Highlights from today's action (00:40) (video still via @nttawwt)
9 Big Photos from Stage 10sirotti

Stage 10 Results

General Classification after Stage 10:

Full Results (click on "Stage Standing") —
Cavendish goes long to claim third stagecyclingnews
  Last 3 Km (03:28 dutch) — nos
high-res victory salute
Despite rider and team concerns, race radio ban goes aheadvelonews
  Stage 10 Highlights (02:06) — eurosport
  Last Km (01:00 no commentary) — eurosport
 Cavendish scoort een hattrick in de
  Lance: "Sporza, I Missed You" (Rapprochement between Sporza and Astana) —
Cycling’s Biggest Prize Is Eluding Evans Once Againnytimes
Graham Watson Stage 10 Photosgrahamwatson
Snail Footage ie The best race footage (00:40) — courtesy of snail tv
9 Big Photos from Stage 10sirotti
  Stage 10 Recap/Highlights (03:12) —
Pro-Radio’s Missed Opportunity: Those favoring the use of radios couldn't have blown it any more badly — cyclocosm
  ITV stage 10 podcast with Matt Rendell, Paul Sherwin and Chris BoardmanITV
World in motion: The Lance Armstrong Show dominates Tour de

Post Stage Analysis

Cavendish Makes It Three
Piano peloton protests radio ban, Nocentini continues in Yellow

Mark Cavendish won his third stage of this year’s Tour de France today in Issoudun. The British sprinter accelerated off the wheel of Mark Renshaw, and won the sprint by a solid two bike lengths. Thor Hushovd, who still leads the Points classification, followed the British sprinter’s wheel to the line, and finished second. Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Slipstream finished third. Rinaldo Nocentini continues to wear the Yellow Jersey of race leader.

The Story or, Why Did the Snail Cross the Road?

A break of four riders escaped early in the stage, and included Samuel Dumoulin of Cofidis, Thierry Hupond of Skil-Shimano, Mikhail Ignatiev of Katusha, and Benoît Vaugrenard of Français des Jeux. Hupond initiated the escape after the race slowed for a railway crossing and was soon joined by Ignatiev and Vaugrenard. Well-practiced in joining the daily escapes, Dumoulin soon bridged and it was four riders at the front. The main field never gave them much for than a three minute advantage, but it proved enough to keep the break out in front for nearly the entire stage. Over the first categorized climb, the Côte de Salvanet, Ignatiev took the points, while the Hupond took the points over the Côte de Bénévelent l’Abbaye.

Of course, the main story today was the Great Radio Debate. The race organizers banned the use of two-way radios between the riders and the team cars for this stage. The riders proved less than enthusiastic about the decision and showed their displeasure by riding as slowly as possible for much of the stage. The television cameras picked up an image of a snail crossing the road, the iconic image of today’s stage. Ignatiev, whose Katusha team opposed the ban, sat on the break for much of the stage and did not contribute to the work. Behind, AG2R-La Mondiale and Rabobank rode a leisurely tempo on the front. The result was a deadly boring day, as the Tour moved at the speed of snail mail.

Inside 30 kilometers to go, the gap held around one minute, and the sprinters teams began to consider racing their bikes. Columbia, Milram, Quick Step, and Liquigas-Doimo all began to move to the front. But the gap continued to hold. The pace proved sufficient to send Kurt-Aisle Arvesen off the back. Arvesen crashed, possibly due to turbulence from the race helicopter, and finished the stage with a broken collarbone. The Saxo Bank rider is not expected to start tomorrow.

With ten kilometers to race, the gap had dropped to 33 seconds, and the breakaway’s long day out had nearly come to an end. Inside 4 kilometers to go, Ignatiev attacked the break, but Dumoulin proved quick to shut him down. After sitting on the break for most of the day, Ignatiev’s move was not in the best of taste. But it’s a bike race, not a tea party. It didn’t amount to much anyway, and the break was soon back together with the main field bearing down upon them very quickly.

