Despite Thomas Voeckler taking stage 10 of this yearâ€™s Tour De France
competition, British hopeful Bradley Wiggins stay safe in his position as race leader. Vincenzo Nibala took some catching after his rapid descent of the impressive Col du Grand Colombier, which as the first major climb of the race saw some riders faltering on the climb to the top. Last yearâ€™s winner Cadel Evans is still trailing behind Wiggins by almost two minutes, with a persistent Chris Froome holding steady in third place with Nibali keeping pace in fourth position. Voeckler who last year held onto the iconic yellow jersey for a total of ten days took the stage just ahead of Jens Voigt and Michele Scarponi. He started out strongly as one of a group of twenty five that broke away from the pack at the start of the stage, a pack which by the end of the gruelling 194km ride had been reduced to only five riders.
It was expected that the climb to Colombiers summit, at a height of 1,501 metres would shake the formation of the pack leaders as they struggled up the 173.4km section of the stage, but the combined efforts and stamina of Team Sky (Boasson, Hagan and Porte) managed to set a pace that made sure to limit any attacks on their position. The biggest threat was posed by Nibali, who at one point managed to race almost a full minute ahead of Team Sky. Despite Wiggins being a clear 2 minutes and 23 seconds ahead of Nibali at the start he managed incredibly to make up some ground, easily closing the 16 second gap that Froome had on him but the team managed to hold him in place to ensure that he could not escape and race ahead to the finish line.
As last yearâ€™s defending champion, Evans tried valiantly to reclaim valuable seconds in the race to the finish line though Wiggins made sure that he never made up too much ground, finishing close by him in 13th position. After the stage Wiggins had nothing but praise for his fellow team members, grateful that they were willing to sacrifice their own shot at the yellow jersey to keep his main competitors in the race locked into position, placing the importance of wearing the jerseys in Paris rather than in the mountains.
When Wiggins dons the yellow jersey again on Thursday he will be the first British rider to wear the jersey for four consecutive days, the previous British record holders being David Millar who retained the jersey for three days in 2000 and Chris Boardman who did the same in 1994. Though whether Wiggins manages to retain it for a fifth day is anyoneâ€™s guess as the competition steps up a notch. With two gruelling climbs ahead, each of which are over 2,000 metres spectators at the finish line on the mountain top at La Toussuire are sure to see the riders going all out to be the first across the line.
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