Le Tour 2019 - Stage 10


Well, that was a mistake… Yesterday I wrote that today’s stage would like be sedateish. It was anything but. I thought the riders would be winding down for tomorrow’s rest day, and to be honest - I wasn’t the only person to think that… A few GC contenders were caught out as well, and this included Richie Porte, Thibault Pinot, Jakob Fuglsang, and George Bennet.

There are some riders, especially some the Belgian and Dutch riders who know how to ride in a crosswind. And today, some of these riders were at the front smashing it. For certain Alaphilippe who seemed to be most prominent and who is neither Belgian or Dutch (he’s French, but riders on a Belgian squad) was smashing it on the front along with most of Team Ineos.

At the line, the GC contenders who weren’t in the front group lost a sizeable chunk of time (over 1:30). In essence today’s stage has caused more damage than the first set of mountains. As an aside Wout Van Aert won a fantastic sprint, but today was really about the GC (and there are going to be some very annoyed riders tonight).

In cycling, perhaps, unlike athletics, there are a variety of factors which affect overall results. Race results don’t just rely on actual fitness (at least in road races) you can be equally (or indeed even fitter) as fit as others in a road race, but if you read it wrongly, it can all go wrong. I’m not sure where the majority of GC riders were today and whether they’d perhaps ‘switched off’ thinking not much would happen but once that gap opened it was ‘full gas’ by the leading peloton to open up the gap.

Being able to ride in a cross wind and riding in an echelon is a skill that not many amateurs master. It’s not until you get to being a pro are you really likely to end up in an echelon (unless you perhaps live in Belgium or Holland). Learning to read the wind, and working out where it’s coming from and which side you need to shelter on is an important part of racing. It’s also worth remembering that once you’re spat out trying to close the gap to the leading peloton is extremely difficult… In a race always be aware.

Richard Stern