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Tour de France

Tour de France stage 10: Magnus Cort wins in a bike throw in the Alps

Lennard Kämna comes close to yellow jersey but Tadej Pogačar defends lead by 11 seconds.

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Having spent the early days of this year’s Tour de France sporting the King of the Mountains jersey, Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) raced back into the headlines on stage 10 when he took a narrow victory ahead of Nick Schultz (BikeExchange-Jayco).

Spain’s Luis Leon Sánchez (Bahrain Victorious) and American rider Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar Team) were third and fourth. Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) was 11th.

Cort was one of a handful of riders who sprinted for the stage win in Megève, with parts of the day’s breakaway group reforming inside the tough final kilometer after fragmenting earlier on during the final climb in the first of three days in the Alps.

Veteran Spaniard Sánchez put in a big attack with six kilometers to go, and at one point appeared to be heading for the fifth Tour stage win of his career. However he was caught by first the Australian Schultz and then Jorgenson with approximately two kilometers left, after which Cort and five others bridged after the red kite and fought for the victory.

“It is unbelievable. I can’t believe what just happened today,” Cort said, beaming. “This is huge. For me, my type of rider, it can’t be any bigger than this. This is what I can do, chasing stages in stage races, and the Tour de France is just the biggest race. In my first Tour I won a stage. I have been here a few times without, but every year really wanting and trying. It is unbelievable to do it again.

“When we entered the runway and I could see that things were coming back together, I looked up. There was a podium in the corner and I saw the sign of the Tour de France. I told myself ‘this one is mine.’ I just had to take it, no matter the price.”

The UAE Team Emirates squad of race leader Tadej Pogačar allowed the 25-man break enough time for Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) to become virtual yellow jersey, but the gap had sufficiently narrowed by the finish for the Slovenian to hold on at the top.

Pogačar jumped clear of the main group seeking to gain a second or two over his rivals, but while Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) appeared to be briefly caught out, he was able to cross the line close enough behind him to prevent a split.

Kämna ended the day just 11 seconds off yellow, with Vingegaard remaining 39 seconds back but slipping one place to third.

Pogačar’s team manager Matxin Fernandez said that UAE Team Emirates was willing to let Kämna take yellow, but things didn’t quite worked out. The race leader was generous in his praise for the German rider, who came up just seconds short of his goal.

“I admire this guy,” he said of Kämna. “He is proving every year how strong he is. He is really one of the best specialists for breakaways. He is a strong rider, unbelievable, and today he almost took the yellow jersey, which would be really nice for him. But in the end, it went like this.

“We rode our pace for the first part of the climb. Then we set the pace a little bit lower, and the other teams came … they were all over the road, everyone was a bit pushing, and then we were a few seconds [in time] to keep the jersey.”

Action in the Alps

Stage 10 of the Tour de France saw the riders get back into action after Monday’s rest day, lining out in a 148.1 kilometer race from Morzine to the ski resort of Megève. The first of three Alpine stages included four categorized climbs, namely the category four Côte de Chevenoz (km 24.1), the category three Col de Jambaz (km 69.2), the Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses (km 97.3) and the final climb, the second category ascent of Montée de l’alitport de Megève.

This was 19.2 kilometers in length, averaged 4.1 percent in terms of gradient, and had a slope of over seven percent toward the end.

Pogačar had another day in yellow, but was down one teammate when George Bennett was forced to withdraw before the start due to COVID. Another UAE Team Emirates rider, Rafal Majka, was also positive but had a viral load that was sufficiently low to be allowed to take the start.

Also hit by COVID was Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange-Jayco), who was a non-starter.

Various short-lived attacks were fired off early on, including moves by Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroen) and Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), another involving Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), one by Chris Froome (Israel-PremierTech), a downhill escape by Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels), plus efforts by the American Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), and Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-PremierTech).

Nothing stuck and the bunch was still together just after 50 kilometers of racing. Soon afterward Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Sánchez (Bahrain Victorious), Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal), and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-KTM) clipped away and opened a 22 seconds gap. They were subsequently joined by 21 others.

The additions were Kämna, Cort, Bettiol, Schultz, Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar Team), Ion Izagirre and Benjamin Thomas (Cofidis), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), Kristian Sbaragli (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Simone Velasco (Astana Qazaqstan), Hugo Hofstetter, Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic), Mads Pedersen, Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies), Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech), and Jack Bauer (BikeExchange-Jayco).

Of those, Kämna was the best-placed overall of the leaders, having started the day 8 minutes 43 seconds behind Pogačar.

Gaining time, then an unexpected stop

The break was two minutes 25 seconds ahead of the UAE Team Emirates-led peloton ascending the Col de Jambaz with 80 kilometers remaining. Rolland took two points at the top of the climb, one more than Kämna, and took the one available point atop the next ascent, the Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses.

The Frenchman kept the effort going after the top and was joined by Wright, with the two of them leading for several minutes before being reeled in.

Bettiol then kicked clear inside the final 50 kilometers and had a 25-second gap with 38 kilometers remaining. Soon afterward he was forced to stop when several protestors blocked the road. Although Bettiol wriggled through them the race judges deemed the situation too dangerous and neutralized the stage for over 15 minutes.

The Italian was given the same time 25-second gap to the breakaway and over seven minutes to the peloton when the action resumed. With 20 kilometers to go the gap to the chasers was virtually the same, but the bunch had slipped to 9 minutes 22 seconds back, putting Kämna into the virtual yellow jersey.

Chasing yellow for Bora-Hansgrohe

UAE Team Emirates continued riding on the front to limit the break’s gains. For his part, the German rider was doing what he could to try to take yellow and was forcing the pace on the final climb as some of the other riders in the break started to get dropped.

With 15 kilometers remaining Bettiol was 25 seconds ahead of Zimmerman and Wright, who had set off in pursuit, a further 10 seconds ahead of the Kämna group and 9:30 over the peloton.

Benjamin Thomas was able to bridge to the two chasers and these caught Bettiol with 12km to go. The quartet was in turn caught by Van Baarle, Jorgenson, Cort and Velasco but, undeterred, Bettiol jumped clear again with just over 10 kilometers remaining.

Zimmerman got back up to him with slightly more than 9.5 kilometers left, while behind Kämna led a small group up to the other chasers, who in turn reeled in Bettiol and Zimmerman with slightly under eight kilometers remaining.

Sánchez made a big move with six kilometers left and opened up a gap as the other riders watched each other. He had a 10-second advantage with five kilometers remaining, helped by team-mate Wright’s marking of each attempt behind to try to jump across to him.

Jorgenson was however able to get away from Wright and tried hard to close down on the leader. Schultz bridged across to the American, worked with him briefly, then jumped away from him to catch Sánchez with two to go with Van Baarle also bridging across with one kilometer left.

They began watching each other and more riders were able to get across, making it a much larger group to dispute the win. Sánchez opened the gallop while Cort bided his time, then lunged past Schultz at the last moment to take the win.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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