Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vasseur Gets First French Victory

Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step) won yesterday's stage 10 of the Tour de France.  Surviving with 4 other riders from an original breakaway, he managed to outsprint his companions and just beat Sandy Casar (FD Jeux) across the line by a tire's width.  It was the second career Tour de France stage victory for Vasseur, who last won a stage 10 years ago in 1997.  It was also the third stage victory for Quick Step in this year's Tour and the first victory for a Frenchman;  Casar's 2nd place meant that the French finished 1-2

On a stage directly after the Alps, there was always a high probability that a breakaway would stay away.  Although the stage was relatively flat, two category 3 climbs in the final 30km meant that a bunch sprint was going to be difficult.  Sure enough, Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), the rider who hit a dog yesterday, started the attacks and was soon joined by 10 other riders.  The breakaway eventually built and maintained a lead of between 10-11 minutes over a disinterested peloton. 

As the lead riders crossed the first category 3 climb, attacks by Jens Voigt (Team CSC) and then Patrice Halgand (Credit Agricole) reduced the breakaway down to 5 riders.  In the final kilometers, Voigt, Halgand, and Vasseur all launched multiple attacks but were unable to create a gap.  In the final sprint, Vasseur stayed behind everyone else and waited until the last moment to accelerate.  His sprint was just enough to hold off the fast closing Casar.

For the overall contenders, it was a calm, quiet day in the saddle.  Rabobank rode tempo in front of the peloton for most of the stage, content to let the breakaway go up the road as there was no threat to the overall.  Jens Voigt, the highest placed rider of the breakaway on GC, was 24 minutes behind the yellow jersey of Michael Rasmussen.  In addition, there were no major crashes to report.


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