Hupond made a last gasp attack inside 2 kilometers to go, but the Columbia train had the situation well in hand, and the sprint was now inevitable. It was a technical finale today, and Nicolaï Trussov of Katusha hit the barricades on the sharp right hand bend inside the final kilometer. No worries for the Columbia riders, though, and they delivered Cavendish to his usual position at the front of the sprint. Renshaw dropped off a bit early today, but Cavendish proved up to the task, perhaps helped by the slow tempo of the day’s racing. Thor Hushovd positioned himself perfectly on the wheel of Cavendish with Farrar behind him. But neither Hushovd or Farrar could come around, and Cavendish won by nearly two bike lengths.

Cavendish celebrated by holding up his green sunglasses. He explained after the stage that he was signaling his desire to take back the Green Jersey from Thor Hushovd. Hushovd’s second place today keeps him in the lead for now. Asked about his legs after the Pyrénées stages, Cavendish said, “I was okay, I needed the rest day yesterday.” He credited his team, “the team rode well, they were determined. They delivered me perfectly.” Today marked the 44th professional victory for Cavendish and his seventh career Tour stage win.

General Classification Update

Here is the current top ten:
Rinaldo Nocentini AG2R-La Mondiale
Alberto Contador Astana :06
Lance Armstrong Astana :08
Andreas Klöden Astana :54
Levi Leipheimer Astana :54
Tony Martin Columbia-HTC 1:00
Bradley Wiggins Garmin-Slipstream 1:01
Christian Vandevelde Garmin-Slipstream 1:24
Andy Schleck Saxo Bank 1:24
Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas-Doimo 1:54

A small gap opened up in the finale today in front of Simon Spilak of Lampre-Ngc in 53rd place. The 15 second gap led both Levi Leipheimer and Bradley Wiggins to drop in the overall classification. Otherwise, the general classification remains unchanged with Rinaldo Nocentini still wearing the Yellow Jersey of race leader. Alberto Contador sits second at 6 seconds, Lance Armstrong is third at 8 seconds.

Other general classification riders: 13) Fränk Schleck of Saxo Bank @ 2:25, 14) Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas-Doimo @ 2:40 15) Carlos Sastre of Cervélo TestTeam @ 2:52, 18) Cadel Evans of Silence-Lotto @ 3:07, 23) Vladimir Karpets of Katusha @ 4:04, 24) Denis Menchov of Rabobank @ 5:17.

Other classifications: Thor Hushovd still leads the points classification, but after his victory today, Mark Cavendish has closed the gap to 6 points. Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, meanwhile, continues to wear the Polka Dot jersey of mountains leader. Christophe Kern of Cofidis is second. The Young Riders classification remains unchanged with Tony Martin leading Andy Schleck and Vincenzo Nibali. Thierry Hupond won the prize for most combative rider today.

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow is another transition stage, and it should end with a sprint. Running from Vatan to Saint-Fargeau, the stage includes two categorized climbs. An early break should go up the road early, but Columbia-HTC will have no trouble setting up Cavendish for another sprint finish.

For more details on tomorrow’s stage, please turn the page.

This stage preview is available in the following languages:

(We are looking for translations in ALL other languages. Please submit your translation with the stage no. and language in the subject title.)

Course Preview

Also follow steephill on Twitter for the latest race info and video updates.

Terrain Type: Mostly flat, with a chance of hills.
GC Importance: Not so much.

Côte de Salvanet 1.8 km, avg. 4.5 %, Catégorie 4
Côte de Saint-Laurent-les-Eglises 2.0 km, avg. 5.3 %, Catégorie 4
Côte de Bénévent-l'Abbaye 1.8 km, avg. 3.4 %, Catégorie 4

This stage begins in Limoges near the center of the Hexagon and runs almost directly North to Issoudun. Along the way, the riders will climb three categorized climbs. Don't get too excited: All three climbs receive a category 4 rating. Four stands for easy. This stage should end in bunch sprint and the final kilometers are flat. The decision by the Tour organizers to ban radio contacts between the team cars and the riders may add a hint of drama to this stage, but it should not significantly alter the outcome.

