Tour de France Stage 10: Victory for Voeckler
On the first day in the Alps, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) raced away from the remainders of a 25-man breakaway to take the 194.5-km (120.9-mile) Stage 10 of the Tour de France by three seconds. Race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky), meanwhile, easily defended the maillot jeune, checking attacks by major rivals Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing).
Most of the day's excitement centered around the breakaway, as the GC riders rode fairly cautiously. Voeckler, Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), Jens Voight (RadioShack-Nissan), Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) rode away from a 25-man break on the 17-km (10.6-mile) climb of the hors categorie ("beyond categorization") Col de Grand Colombier. With 3.5 km left in the stage, Belgian Devenyns attacked and Voigt went with him. But Voeckler dug deep on the small rise into the finish to pull away from Scarponi and Sanchez and overtake both Devenyns and Voigt. With no more gas in the tank, Voeckler was glad to hold on.
"I was going so slow and kept looking back," he told ITV Sport. "I didn't believe I could win until about five meters from the finish line." Voeckler is in 31st place overall, 22:51 back from the lead, but will tomorrow don the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey.
Wiggins and his Sky teammates Chris Froome and Richie Porte fended off an attack by Nibali on the descent from the Grand Colombier. The Sicilian built up over a minute advantage on the yellow jersey group before being reeled in on the final major climb, the cat. 3 Col de Richemond. Cadel Evans, who started the stage in second place, 1:53 back from Wiggins and promised to attack at every chance, made a last minute dig on the yellow jersey, but couldn't stick it. He finished ahead of Wiggins, but in the same group, so he was awarded the same finishing time.
Tomorrow's 148-km Stage 11 will see more big climbs in the heart of the Alps, including two hors categorie a cat. 2 and—the first mountain finish of the race—the cat. 1 push to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles. Expect the likes of Evans, Nibali, Menchov and Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) to test the so-far ironclad will of Wiggins' Sky team with big attacks.