Jasper Philipsen pips Biniam Girmay to net first win, Mark Cavendish fails to fire

Jul 11, 2024

Paris [France], July 11 : A hotly-contested sprint saw Jasper Philipsen charge to victory on Stage 10 of the Tour de France. It's been a difficult, winless Tour to date for Philipsen, but he found his best to down the in-form Biniam Girmay, with Mark Cavendish finishing down the field. With the rest of the bunch crossing the line together, the GC standings remained the same heading into the Massif Central test.
Jasper Philipsen and his Alpecin-Deceuninck team finally got their train back on track as world champion Mathieu van der Poel led out his Belgian team-mate to a textbook victory in Stage 10 of the Tour de France at Saint-Amand-Montrond.
A four-time winner last year, Philipsen had only been able to muster three second-place finishes in the opening week of the Tour this summer - one of which was wiped off after a large deviation fell foul of the race jury.
But everything fell into place perfectly for the 26-year-old sprinter on Tuesday with Philipsen powering to victory by a bike length over Eritrea's Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) and Germany's Pascal Ackermann (Israel-Premier Tech).
Belgium's Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Colombia's Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) completed the top five at the end of the otherwise leisurely schlep through the Loire and Cher regions of France.
In his pursuit of a record-extending 36th victory on the Tour, Britain's Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan) was crowded out on the technical finale of a stage practically identical to one that he won back in 2013. There was also disappointment for another rider looking to double up with the Dutch Stage 6 winner Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) finishing seventh.
After a 187km stage light on drama but heavy on picture-perfect scenery there was no change in the overall standings with Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) retaining his 33-second lead over Belgium's Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) ahead of a tough eleventh stage through the mountainous Massif Central.
After the flag went down in Orleans there was none of the usual skirmishes to create a breakaway on a day that seemed destined to belong to the fastmen. The peloton had rolled along for the best part of 50km under intermittent showers before three Belgian riders - Lotto Dstny duo Harm Vanhoucke and Maxim van Gils, and Kobe Goossens (Intermarche-Wanty) - zipped clear in what appeared to be something of a practical joke.
Van Gils soon dropped back leaving his two countrymen to contest the intermediate sprint, with Goossens defending the green jersey lead of his team-mate Girmay ahead of Vanhoucke.
When the peloton arrived just over a minute later it was very much a dress rehearsal for the finale, with Philipsen edging out Girmay - the Eritrean almost colliding into barriers protruding onto the edge of the road.
Mindful of the kind of wind that split the peloton in 2013 and pre-empted the 25th Tour victory of Cavendish's career 11 years previously, tensions rose with around 60km remaining as UAE Team Emirates, Visma-Lease a Bike and Cavendish's Astana team all came to the front to up the tempo and string out the peloton.
But the potential echelons never materialised and once the windy conditions died down, it all proved something of a blustery red herring.
The pace remained slow until the final 10km when the teams of sprinters took things up ahead of what proved to be a messy and technical finish. Some sharp corners leading into Saint-Amand-Montrond caught out many and dashed the hopes of several sprinters - including Fabio Jakobsen of Team DSM-Firmenich PostNL.
But Alpecin-Deceuninck had read the script - and once Van der Poel outmuscled the EF Education-EasyPost train of Marijn van den Berg, he slungshot Philipsen clear on the home straight.
Gaviria came from deep with pace as did Girmay. The Eritrean, though, slightly eased off before launching his final kick - perhaps wary of another close-shave with the barriers.
In the end, it was the kind of win we saw so often 12 months ago as Alpecin-Deceuninck put to bed their opening week frustrations and put the record straight.
"Last week was not a great week - an endless week with some bad luck, of course," Philipsen said after cutting Girmay's green jersey lead from 96 points to 74 points. "I'm really happy, it's a big relief. We can finally show our strength and together with the lead-out train we did finally what we came for.
"It was a perfect job from the team. We kept on believing. We knew the corners were quite tricky. Everyone is growing - maybe we didn't start in our best shape, but we're all healthy and we all feel good.
"I'm really happy we can start this second week with a win - and there are still some nice stages left. [Biniam Girmay] is doing a really strong Tour and he's a lot of points ahead. We just focus on our performances, try to get another win, and see what we can get."
Van der Poel echoed his team-mate's relief and satisfaction after a perfect day in the office.
"I think we did a really good job with the turns. We knew we had to be in front. We performed really well and Jasper finished it off. We told him not to doubt himself and to really go for it," Van der Poel said.
"The first week was difficult. Now, I wouldn't say it was getting easier, but for sure the bunch gets a bit more tired and we can really make a difference now. Today we were all really motivated. We don't have many chances left in this Tour - we really wanted to go for it today."
Philipsen will have very little chance of doubling up on Wednesday when the peloton heads into the lush hills and mountains of the Massif Central. The 211km Stage 11 from Evaux-les-Bains to the ski resort of Le Lioran features six categorised climbs and over 4,000m of elevation as the race passes through the home territory of Stage 1 winner Romain Bardet, the race's first yellow jersey.
The current man in yellow, double champion Pogacar, will no doubt look to put his rivals under pressure - notably the defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) who remains third in the standings, 1'15" down on the Slovenian.
Fans can catch all the action from Tour de France 2024 - Stage 11 - Evaux-les-Bains - Le Lioran which will be broadcast on Eurosport.