Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany - Revel, 197km
A transition stage...in which we transition.
What's It About?
It could be about any number of things. For a start, it's about getting us out of the Pyrenees and towards Bédoin. It's also about giving a large number of riders a chance at stage glory. It's also about cocking a snook at the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, and giving it to a tactically pointless category one climb in another country. It gets us out of Andorra, too, and brings us to Revel. On that note, chocolate anyone?
This stage finish has been used a few times before, with Alexander Vinokourov getting a nice finisseur win in 2010, and
Salvodelli Savoldelli winning from a huge break five years earlier.
AmyBC's Food and Wine Pairings
Each stage we bring you suggestions regarding the local fare from AmyBC. Check out her blog Winebookgirl for more.
Wine: Rouge Gorge (Cyril Fhal) 2010 VdP des Côtes Catalanes Blanc (Maccabeu)
From Selection Massale Cyril works a variety of mostly old vine, north facing parcels on gneiss around his hometown of Latour de France. He has long been one of the leading proponents of Biodynamics in the South of France, as well as championing traditional blends and grapes that often aren't allowed in the AOC. He works entirely by hand (or horse) in the vineyards (it would be impossible to work them any other way, given the steep slopes) and his work in the cellar is the same, foot stomping and then mostly traditional vinification (he does blend a small amount wine done cold carbonic to tame the wines a bit and preserve some of their freshness, something he thinks is sorely lacking in so many wines from the region).
Food: Bethmale cheese
A goat milk cheese that hails from the Couserans region of the Comté de Foix in the Pyrénées mountains of Southern France.
Culture, the cheese magazine, tells me that: Mention of Bethmale cheese dates back to the early 12th century, when Louis VI of France tasted it during a visit to the region. At the time, it was described as 'the fat cheese of Saint-Girons', a description that could still apply today since, when cut, the interior paste glows with fat and is distinctive for its horizontal slits.
I'd call the Souvenir Henri Desgrange a pretty significant feature. It's a long twenty-two kilometres, but is at only five and a half percent. Anyway, you can't expect any attacks if it peaks at one hundred and seventy-three kilometres from the finish.
There's then a sweeping descent before a long, long, long stretch of flat and two climbs at the end of the stage. The second of them, the Côte de Saint-Ferréol, is a category three, nearly two kilometres long at an average of six and a half per cent.
In reality though, it's much harder than that, with stretches at sixteen per cent, flatter bits, and a plateau at the top. Jan Ullrich even saw fit to attack here in 2005, so it's not a foregone conclusion that the sprinters' teams will just zoom over it before a bunch finish.
The finale of the stage has two ninety-degree turns in the last kilometre, but it’s not the worst we've seen.
Riders to Watch
Well, I'd like to introduce you to the startlist. There's a good chance that this is one for the break. In which case, how about Cummings, Lutsenko, Valgren, Bakelants, Martens, Vichot, Huzarski, Maté, Albasini and Perichon? Any of them could go in the early move to chance their arm near the end of the stage. However, this is a stage where Bryan Coquard has a good chance, and Direct Energie will want to chase down the move on the front, where they have been for a good portion of the flat stages. Tinkoff as well are badly in need of something to do after Contador disappeared, so should pull for Peter Sagan.
In 2010, Mark Cavendish made it over the Côte de Saint-Ferréol to sprint for second behind Vinokourov, so he should fancy his chances at a win here, even with a tough couple of days in the Pyrenees in his legs. I don't fancy either of the German pair to make it though, and after the rest day, it's difficult to tell how any of the sprinters have recovered.
I could go on all day about who might attack late on — Julian Alaphilippe is a possibility, or even Dan Martin if he still wants to pretend he's going for stage wins, but I doubt either will after the Pyrenees. Etixx just might want to stay hidden, to hide that other thing they just might have up their sleeve. Tony Gallopin also could have a go, this is a good stage for him. The same goes for Edvald Boasson Hagen.
But in the end, I expect a sprint mostly between Sagan and Coquard for supremacy in Revel.
Pick to Win
I'll go for Coquard. Direct Energie don't deserve to have their noses in the wind for nothing.