Nibali Takes Stage 10 of Tour de France, Retakes Yellow Jersey
Circumstance and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) have blown open the Tour de France. Circumstance took the form of a crash that took the Italian’s main rival, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank) out of the race, and Nibali did the rest. He surged away from a chase group, caught and dropped Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), and soloed to victory in Stage 10. Nibali won the mountainous, 161.5-km ride from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles in 4:27:16. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) finished second at 0:15, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) outsprinted Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) for third at 0:30. Nibali has reclaimed the maillot jaune after being out of it for a day.
The hostilities began early. Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Markel Irizar (Trek), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Amael Moinard (Cofidis), Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) jumped clear in the opening km, and Rodriguez, Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura), and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) joined the break soon after. Later, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) towed teammate Michal Kwiatkowski to the escape.
On the descent of the Category 1 Col de Platzerwasel, Contador struck a pothole and crashed. Team personnel bandaged his right knee, which was bleeding, and provided the two-time Tour winner with a spare bike. Five teammates attempted to pace Contador to the maillot jaune group, but after 15 km, the Spaniard embraced teammate Michael Rogers, dismounted, and entered the Tinkoff-Saxo Bank team car. Contador has been diagnosed with a fractured tibia that will require surgery.
On the Category 1 Col des Chevreres, the day’s penultimate climb, Martin dropped off of the pace, and Kwiatkowski attacked. Rodriguez caught and passed the Pole, who was also caught by Visconti and Moinard. On the descent, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider overtook Rodriguez, and the pair led Visconti by 0:14 at the base of the climb to the finish.
At the base of the climb, Rodriguez and Kwiatkowski led the Nibali group by 1:30 and maillot jaune Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) by about four and a half minutes. With 5.3 km left, Rodriguez dropped his companion and went for the stage win. Two km later, the Katusha man led Kwiatkowski by 0:28.
The Nibali group bore down on Kwiatkowski. It consisted of Nibali, Richie Porte (Sky), Valverde, Chris Horner and Rui Costa (both from Lampre-Merida), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol), and Tejay van Garderen (BMC). With 2.3 km left, Nibali attacked.
With 1.2 km left, the Italian caught Rodriguez. The Spaniard took Nibali’s wheel, but the Astana man attacked with less than a km left to win the stage.
In the overall, Nibali leads Porte by 2:23 and Valverde by 2:47. Tomorrow will be the Tour’s first rest day. Riders and team directors will rest and plot strategy for the coming stages. On Wednesday, the field will tackle Stage 11. The hilly, 187.5-km ride from Besancon to Oyonnax will feature four categorized climbs. It will not change the standings, but the four climbs will be in the last 40 km of the stage. The stage is one for stage hunters. Who will win? Gallopin? Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge)? John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!