The mountains may be looming in the Tour de France as Thursdays showdown on the high roads nears but today saw the opportunity for a showdown between other great rivals of the Tour on the transitional stage. Andre Greipel bagged his first win at the Tour but perhaps making it even sweeter was the the fact he put his old team mate Mark Cavendish to the sword and proved to the world of ycling that when given the opportunity he can come through.
Following dramatic stage 9 and the first rest day, today's stage linked Aurillac to Carmaux over 161 lumpy kilometres, with two 3rd cat. and two 4th cat ascents, with the last, Côte de Mirandol-Bourgnounac (4th cat.) just 15 km from the finish.
Immediately after the start shot, five Frenchmen, Di Grégorio, Minard, Vichot, El Farès and Delaplace, and an Italian, Marcato, took off in spite of the incredible pace: 51 km within the first hour !
The gap never passed 3'30", and they never had a chance for the winner's bouquet.
Nearing Côte de Mirandol-Bourgnounac, the end of the escape wa s in sight, and once again, the Omega Pharma – Lotto teamwork operated. Jelle Vanendert took the peloton in tow before Philippe Gilbert attacked, followed without an y help by five more riders, to catch the remainder of the break. They had the peloton close behind, so Phil attacked alone in the final.
The Belgian champion fought like a Champion but was eventually caught, and the finish was destined to be contested between the great sprinters of the Tour. With most backing the Brit Cavendish to take win number three it was to be the giant German André Greipel taking a super win ! Cavendish and Rojas completed the podium.
No change with the main jerseys: Thomas Voeckler keeps yellow, and Philipe Gilbert is still in green.