Monday, 8 July 2013

Tour de France 2013 : Stage 10 Preview

AFTER the trials and tribulations of the mountains, it's time to turn our attentions back to the sprinters.

Stage 10 sees the peloton at the opposite end of the country to the Pyrenees with a 197km route through Brittany from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo.

The profile shows just one Cat 4 climb coming 55km from the finish although there are a couple of uncategorized lumps early in the stage which may prove a springboard for a breakaway.

The last part of the course hugs the coastline and can be described as rolling but shouldn't be testing unless there is a wind coming off the Channel. The final 5 km are pretty straight with just a slight dogleg right with 350m to go to test the sprinters.

A break will be allowed to go early on and while the responsibilities will be on Team Sky to keep it in check, it should be a fairly easy day for them. Once over the Cote de Dinan expect some of the sprinters teams to come and give them a hand in reeling the escapees back.

Favourites for the stage are the usual suspects. Mark Cavendish, Andre Greipel, Peter Sagan, Alexander Kristoff will all be in the mix again. Greipel looks the strongest at the minute but you can never count out Cav. Or Sagan for that matter.

If you want outsiders for the sprint then look to the former race leader Daryl Impey to be involved. He is in great form and I think Orica Green Edge will hand him the opportunity to go for the win ahead of Matt Goss. Euskatel's Juan Jose Lobato del Valle has also been impressive through this race and should gain another top 10 finish here.

If the wind does get up, and the forecast has it coming from the north east which will be behind the field for the last 10km or so, then we could see someone try and jump away from the group along the coast. Juan Antonio Flecha has been very active this year as has his team Vaconsoleil as they attempt to attract new sponsors. A lone attack suits Flecha's style down to the ground and he certainly has the power to back it up. If the peloton hesitate and allow someone like him to go they may miss out altogether.


The Points Classification (Green Jersey)

There is more than one race within the Tour de France. Not everyone can win the yellow jersey so in 1953 the organisers introduced the Malliot Vert for the best daily finisher. The colour green was chosen because the sponsor at the time was a lawn mower producer.

Usually this is a competition for the sprinters. Points are available to the first 15 finishers on each stage and there are more on offer on the flat than in the mountains or time trials.

There is also one intermediate sprint each day which also gains points towards the classification.

So for a stage like today 45 points are awarded to the first man across the line with the rest getting 35, 30, 26, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2 respectively.

For medium mountain stages the winner gets 30 points with 20 points going to the winner of a high mountain stage or time trial.

Intermediate sprints also awarded 20 points to the first across the line.

Last years winner Peter Sagan looks on course to retain his title. He currently holds a fairly substantial lead in this competition, a full 93 points clear of Andre Greipel in second and 106 points ahead of Mark Cavendish in third.

Sagan owes this lead predominantly to his ability to get over mountains and hills better than his rivals and in particular to stage seven. Here he was able to hoover up a full 65 points while his main competitors struggled to get over the climbs and picked up nothing.

It is worth noting that you don't have to win the most stages to get this jersey. Cav won six stages in the 2009 tour and five in 2010 yet finished second in this classification.

And I would expect Greipel and Cavendish to both rack up more wins than Sagan this time around. But nothing, other than a crash and abandonment,  will stop the Slovakian from taking the title again.

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