Jul 13, 2014

Tour de France Stage 9 Review/Stage 10 Preview

Stage 9 Review

Stage winner: Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
On a day for the breakaway, Martin was the strongest man, winning by a large margin with his time trial prowess. Martin was solo for nearly 50 km and before that was in just a two man group over the mountains. Once it hit the flat and Martin was away with no dedicated peloton to chase, just a group of a little over 20 riders, the result was easy to figure out.

Yellow Jersey: Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol)
It might only be for a day, or it could last until the Alps, but Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) gave up the yellow jersey and the responsibility that comes with it for his team. That alone could help him have more men as the finish than he did on stage 8 when he had no help at all. For Gallopin, it is a dream come true to wear the jersey as a Frenchman on Bastille Day as he will now do.

Green Jersey: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
For the first day in this Tour, Sagan scored no points at all as the breakaway was big enough to absorb everything at the sprint point during the stage and Sagan was safely in the main peloton at the finish. Still, none of his rivals scored points either so Sagan keeps his commanding lead.

King of the Mountains: Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
Considering Martin did not contest the first climb of the day and was beaten by breakmate Alessandro de Marchi (Cannondale) one three climbs, it is amazing that he now has the jersey. Still, he is unlikely to keep it for long as a tomorrow’s stage has even more points on tap and star climber Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) seems to be targeting the jersey as well.

White Jersey: Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
No changes here. Only three men are within five minutes of Kwiatkowski: Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) at 13”, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) at 1’06” and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) at 4’08”

Tactical Masterclass: Astana
Getting rid of the yellow jersey and the responsibilities that come with it, even for just a day, is a big deal. Astana no longer have to lead the chase and Nibali got an evening that did not include signing jerseys or a podium presentation.

Tactical Blunder: Everyone who wanted in the break except Alessandro de Marchi
Really? You let Tony Martin get loose on his own on the flat without an entire peloton to chase? And you thought this was a winning idea. Did you not watch stage 6 of the Vuelta last year when Martin nearly beat the entire peloton from a 173 km solo break? Letting him get away was a bad idea for the stage hunters.

Stage 10 - Mulhouse - La Planche des Belles Filles

Expectations entering the stage: GC shootout on the slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles. In addition, the King of the Mountains race shifts into full gear with one of the highest point days in the race. The last time the race came to La Planche des Belles Filles, Chris Froome took the stage win over teammate and yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins and Nibali. That stage was very different from this one as the stage was mostly flat until the final climb. This stage is not that one with crazy climbs lurking everywhere.

Jersey’s in play
  • Yellow Jersey - Nibali managed to get rid of the yellow jersey. He might very well reassume it here. Two years ago, Gallopin lost 1’44” on the finishing climb to Froome. An equal amount to Nibali this year and Nibali is back in yellow and this stage is much harder than the one two years ago.
  • Polka Dot Jersey - Martin only leads by one point and only had 18 points total. Someone could easily take more than 18 on their own on this stage and Martin is unlikely to be in the break again on this stage.
  • White Jersey - Kwiatkowski has not climbed particularly well since the Ardennes races in April. This will be a big test for if he really is a white jersey contender this year. If not, Pinot and Bardet could be battling it out against each other.

GC items of note: There is the possibility of an attack ambush on this stage from further out than the final climb. The rest day is Tuesday so everyone can go all out without risking the future. Garmin-Sharp and Andrew Talansky would be great candidates for this except they have been so successful in recent years with the tactic that nobody is letting them get anyone up the road tomorrow, even with Talansky having struggled with crashes thus far.

Stage Pick: Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo)

Contador will sprint away from Nibali in the final meters on the 20% gradient, just a Froome did two years ago. That won’t equal much of a time loss though and Nibali will be safely back in yellow after Gallopin falters.

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