Prigueux - How do you beat Marcel Kittel in a sprint?
That's going to be the question on the lips of every
sprinter at the Tour de France on Tuesday.
After a gruelling mountain stage, Monday's rest day was
welcomed by all and sundry and with two flat stages ahead before the Pyrenees
loom, the sprinters will be licking their lips at the prospect of coming to the
fore once again.
But these two stages won't be as straight-forward as the
previous flat stages during the first week of the Tour, where small breakaway
groups set off on doomed escapades as the sprinters' teams coldly and easily
controlled their gaps.
Everyone is tired at this point in the Tour and no-one will
be relishing leading the peloton, meaning there are rewards to be had for a
determined group of escapees with a bit of energy to burn.
The peloton will more likely play with fire, give the
breakaway extra leeway and take longer to launch it's final chase.
The sprinters, and their teams, are not only tired, but
there are fewer of them now.
French champion Arnaud Demare missed the cut-off point on
Sunday's brutal mountain stage and is out of the race.
Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan had already left the race so
that's three less teams likely to be interested in chasing down a breakaway,
putting more onus on Kittel's Quick-Step outfit as he chases a fourth stage
At the same time, it is a day in which the overall
contenders will be hoping for a minimum of drama, and preferably a leisurely
Anything to rest the legs ahead of the Pyrenees, and then
next week the Alps.
Many are nursing bumps, bruises and cuts from the numerous
falls that affected the race on Sunday.
Two-time former champion Alberto Contador is one of those.
He crashed twice on Sunday and lost more than four minutes to race leader Chris
He's now had to rethink his approach to the race.
"Most of you know me and know that I am quite
optimistic, but now the priority is to recover and, if I do it, try to do the
best I can," Contador told journalists on Monday.
"If so, my approach to the race will be completely
With Froome and his Sky team doing what they do best,
controlling the race and stretching out his lead bit by bit every time there's
a tough stage as one or more rivals lose time, everyone is going to have to
think outside the box and try something different.
And maybe they will gain inspiration from Tuesday's 178km
10th stage which begins in the medieval town of Perigueux, a World Heritage
site and important stop off point on the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage