Ambush in the Alps? Tour de France stage 10 preview

Stage 10:  Morzine Les Portes du Soleil to Megève

Date: July 12, 2022

Distance: 148.1km

Stage timing: 13:30 - 17:15 CEST

Stage type: Hilly

There will be plenty of heat on the road to Megève, but it remains to be seen how much light stage 10 will shed on the outcome of this Tour de France. The first instalment of a potentially pivotal Alpine triptych is also the most benign, and logic says Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and the podium contenders will be cautious about throwing themselves onto the offensive on this 148.1km leg from Morzine.

And yet, the first stage after a rest day is always fraught with ambush potential, and Pogačar’s strength to this point means that his closest rivals – namely Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers – might be tempted to avail themselves of their strength in numbers on an afternoon like this rather than try to take him on in a head-to-head contest on the Col du Granon or Alpe d’Huez later in the week.

The possible vulnerability of the UAE Team Emirates squad and Pogačar’s apparent dislike for soaring temperatures are avenues that are worth exploring, too, even if the yellow jersey was bullish about the strength of his supporting cast during Monday’s rest day. “We’re in pole position now and we can control things, it’s easier for me and the team so for me it’s fine to be in the yellow jersey now and I hope to keep it all the way,” he said.

Pogačar begins Tuesday’s stage with a buffer of 39 seconds over Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), with Geraint Thomas (Ineos) third at 1:17 and Adam Yates (Ineos) a further eight seconds back in fourth. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) has managed to tread water since shipping time on the cobbles, and he lies 11th at 2:52 as the race resumes.

The medium mountain stage is a gentle introduction to the Alps ahead of the rigours of Wednesday and Thursday. Going north from the start, the peloton will climb the fourth-category Côte de Chevenoz and descend to Lake Geneva before turning south in Thonon-les-Bains.

On the way south, riders have to ascend the third-category, 6.7-kilometre Col de Jambaz and the fourth-category Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses. The descent to Cluses is followed by a 24-kilometre false flat to the intermediate sprint in Passy-Marlioz, and the long, but not extremely steep climb to the Megève Altiport begins soon afterwards.

It’s 21.4km from the start of the climb to the finish line, but for much of that distance, the gradient isn’t very hard as it climbs in ramps separated by flatter sections. The first seven kilometres rise by up to 6.7%, then there is a shallower climb of, at most, 3.5% to the town of Megève and even a short flat section in the town itself. After Megève, two kilometres climb at 7 and 6.5%, respectively, before the climb flattens out again. Another 6.2% ramp will take the riders to the category-two mountain sprint 2.2km from the finish line. The next two kilometres are relatively easy again, but the last 500 metres to the Megève Altiport climb 7.1%.

This stage is almost ideal for a breakaway and not very well-suited for a fight between the GC favourites as the finishing climb has many shallower sections where dropped riders can come back. Pogačar, however, has been reluctant to allow breakaways too much leeway so far on the Tour. Logic says the break should stay clear, but the GC men may yet find themselves contesting stage honours and bonus seconds in Megève.

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Barry Ryan
Head of Features

Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.

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