The riders leave the Atlantic coast and head inland into France. Over the wide French roads the peloton thunders to Poitiers. Apart from a fourth category col, the course is flat. With a last straight line of one and a half kilometers the red carpet is rolled out for the pure sprinters.
Today could be the last chance for the sprinters on a stage victory. As from Thursday the course will be more hilly and so the sprinting teams will probably take the lead in the eleventh stage.
Jumbo-Visma already won two sprint stages with all-rounder Wout van Aert, but now has stage wins less high on the priority list. Leader Primoz Roglic is wearing the yellow leader’s jersey and the team wants to do everything they can to keep it that way until Paris.
Battle of Poitiers
The finish place is known from the Battle of Poitiers in 723, where Karel Martel defeated the Moors, but the French city is also a famous finish place in the Tour. Although it’s 42 years ago that the Tour de France last entered Poitiers.
Herman van der Zandt dived into the history of Poitiers:
Gerrie Knetemann thought he could win that stage in a sprint with his fellow riders, but the Irishman Sean Kelly was too fast for him. Sam Bennett followed his compatriot in the tenth stage on Tuesday as the last Irishman to win a sprint stage in the Tour de France. Can the rider from Deceuninck-QuickStep also succeed Kelly as the last winner in Poitiers?
Then Bennett will have to deal with the other fast men in the peloton. Caleb Ewan already had a stage to his name, but his Lotto-Soudal team consists of only five riders after the breakaway of John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert and Steff Cras.
Bennett also has to take into account the Dutch sprinter Cees Bol, who already finished second in this Tour, Peter Sagan, who will want to recapture the green jersey and Elia Viviani, who finished fourth on Tuesday.
Martijn Berkhout, manager of Bol, told in the evening stage what the Dutchman can do best in the sprint. “He is at his best when he starts the sprint himself. He has to follow his instinct. Going very hard is the best he can do.”
Berkhout sees the 25-year old Bol grow in his second Tour de France. “He is rapidly developing his leadership qualities. He keeps the team well together.”