2020 Tour de France stage 10 preview

Stage 10: Île d'Oléron Le Château-d'Oléron - Île de Ré Saint-Martin-de-Ré

Date: September 8, 2020 

Distance: 168.5km 

Stage start: 1:30 p.m. CEST

Stage type: Flat

After the first rest day, the route offers a flat stage which island hops along the Atlantic coast. If the maritime winds blow, it could be a dangerous day. This is the only stage without a single categorised climb on the entire 2020 route. Île de Ré makes its first appearance in the Tour, but Île d’Oléron hosted a stage finish back in 1983.

The North Atlantic Oscillation is a weather system which explains a lot of the prevailing climate in western Europe. It pulls the wind and weather in a westerly direction across the north Atlantic. The North Atlantic Oscillation explains why the Westcountry of England and the Basque Country are so green and it explains why sailing is such a popular sport on the west coast of France. This is a windy spot. Many of the GC favourites may be fearing this stage far more than any of the days in the mountains for this climatology. 

If the westerly wind blows, it could make this a crucial stage. Last year, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was the strongest and most aggressive climber in the race, but it all counted for naught because his team got caught napping on a flat stage to Albi, when crosswinds split up the bunch and he conceded 1:40, more than all but the best climbers on their best form can gain with expensive attacks in the mountains.

This stage goes south from Île d’Oleron, then tackles a large loop before heading up the coast, side on to the prevailing winds to Île de Ré, tracing a shape which resembles nothing so much as a hangman’s noose. An ominous portent for the unvigilant and unprepared.

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