the Garmin-Sharp rider that crashed was Andrew Talansky and not Jack Bauer. We're not sure if the young American managed to get back to the peloton.
Jerome Cousin (Team Europcar) is leading the break, to hold off the peloton.
David Millar is doing a huge turn on the front for Garmin-Sharp.
10km remaining from 197km
Perfect calculations by the peloton to catch the break with 10km to go.
8km remaining from 197km
The roads is slightly downhill, lifting the speed to 60km/h.
Simon has one last dig but the peloton can almost touch them.
7km remaining from 197km
However no one teams wants to use their riders so far from the finish to catch the breakaway.
The tide is out in Saint-Malo but the sprinters are ready for the finish.
5km remaining from 197km
That's it, Tony Martin lead the peloton up to the break, with Simon the last to accept defeat.
Orica-GreenEdge take it up. They are riding for Goss today.
4km remaining from 197km
Now it's Saxo-Tinkoff versus Omega Pharma. Argos-Shimano there too. Where is Lotto?
Here they come, on the right of the road, to force other teams to ride in the side wind.
2km remaining from 197km
The road is almost dead straight now. Here's Hansen.
It's Lotto versus Argos in the leadout.
It's a fight for Greipel's wheel.
an Argos-Shimano riders goes down and disrupts the sprint.
Cavendish touched shoulders with him, while upfront Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel fought for the win.
It's close but the photo finish shows that Kittel gets it. Greipel is second with Cavendish third.
The race judges will no doubt want to look at the video footage of the crash.
Kittel explains that it was Tom Veelers who crashed after tangling with Cavendish.
The crash caused lots of other riders to hit the breaks and so split the sprinters.
The overall contenders all finished okay and so Chris Froome (Team Sky) retained the yellow jersey.
Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finished fourth and so keeps his green points jersey.
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) punched the air on the podium as he collects the cheers for his stage victory.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) also enjoys his podium moment.
Froome will start last in Wednesday's 33km time trial from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel.
That's it for today's Cyclingnews live coverage. We'll have a full report, a huge photo gallery, news and interviews on the site very soon.
The judges have yet to rule on the late crash but we will have any decision on Cyclingnews if and when it is made.
Join us on Wednesday for further live coverage from the Tour de France. We will again cover every moment of the racing. A bientot!
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