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Houle wins Tour’s stage 10 combativity award after riding in two-man breakaway

Hat trick of stage wins for Cavendish pulls him within one victory of Merckx's record

Tuesday’s tenth stage of the Tour de France wasn’t the first time Hugo Houle was in the day’s breakaway in the 2021 edition–he was included in Stage 7’s escape and later went on to place 12th–but it was the first time he was in an intrepid, highly visible duo of escapees. Houle flew Astana-Premier Tech’s flag alongside a Lotto-Soudal rider for over 150 km and won the day’s combativity award. Mark Cavendish earned his 33rd career Tour de France win and third of the 108th edition, pulling him within one victory of tying Eddy Merckx’s all-time record. Tadej Pogačar was safe in the yellow jersey. Guillaume Boivin, just named to Canada’s Olympic Games team, was top Canadian.

You can watch the 108th edition of the Tour de France on FloBikes.

The Course

The first day back from the rest day was one for the sprinters. There was only one categorized climb and it came early in the 190.7 km. The route headed west from Albertville in the Alps to Valence.

Houle gets to know Tosh Van der Sande

It wasn’t going to be a day to elicit a big breakaway, but a duo seemed a little stingy. Canada’s Hugo Houle bolted with Lotto-Soudal’s Tosh Van der Sande, and the Astana-Premier Tech rider got to know the Belgian on their long, ultimately doomed outing. Houle took the point atop the Cat. 4 Col de Couz.

Houle was one of only two fugitives on Tuesday’s Stage 10.

After Van der Sande and Houle cruised through the intermediate sprint and the top of an uncategorized climb, Sonny Colbrelli took the third most points and Michael Matthews the fourth.

The Canadian-Belgian alliance wasn’t given a very long leash, but the peloton didn’t want to capture it too early either. On an uphill section with 38 km to ride, Houle took leave of his breakmate. But only two kilometres later the Canadian was absorbed by the BikeExchange-powered peloton.

BikeExchange captures Houle after 154 km in front.

There was an award for Houle in Valence.

Crosswinds led to frantic skirmishing. With the action kicking off in the field, Colbrelli punctured and had to chase back on.

With 16 km remaining, Deceuninck-Quick Step created a split that saw Tadej Pogačar on the wrong side of the affairs. He came back, but some of his rivals were at the business end of the race. The peloton was chopped into pieces but there was a bit of a regrouping.

EF Education-Nippo and then Ineos led the streamlined peloton into the final 5 km before Quick Step grabbed the reins. BikeExchange wanted the front too.

Quick Step’s lead out was precise and the Manx Missile was very fast.

Wednesday is the long-anticipated double ascent of legendary Ventoux, a good day for Michael Woods and Nairo Quintana to continue their King of the Mountains scrap.

2021 Tour de France Stage 10
1) Mark Cavendish (Great Britain/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 4:14:07
2) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) s.t.
3) Jasper Philipsen (Belgium/Alpecin-Fenix) s.t.
69) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) s.t.
123) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana-Premier Tech) +4:38
146) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) s.t.

2021 Tour de France GC
1) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia/UAE-Emirates) 34:11:10
2) Ben O’Connor (Australia/AG2R-Citroën) +2:01
3) Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/EF Education-Nippo) +5:18
38) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) +51:04
54) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana-Premier Tech) +1:02:32
92) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) +1:22:38