Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Tradition says that a native son of France is supposed to try his best to win the stage of the Tour de France that falls on Bastille Day, July 14--France's premier national holiday.

So, Pierre Rolland and Jerome Pineau of France were in a breakaway group that pulled away from the peloton early in Stage 10.  The breakaway group would stay clear of the peloton on the last day in the Alps.  The main group of riders seemed completely disinterested in chasing down the escapees--none of which were a threat to the GC (overall) standings.

However, there's another tradition on Bastille Day.  It's that as hard as a Frenchman will try to win the day, a son from every other nation will try just as hard to steal the show.

And that's what Sergio Paulinho of Team Radioshack did.  The Portuguese rider outkicked his breakaway companions at the line to grab the glory for the day.  It is Paulinho's first Tour de France stage win and the first stage win for Team Radioshack, the team Lance Armstrong put together after last year's Tour de France.

The best-placed Frenchmen for the day: Pierre Rolland crossed the finish line in 4th place.  Perhaps more importantly, Jerome Pineau battled to the crest of several mountain passes during this stage to reclaim the Polka-dot Jersey designating its wearer as "King of the Mountains."

Looking ahead

The Tour leaves the Alps and makes its away across the southern section of France.  It will cross a mildly hilly area called the Central Massif.

The next several stages will be opportunities for sprinters to duke it out over the last few kilometers to claim wins and points toward the Green Jersey.  Currently, Norway's Thor Hushovd wears the maillot vert, but clings to it by only a few points.  Italy's Alessandro Pettachi and Great Britain's Mark Cavendish are both vying to wear it by Tour's end.  If the points are close, it could be a blood bath on the Champs Elysees on July 25.

All the pre-race speculators said this Tour de France would be won in the Pyrenees.  These mountains offer steep, hot climbs on the border between France and Spain.  The Pyrenees will greet the cyclists this weekend and again on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.  Each of these stages look withering.
Who knows what inspirations and humiliations the Pyrenees peaks will produce?  Stay tuned.

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