Famed for the production of porcelain, Limoges has hosted the Tour de France on 13 occasions. The city holds the nickname of la ville rouge, the Red City, because of its leftist political tradition. France’s main trades union, the Confédération générale du travail, originated in Limoges in the late 19th century. The stage finishes in Issoudun, and this year marks the first visit of the Tour to this town in central France.

The most recent visit of the Tour de France to Limoges came in 2004, when it served as the start city for a stage ending in Saint-Flour. Like this year’s edition, that 2004 stage took place on Bastille Day. Richard Virenque won the stage in Saint-Flour after a lengthy breakaway, in which he dropped his companion Axel Merkcx and soloed to victory. Merckx later claimed the two had a deal to ride together to the finish. Rule #1: Never make a deal with a French rider on Bastille Day. Thomas Voeckler wore the Yellow Jersey as race leader, as a result of a lengthy breakaway during the first week of racing. Lance Armstrong won the overall in Paris.

Profile Details

This stage crosses terrain wrinkled with small climbs and bumps, but none of them should cause the sprinters’ teams too much difficulty. From the start in Limoges, the first ten kilometers are mostly flat. The first categorized climb of the day summits at kilometer 12.5. The category 4 Côte de Salvanet climbs 1.8 kilometers at an average gradient of 4.5%. It’s a nice warm-up and should serve to send an early breakaway off the front.

The climb plateaus, and approximately 15 kilometers of flat riding follows. Then comes the second categorized climb of the day, the Côte de Saint-Laurent-les-Eglises. The côte climbs 2 kilometers with an average gradient of 5.3%. Coming so early in the stage, this climb should not do much to alter the race situation. The break should be established by now, though no doubt someone will scoot off the front to pick up the mountains points for a little teevee time and a mention in the results list. There remains 166 kilometers left to race.

The second intermediate sprint pops up in Laurière at kilometer 44. After passing over 15 kilometers of slightly descending terrain, the riders will climb the third categorized climb of the day, the Côte de Bénévent-l'Abbaye. The côte, whose name is longer than its distance, lasts 1.4 kilometers and has an average gradient of 3.8%. Nothing to worry about there, and the race should have settled into a steady pattern by this point in the course. From the summit of the Côte de Bénévent-l'Abbaye, there remains 136.5 kilometers to race.

From the final climb of the day, the profile traces a steadily descending profile to the finish. The terrain is bumpy, but not mountainous. There is space here for a breakaway to hide, but the sprinters’ teams should prove able to bring back the escape before the finish. At kilometer 122, there is a second intermediate sprint in the town of Aigurande. The final intermediate sprint comes with 27.5 kilometers to race in Saint-Aoüt. From there, the course descends, passing through Meunet Planches on the way to the flat finish in Issoudun.

There are a few sweeping corners on the way to the finish, and a right-hand bend just before the red kite. Then, it’s a straight shot to the line. The stage finishes on the boulevard Roosevelt and should be a day for the sprinters.

Who to Watch

Today’s stage coincides with the French National Holiday, Bastille Day, on the 14th of July. We can expect to see the French teams and riders animating the stage from start to finish. Certainly, they have a chance to steal the day’s glory from the sprinters on this bumpy ride from Limoges to Issoudun. But it will be far from easy, as the climbs all come early in the stage before it descends to a flat finish. Though the early kilometers favor the escape, the mostly descending finish shifts the advantage to the chase.

By this point, the the sprinters should have established a heirarchy among them. Much depends on how close the margin in the Green Jersey race remains by this point. A close race in the points classification will surely doom the chances of the breakaways. Look for Columbia-HTC to set up Mark Cavendish in Issoudun. Oscar Freire, Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler, Daniele Bennati, and Tyler Farrar will all be looking to derail the Cavendish train and take home the podium flowers. — Gavia

Gavia (updates to this preview will be made during the race and especially the day before the stage with current analysis)<-->