Rain, strong winds, 45kph average for winner Matthews (OBE) and intense racing already from the initial Port d'Envalira -ceiling of the 2016 TDF- mark stage 10 of 'Grande Boucle' for Nairo Quintana and Movistar Team; Colombian remains 4th overall
Should an unbiased, not-so-expert spectator have just looked at the finish of stage ten in the 2016 Tour de France -197km starting at Escaldes-Engordany (Andorra) and finishing in Revel-, he or she would have judged the bunch just cruised for thr whole today. And that wouldn't have got further from reality: all riders got back into work in a very harsh way today, as all ingredients collided. There was intense racing into the Port d'Envalira (Cat-1), crested at over 2400m above sea level. Rain and stress due to the pursuit pace by IAM and Direct Energie, halfway through the course. And even some sections of side winds before the run-in into the the Côte de St-Ferréol (Cat-3) and the finish. The Movistar Team still covered well Nairo Quintana all day long, so the Colombian could keep his fourth place overall, 23" behind Chris Froome (SKY).
Ahead of them was a fifteen-rider breakaway with lots of power. Gorka Izagirre was close to playing a predominante role in it, as Sagan (TNK) created the first selection with 25km to go. The Basque rider was left behind the seven-man winning group by just a few meters -other big names, like Rui Costa (LAM) or Vincenzo Nibali (AST), were already trailing by far more- and was forced to sprint for 9th place across the line, which he got three minutes after Michael Matthews (OBE) came victorious across the line. "We lost all chances into that little climb. Wind was picking up, I was behind the group by just a couple of meters… I just lost sight for a moment, it was bad luck. It's awful; legs were so good today. I'm disappointed, but this is what you get."
The Tour de France convoy will tackle on Wednesday what could be the flattest route before Paris, a 162.5km sprinters fest between Carcassonne and Montpellier before the Mont Ventoux looms on Thursday.
Tour de Pologne kicks off
While the lads directed by Chente and Arrieta continued chasing their #SueñoAmarillo in France, the 73rd edition of the Tour de Pologne started on Tuesday with a 135km parcours between Radzymin and Warsaw. The Polish capital received Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo, Alex Dowsett, Rubén Fernández, Dayer Quintana, Rory Sutherland, Fran Ventoso and Giovanni Visconti with a seven-lap, 13.8km city course.
Spaniard Fernández (15th) was the top Movistar Team performer at the finish -a nine-second split separated the first 40 and the rest of the field- and kept the José Luis Jaimerena / José Luis Laguía-led group at the front in a fast, dangerous ride over slightly wet surface. Davide Martinelli (EQS) took a late attack to fruition and yellow jersey in the opening day of a course that will face a long transfer to the south before stage two tomorrow -153km from Tarnowskie Góry to Katowice-.