Stage 10 of the 2015 Tour de France was scheduled to be the time when the real push for the mainllot jaune was to begin, and last night it didn't disappoint.
30-year-old, Kenyan-born British rider Chris Froome, and his teammates from Team Sky decimated the field in what was the first big test for the general classification riders, and the first taste of the pyrenees in 2015.
The 'big five' (as they're referred as); Froome, Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Alberto Contador (Saxo Tinkoff), and 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), embarked in a showdown, with all of them sitting comfortably alongside each other at the start of the Stage 10 climb at 15 kilometres to go.
Movistar held the early pacemaking to place Columbian climber Quintana in a formidable position to attack his opposition. Their rapid pace strung havoc in the peloton causing the majority to fall off the back as they continued to ascent, with the exception of the riders in their element.
Dutchman Robert Gesink (LottoNL) attacked shortly after when the opportunity presented itself, but posed no significant threat to any of the major riders and was slowly reeled in.
With the help of Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Australian Richie Porte (Team Sky), Froome sat in the slipstream of his two teammates that remained, leaving enough petrol in the tank to launch an attack that left his opponents in his wake.
Froome's rivals struggled on the first real climb of the tour, and let Froome bask in the glory of another stage win courtesy of some classy Team Sky riders.
At the conclusion of the stage, Froome took to twitter to publicly praise his team.
For Froome, his latest victory has sparked questions from people worldwide about whether or not he is using performance-enhancing drugs to improve his performance.
As many would know, cycling has always experienced trouble with the controversy surrounding the use of drugs in the sport, which even the most heralded athletes within the sport (namely Lance Armstrong) found using such substances.
To answer his critics, Froome will let his riding do the talking, and we shall only know the complete truth when the testing finishes.
Stage 11 presents itself as a different challenge, as we pose the question of whether or not Froome and Team Sky can replicate the same stellar performance they displayed in Stage 10.
On the other hand, can the likes of Quintana and van Garderen regroup after what was a demoralising stage for them all?
Looking at the overall standings of the general classification, Froome holds a commanding lead over his rivals. One must think that unless something goes extremely wrong, Froome seems to be a serious chance of holding onto the mainllot jaune until Paris.
Coulda been better, coulda been worse. Still confident of the podium. On to tomorrow.— Tejay van Garderen (@tejay_van) July 14, 2015
However, we must not speak to soon.
Only time will tell.
|1.||GBRFROOME Christopher||31||TEAM SKY||37h 57' 21''|
|2.||USAVAN GARDEREN Tejay||61||BMC RACING TEAM||38h 00' 13''||+ 02' 52''|
|3.||COLQUINTANA ROJAS Nairo Alexander||51||MOVISTAR TEAM||38h 00' 30''||+ 03' 09''|
|4.||ESPVALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro||59||MOVISTAR TEAM||38h 01' 22''||+ 04' 01''|
|5.||GBRTHOMAS Geraint||39||TEAM SKY||38h 01' 24''||+ 04' 03''|
|6.||ESPCONTADOR Alberto||41||TINKOFF-SAXO||38h 01' 25''||+ 04' 04''|
|7.||FRAGALLOPIN Tony||71||LOTTO-SOUDAL||38h 01' 54''||+ 04' 33''|
|8.||NEDGESINK Robert||131||TEAM LOTTO NL - JUMBO||38h 01' 56''||+ 04' 35''|
|9.||FRABARGUIL WARREN||82||TEAM GIANT-ALPECIN||38h 03' 33''||+ 06' 12''|
|10.||ITANIBALI Vincenzo||1||ASTANA PRO TEAM||38h 04' 18''||+ 06' 57''|
Tune in to SBS at 10:00pm (AEST) for Stage 11.