Cycling

DANGER ON AND OFF THE ROAD

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THERE were plenty of ways to get into trouble as the Tour de France resumed after its first rest day, reports cycling expert JOHN TREVORROW:

THE big news before the start of stage 10 was all about Covid. Christain Prudhomme, the boss of the Tour de France, had tested positive along with one staff member from each of four teams, Ineos Grenadiers, Mitchelton Scott, Cofidis and AG2R. All five had to leave the race.

The good news was that no riders tested positive. But the four teams now risk being excluded from the Tour, under the “two strikes and you’re out” protocol if they have another positive test within seven days.

Prudhomme’s positive test has now raised concerns as he hosted the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, at last Saturday’s stage to Loudenville, taking him in his race director’s car and accompanying him at the award ceremonies at the stage 8 conclusion.

According to Reuters, Castex will now undergo further testing for COVID-19. “They were both wearing masks and respecting social distancing,” a representative for Castex said.

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With all that stress out of the way the stage got under way. Starting on the Ile-d’-Oleron and finishing on the Ile-de-Re the stage connected two islands along the Atlantic coast. But for many the stress was just beginning. Huge crowds, very aggressive racing and, I’ve got to say, ridiculous amounts of road furniture. France has the most roundabouts and traffic furniture in the world, and today there were crashes galore.

I watch most big bunch finishes with a degree of nostalgia and jealousy, but not on Tuesday night. Riders could not relax for one minute as the 200 strong peloton sped around traffic islands and dived into ridiculously narrow village streets.

I watched with bated breath for the first crash and it didn’t take long. Kiwi debutant Sam Bewley went down with Mitchelton-Scott teammate Esteban Chaves and a large group in the side winds. The little Colombian was able to continue as were the rest of the group except for a devastated Bewley. His good mate, and my Detour Live co-host, Dan Jones texted him. “I’m gutted Bro – busted arm, busted rib,” Bewley texted back from the hospital.

Twelve riders required X-Rays after the stage, with Italian David Formolo (UAE Team Emirates) a crucial teammate for one of the main contenders Tadej Podacar having to withdraw with a fractured clavicle.

I was impressed when the peloton eased the pressure when a huge crash with 65 km to go took down some of the main GC contenders including Podacar. It showed that riders are concerned with the ever increasing number of obstacles being added on to really tricky race routes.

In the end all the big guns were at the front and firing and produced one of the best sprints so far. Tour debutant Sam Bennet (Deceuninck-Quickstep) was rewarded for his consistency this year and snagged a very tight win over Aussie pocket rocket Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) who hesitated just one moment too long. The Irishman claimed his first ever Tour stage victory, adding to his stage wins in the Giro and Vuelta, and reclaimed the green sprinters jersey from Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) who finished third.

Australian GC contender Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) managed to stay clear of all the carnage and finished safely in the peloton to remain 11th at 1min 53 seconds.

Stage 10 results

1Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep03:35:22
2Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
3Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
5Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
6André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
7Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
8Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
9Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
10Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott

GC after stage 10

1Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma42:15:23
2Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers00:00:21
3Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:00:28
4Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:00:30
5Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:00:32
6Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:00:32
7Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates00:00:44
8Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott00:01:02
9Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team00:01:15
10Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:01:42
11Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:01:53
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Author: John Trevorrow

JOHN TREVORROW is a multiple Australian champion road racer and Olympian who has been doing media commentary at the Tour de France for more than 20 years.

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