Valverde Wins Stage 10 of Tour; Armstrong Retakes Yellow Jersey
Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) has won Stage 10 of the Tour de France.
Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) has won Stage 10 of the Tour de France. Valverde took a two-up sprint from Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) to win the mountainous, 181-km ride from Brignoud to Courchevel in 4:50:35. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) outsprinted Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) at 0:09. Armstrong has reclaimed the maillot jaune .<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Today?s stage was shortened by 11.5 km when farmers protesting wolves killing their livestock blocked the start. At six km, Laurent Brochard (Bouygues Telecom), Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r), Samuel Sanchez (Liberty Seguros), Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel), and Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo) sallied off of the front. The peloton let the escapees go, and they ran up a nine-minute lead by 65 km.
The bunch began to pursue. Credit Agricole led the charge, and the fugitives? advantage was reduced to five minutes at the base of the Category 1 Cormet de Roseland. Stefano Garzelli (Liquigas), Jorg Jaksche (Liberty Seguros), Oscar Pereiro (Phonak), Mancebo and Valverde (both from Illes Balears), Oscar Sevilla (T-Mobile) attacked, and the peloton split, with maillot jaune Jens Voigt (CSC) being in the second group. Discovery Channel took over from Credit Agricole.
On the descent, Brochard attacked his companions. With 54 km left, the former world road race champion led Sanchez, Isasi, Bortolami, Krivtsov, and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) by 0:20; Pereiro and Jaksche by 2:40; and the maillot jaune group by 4:55. With 40 km remaining, Pereiro and Jaksche joined the five chasers.
Discovery Channel upped the tempo, and Voigt slid back. Krivtsov was dropped when he punctured, and Brochard was dropped. Attrition took its toll, and eventually, only Pereiro and Jaksche were left. At the base of the climb to Courchevel, the Liberty Seguros rider dropped the Phonak man. Jaksche led the maillot jaune group by 3:50.
Discovery Channel set an infernal pace up the climb. With 10 km left, only Armstrong, Ivan Basso (CSC), Rasmussen, Cadel Evans (T-Mobile), Valverde, and Mancebo were left in the maillot jaune group, which overtook Jaksche. An acceleration by Mancebo dropped Evans. With eight km left, Armstrong attacked and dropped Basso and Mancebo. Two km later, the Spaniard got back on.
In the last km, Rasmussen attempted to get away, but Valverde and Armstrong took his wheel. With 450 m left, Armstrong attacked, but Valverde, a climber who can sprint, powered past the defending champion with 100 m left.
In the overall, Armstrong leads Rasmussen by 0:28 and Basso by 2:40. Stage 11 could shake up the standings even more. The 173-km run from Courchevel to Briancon will feature the Hors Categorie Cols de la Madeleine and du Galibier and the Category 1 Col du Telegraphe. The riders will breast the day?s last climb, the Galibier, the highest point in this year?s Tour at 2,645 m, 40 km before the finish. Will anyone attack on the Galibier? If so, who will it be? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!