Now that the riders (and to a lesser extent the viewers) have had a rest day to recover from the weekend’s furious racing, we move onto Stage 10 of this year’s Tour…another sprinter friendly stage. Which, we actually think is no bad thing right now as another climbing, mountainous, ultra fast stage would do nothing for the peloton’s overall state of mind.
Although a sprinter’s stage, we’re seeing a reduced peloton in terms of actual sprinters. Demare (and three of his teammates!), Sagan, Cavendish and Renshaw are all missing, which could mean that FDJ, BORA and DDD all choose not to chase a breakaway – and they may even help to form one. If that were the case then there’s only a handful of teams that will be willing to chase it down.
Though they also have a reduced team due to Trentin missing Stage 9’s time cut, QuickStep will be ever present on the front of the peloton because if Kittel is well rested he’ll probably win on the flat finish. Team Sunweb will be riding hard for Michael Matthews to ensure he consolidates his brilliant riding over the climbs of Sunday’s stage as he slowly eats into Kittel’s lead in the points classification and they’ll also want to make up for Barguil’s narrowest of losses on the line against Uran.
Greipel is only 30 points short of Matthews’ second place and Katusha still have Kristoff in the game. Along with Colbrelli’s Bahrain Merida, these teams will most certainly form a concerted chase to reel in a breakaway and if it does all come back together then everyone should stick on Kittel’s wheel. What we can say for sure is that the intermediate sprint at 121km will be fought for as hard as the stage win. Expect full gas from at least QuickStep, Sunweb and Lotto Soudal.
With two cat 4 climbs the breakaway probably won’t be interested in the KOM points, as Warren Barguil’s lead in that classification won’t be troubled today. He’ll be saving his legs for the juicier climbs toward the end of the week.
So, while a breakaway could outlast the peloton if teams don’t want to chase it down, we don’t think it’s highly likely. What we’ll be watching closely is the battle between Matthews and Kittel, and we’re going to go against our own advice here and go against Marcel, as we think Sunweb will have their lead out for Matthews nailed for this stage as he cruises to a spoke’s width of a win (which turns out to be a big margin in this year’s Tour).
1. Michael Matthews
2. Marcel Kittel
3. André Greipel