Though the crosswinds did stir at times to cause anxiety in the bunch, the sprinters had their anticipated gallop yesterday and will hope for another opportunity on Stage 11 too. Totalling 167.5km from Châtelaillon-Plage to Poitiers, the day features a solitary categorised climb in the form of the Côte de Cherveux around the halfway mark, before plenty of rolling terrain into the finish itself. There is the risk of gusts causing problems if they do come to fruition, yet the likelihood is another sprint finish in Poitiers before the race heads back into the mountains.
The concluding kilometres feature plenty of drags which could cause gaps if those seeking to disrupt the sprinters’ trains apply some pressure late on. However, with the final 2km being nearly flat and the finishing straight 1.2km in length, it would take a huge effort to deny the fast men another shot at glory.
It was an incredibly close finish which denied Caleb Ewan another stage win yesterday, especially impressive after having survived, what appeared to be, a gruelling time in the Pyrenees. Despite lacking a convincing lead out train, Ewan did a brilliant job of positioning himself perfectly and waited (perhaps too long) for Bennett to open up the sprint. Once again today’s sprint is likely to be a headwind, which clearly favours the Australian far more than his rivals and combining this factor with a better timed sprint could see him back atop the podium.
A huge weight has been lifted from Sam Bennett as a result of his victory yesterday, finally securing his Tour de France maiden stage win and completing a trio of grand tour victories which even his compatriot Sean Kelly did not succeed in matching. The hope will be that wins come more easily now, or at least his sprinting returns to instincts, rather than the self-doubt which has hampered him as of late. Once again, he will need to be well positioned throughout the day to avoid any splits, hitting the final drag at the front of the race and seeking to perfectly time another sprint against a headwind to victory.
Glimmers of form appear to be emanating from Peter Sagan and he could prove a real danger on today’s parcours, especially if deploying his Bora Hansgrohe teammates to deal out the hurt yet again. He did not enjoy the ideal run to the line due to being boxed in somewhat, though the turn of pace he demonstrated shows he should be a threat to the podium if better placed.
Though it has been repeated numerous times already, it is clear that Cees Bol has the best lead out train at this year’s race, but did suffer another error in the finale yesterday which caused his sprint to suffer. Today’s offering is a good fit for the Dutchman, both in terms of the rolling terrain and power focused finishing straight, which hopefully his team can successfully capitalise upon to secure the win.
It will be interesting to see who the Trek-Segafredo lottery picks as the leader on Stage 11, especially after Mads Pedersen produced two incredible efforts yesterday, one to bring Richie Porte into the lead group and the other to contest stage honours. Perhaps it is time that Edward Theuns is given another shot at the win?
Elia Viviani enjoyed a good performance from himself and Cofidis yesterday, potentially coming into form after dealing with a foot issue during the opening week.
André Greipel also got himself in the mix after enduring a knee problem during the previous nine stages of racing and will suit the long run to the finish line.
If the day is blown to pieces by the wind or Bora’s efforts for Peter Sagan, then Wout van Aert is the joker in the pack and is bound to be given the chance to complete a hat trick of wins if Primož Roglič is safe late in the day.
1st Sam Bennett 2nd Caleb Ewan 3rd Cees Bol