By Kenny Pryde
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the hectic sprint at the end of stage 10 in St Malo as the sprinter's teams re-entered the Tour de France in the first bunch sprint since Montpellier on stage six.
There wasn't a hope in hell that the sprinter's teams would let this golden opportunity for a stage win slip. The five-man break was gathered up with six kilometres to go and the bunch sprint ensued.
Kittel, one half of the two-pronged Argos-Shimano sprint attack in this Tour, held off his fellow German Andre Greipel of Lotto to take a narrow victory on the sea front at St Malo in Brittany. Kittel, the first yellow jersey of the Tour, had his second stage win, after Mark Cavendish was involved in a clash of shoulders that saw an Argos-Shimano's Tom Veelers hit the deck inside the final 200 metres. Cavendish still crossed the line third.
In spite of the utterly bankable certainty of a bunch sprint, it didn't prevent a five-rider break moving clear as soon as the flag dropped and the KM ‘Zero' sign was passed. The five men with a need for publicity were Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), Jerome Cousin (Europcar), Luis Mate (Cofidis), Julien Simon (Sojasun) and Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel). Each had their reasons to get themselves some television time.
Cousin's team Europcar haven't re-committed to sponsorship for 2014 and the team needs to attract a big sponsor. Simon is a Breton and was riding home. Westra and Vacansoleil are in the same state of uncertainly over 2014, Mate was giving Cofidis the first decent TV time since poor Rein Taaramae was dropped on the first mountain of the race and Euskaltel are also looking for a sponsor for 2014.
Truly, it was a break more in search of security and publicity than launched with any expectation of success. Such is the Tour. 192km looking for a job or a sponsor...
With 23km to go the route turned into a cross-tailwind, the pace increased still more as the jockeying for position in the peloton began. With 18km to go, Westra sat up from the break and 13km later, the break was finished as Omega Pharma finished the job off.
The final straight was 2.5km long and Orica, Lotto, Argos-Shimano wound up the speed to around 60kph, preparing the way for their sprinters.
There was the usual leaning and nudging but, in spite of a clash between Cavendish and an Argos-Shimano lead out man that saw the Argos rider hit the deck, it didn't interfere with the outcome, leaving Marcel Kittel to hold off fellow German Andrei Greipel by half a wheel.
Tour de France 2013, stage 10: Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to Saint-Malo, 197km
1. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos-Shimano in 4-53-25
2. Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
3. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
5. William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
7. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r
8. Kevin Reza (Fra) Europcar
9. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
10. Jose Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar all same time
21. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing
24. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky
25. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
26. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky
31. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at same time
121. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 1-40
144. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 1-40
172. David Millar (GBr) Sky at 4-17
181. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Sky at 6-27
Overall classification after stage 10
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 41-52-43
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 1-25
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin at 1-44
4. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin 1-50
5. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1-51
6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo-Tinkoff at 1-51
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 2-02
8. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 2-28
9. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 2-31
10. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar at 2-45
Tour de France 2013: Stage reports
Stage nine: Martin wins stage as Froome fights to keep lead
Stage eight: Froome wins Tour mountains stage to take overall lead
Stage seven: Sagan scores first win of 2013 Tour
Stage six: Greipel wins as Impey moves into lead
Stage five: Cavendish wins; Gerrans keeps lead
Stage four: Orica win Tour's team time trial to put Gerrans in yellow
Stage three: Gerrans outpaces Sagan to take win
Stage two: Millar denied yellow as Bakelants takes spoils
Stage one: Kittel wins chaotic opening stage
Tour de France 2013: Podcasts
Podcast six (stage nine)
Tour de France 2013: Comment, analysis, blogs
Moto blog part one (July 9)
Lessons learnt by Team Sky after Tour visits Pyrenees
Was Sunday (stage nine) a missed opportunity for Froome's rivals?
Rest day review (July 8)
Tour de France: 100 Tours, 1,000 stories
Tour de France 2013: Photo galleries
Stage nine by Andy Jones
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Andy Jones
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Andy Jones
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Andy Jones
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Andy Jones
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Andy Jones
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Graham Watson
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