Mercado Wins Stage 10 of Tour; Dessel Takes Yellow Jersey
Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) has won Stage 10 of the Tour de France.
Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel) has won Stage 10 of the Tour de France. Mercado took a two-up sprint from Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) to win the mountainous, 190.5-km ride from Cambo-les-Bains to Pau in 4:49:10. Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) took third at 0:56, and Dessel took the yellow jersey. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
From the start, the racing was aggressive. After a couple of abortive sallies, Mercado, Dessel, Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step), Carlos Da Cruz (Francaise des Jeux), Jens Voigt (CSC), Geert Steegmans (Davitamon), Christian Moreni (Cofidis), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Landaluze and Inaki Isasi (both from Euskaltel), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Daniele Bennati (Lampre), Christophe Rinero (Saunier Duval), and Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom) escaped at about 40 km.
At 50 km, the break led the bunch by about 1:30. Initially, T-Mobile rode tempo, but the German squad stopped doing so to force another team to work. The other teams would not chase, and 10 km later, T-Mobile returned to the front. At this point, the break's lead was 7:00.
Six km from the summit of the hors categorie Col du Soudet, Mercado and Dessel were all that remained of the break. Behind, T-Mobile continued to pace the peloton, which was 9:00 in arrears. Yellow jersey Sergei Gonchar (T-Mobile) was at the back of the bunch, while Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), whose climbing legs were thought to have returned, slid out of the back.
At the base of the descent, Landaluze and Rinero rejoined the leaders. Isasi, Moreni, and Vasseur got back on later. With 57 km left, the septet led the yellow jersey group by 10:42.
Halfway up the Category 1 Col de Marie Blanque, Mercado attacked and dropped everyone except Dessel. With 25 km left, Landaluze got within 0:05 of the leaders, but they accelerated away from him. One of them would win the stage.
But which one? Mercado asked Dessel to let him win the stage because Dessel had already secured the yellow and polka dot jerseys. Dessel declined the request because, unlike Mercado, he had never won a stage of the Tour. During the run in to Pau, Mercado sat on Dessel?s wheel.
With 250 m left, Dessel made his move. Mercado fought his way past the Frenchman for the win. The peloton ambled home at 7:23.
In the overall, Dessel leads Mercado by 2:34 and Gonchar by 3:45. Stage 11 will produce a change of race leadership. The 206-km ride from Tarbes, France to Pia-de-Beret, Spain will feature one hors categorie and four Category 1 ascents, including the climb to the finish. This stage will separate the contenders from the pretenders in this year?s Tour. Who will finish in the running for overall victory? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!