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Tour de France 2019: Wout van Aert sprints to victory on Stage 10 as key GC riders lose time

George Smith
15 Jul 2019

Some teams take advantage of the crosswinds to gain time on rivals as Wout van Aert springs to Stage 10 victory at the 2019 Tour de France

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) outsprinted the likes of Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) to take the win on Stage 10 of the 2019 Tour de France. A cyclocross rider beating the best sprinters in the world should really have been the day's biggest news, the main story was happening behind where many riders saw their hopes of overall victory disappearing up the road as splits in the peloton saw riders such as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) lose over a minute.

After a tame day for the riders, attacks in the wind led to large gaps opening up splits in the peloton separating the GC riders, while Van Aert timed his sprint to perfection beating out Viviani on the uphill drag into Albi.

Exciting stage ahead of the first rest day

Today’s stage, before the first rest day tomorrow, saw riders tackle four categorised climbs over 217.5km from Saint-Flour to Albi with sprint points on offer a little over half way.

With this edition of the Tour de France marking 50 years since Eddy Mercxk’s first victory, today specifically marks half a century since the Belgian’s unbelievable victory in Mourenx where The Cannibal tore the peloton apart, attacking after the Col du Tourmalet to eventual finish eight minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

In contrast, the yellow jersey at the start of the today, Julian Alaphillipe (Deceuninck-Quickstep), began his morning by telling reporters that he was preparing to lead out teammate Elia Viviani ahead of a likely sprint finish.

Nonetheless, with the exploits of the weekend’s breakaways in mind, from the flag drop numerous riders battled to form a breakaway and make it stick.

After a few failed attempts, Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie), Natnael Berhane (Cofidis), Odd Christian Eiking (Wanty Gobert), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin) and Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) successfully made it off the front, to be joined shortly after by Michael Schär (CCC).

With 22km down they were shortly met by the day's first climb, the Côte de Mallet, with Berhane leading the group over the top, scoring the swing mountains classification point on offer. By doing so he moved himself up to fifth in that competition - still some way behind current polka dot jersey wearer Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal).

The Eritrean national champion subsequently took two more points on the second climb of the day, the Côte de Chaudes-Aigue. Eiking took the one point on offer, crossing the Category 3 climb in second.

The breakaway reached the third climb, the Côte d’Espalion, around two and a half minutes ahead of the bunch, where Berhane made it a clean sweep taking the two points on offer ahead of Eiking who again took one.

Shortly after, as the bunch sped downhill on their way to the climb in Espalion, Argentine champion Max Richeze (Deceuninck-Quickstep) hit a new top speed for this year’s Tour: peaking at an eye-watering 96.7kmh.

After playing second fiddle to Berhane on the climbs, Eiking sprinted away from the break - amid some dirty glances from those not contesting - to take the maximum of 20 points at the intermediate sprint.

With no real sprinters amongst them, Turgis followed through in second for 17 points and Würtz Schmidt third for 15. Gallopin, Schär and Berhane - the rest of the breakaway - also didn’t contest and took 13, 11, and 10 respectively.

When the main bunch came through, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) raced ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who sat up upon realising no one had followed the pair, to take nine and eight points each. Michael Matthews picked up four and stays second in the competition for the green jersey.

With the roads thinning and fear of the potential for wind damage in the peloton’s mind, multiple teams continued to drive the pace along, slowly eating into the breakaway’s lead. As the sextet hit the final categorised climb of the day, the Côte de La Malric, the gap had been slashed to 35 seconds.

Yet over the course of the Category 3 climb, the gap was re-extended to almost two minutes as Berhane made it a perfect day and took the final two points on offer in the KOM competition, again ahead of Eiking who took one.

As choppy winds became a reality, the peloton stretched and split into three constituent groups amid notable attacks from Education First and Deceuninck-Quickstep - with George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) finding himself in the third group, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) in the second.

The front group, including Team Ineos duo Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal, Movistar pair Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Romain Bardet (AG2R-la-Mondiale) and Steven Kruijswick (Jumbo-Visma) swallowed up the break with a whimper and continued to hammer it on the front, widening the gap to the Pinot group to 44 seconds and rising after it initially fell to only 14.

Also at the front of the race were Sagan, Viviani, Matthews, Ewan and Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), vying to gain position for a sprint finish while letting the GC teams put in the work at the head until the 3km mark.