Nine stages and the first rest day are behind us. 1343.8 km into the Tour de France, we have finally reached the Mountain Stages. Stage 10 is a 167 km long route which starts in Tarbes and finishes atop La Pierre Saint Martin, a mountain top finish.
The stage consists of four categorized climbs. Three of them are category 4 climbs which should not pose too much of a problem. The final climb is a Hors Category (it is tougher than a category 1 climb) to the finish at an altitude of 1540m.
The stage consists of an intermediate sprint, 124 km into the stage. Expect to see the teams lead their sprinters for this. It is possible that even Cavendish, Greipel who struggle in the mountains to be in the thick of the intermediate sprint, as long as their team can pace them well and they have the stamina to keep up. Sagan, will need to finish ahead of Greipel if he is to hold his Green Jersey.
After the intermediate sprint, the teams should be forming on their main contenders before the third Category 4 and final, Hors Category climb. The Tour de France is always won in the mountains. Today’s climb can really split the General Classification if someone is caught.
Quintana will be the biggest name to watch out for. Compared to his rivals, he is the most powerful mountain climber of the lot and it will be a challenge to really match his pace. Nibali will also want to regain time, as he had the worst opening week compared to his rivals.
There will be other names to watch out for. Rodriguez and Vuillermoz have won the Tour’s first hilltop finishes already. The other dark horses in the Tour including Uran of Etixx-Quick-Step, Thibaut Pinot and Perud will want to push themselves up the rankings with strong finishes.
Every rider who aims to finish on the podium on Paris, crack up in the mountains, their dream is over. The time gaps that can be opened here, could easily be 2 or 3 minutes (not 2 or 3 minutes in a flat stage!)
The King of Mountains Jersey will come to life now with many categorized climbs and Mountain climbing points up for grabs.
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