The Tour de France action resumes after Monday’s rest day with another day in the mountains. The Alpine stage from Morzine les Portes du Soleil extends 148.1 kilometers to the village of Megève.
The village was the first purpose-built resort in the Alps, having begun its evolution after the Rothschilds banking family became disenchanted with the Swiss resort of St. Moriz in the 1910s and started spending time skiing there. Over 100 years later, it is world famous and first hosted the Tour in 2016.
The Tour peloton faces a saw-toothed day, with four categorized climbs providing plenty of scope for breakaways and also for the general classification riders to try to exploit any weaknesses.
“This stage features breath-taking mountain scenery, especially when it runs alongside Lake Geneva before heading towards Megève,” the Tour’s race director Christian Prudhomme states. “The route winds its way through a series of valleys and should culminate with a battle between the race’s strong men from the one-kilometer banner. The finish line is located at the altiport like on the Critérium du Dauphiné 2020.”
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In addition to being targeted by regular breakaway specialists, the stage could also prove a launching pad for the likes of Wout van Aert, who is on the hunt for intermediate sprints points for the green jersey competition. The Belgian is far more adept on challenging terrain than many of the other sprinters, as evidenced by his victory over Mont Ventoux in last year’s Tour.
Van Aert has shown his willingness to get stuck in on multiple points in this year’s race, such as his long-range move on stage 6 to Longwy and his involvement in the break on Sunday’s ninth stage. He gobbled up maximum points in the intermediate gallop and bolstered his lead in the race for the maillot vert.
While he is unlikely to be threatened by closest rival Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep AlphaVinyl) on the hilly days, Van Aert will be conscious that race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is now third overall in the green jersey classification, just ten points behind Jakobsen, and is likely to keep collecting high stage placings between now and Paris.
This makes grabbing intermediate sprints on stages such as these all the more important for him.
However chasing big points on Tuesday’s stage will be more difficult for Van Aert than Sunday’s stage was. On that occasion the intermediate sprint was after just 56.5 kilometers; on stage 10, that point comes after no less than 123.8 kilometers. From there just 24.3 kilometers remain until the finish line.
The stage begins with a 16.6 kilometer descent before the start of the category four Côte de Chevenoz (km 24.1). This will be followed by the category three Col de Jambaz (km 69.2) and then the shorter Côte de Châtillon-sur-Cluses (km 97.3), with that early rolling terrain providing opportunity for any escape to try to gain a time buffer.
The final climb starts soon after the intermediate sprint. The ascent of Montée de l’alitport de Megève is 19.2 kilometers in length and averages 4.1 percent in terms of its gradient. The steepest pitch comes right at the end and, if the day’s break has been reeled in, could see another clash between Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard for the bonus seconds.
David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is predicting possible fireworks.
“The return to racing will be difficult tomorrow,” he said on Monday’s rest day. “Many riders have got this stage marked as one where the breakaway can go all the way to the finish. I wouldn’t discount the favourites from going to war on the last climb either.”
One who could add to the drama is Vingegaard’s teammate Primož Roglič, providing the rest day has given him some relief from his injuries. Only 11th overall as a result of the time lost due to his crash on the cobblestone stage plus his injuries since then, a fully-recovered Roglic would be an important boost to Jumbo-Visma’s Tour hopes, particularly if he can start to claw back some of the ground he has lost.
Either way, though, Vingegaard will look for any opportunity to put Pogačar under pressure.