What was the hardest thing you did on Tuesday? I promise it wasn’t as hard as the opening 25 kilometers of the tenth stage. With just a few neutral kilometers in their legs to warm up, the peloton hit the climb to Port d’Envalira. The initial dozen kilometers were fairly harmless, mostly around 3% to 4.5%. For an encore, however, the final ten kilometers range from 6% to 7.8% with just one merciful kilometer at 2.9%. The Port d’Envalira, the highest paved road in Europe that is open year round, also offered bonus King of the Mountains points for the first rider to reach the summit as it is the Souvenir Henri Desgrange, the highest point of this year’s Tour de France. This meant attacks flew from the gun, with Rui Costa breaking free to crest the climb ahead of his colleagues.
He left a fractured peloton in his wake, split into small chase groups.
The second chase group had about 40 riders, including Chris Froome in the maillot jeune.
Costa with 600 meters to the summit.
Haimar Zubeldia led the first chase group.
Among chase group two was 2015 stage winner, Ruben Plaza.
Winner of the 2015 Tour de Romandie and a Giro stage, Ilnur Zakarin.
Froome’s lieutenant, Geraint Thomas.
Diego Rosa disrobed ahead of Tejay Van Garderen.
The first of many suffer faces of the day: Paolo Tiralongo.
Mixed in with the bunch, Jerome Cousin eyed the climb wearily.
Tony Gallopin and Greg Van Avermaet. Both have worn the yellow jersey in their careers.
Dylan Van Baarle and Ramunas Navardauskas.
A worn Wilco Kelderman.
Lawson Craddock in his Tour debut.
Sprinter Alexander Kristoff no doubt hoped his Katusha team would help to rein in the break at some point to set up a sprint finish for him.
Peloton veteran Chris Anker Sorensen.
Luis Angel Maté bares his teeth.
Matteo Tosatto and Chris Juul-Jensen.
Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman did not like what he saw.
Oliver Naesen opened his mouth in a silent scream alongside Eduardo Sepulveda.
After the stage, Alex Howes tweeted a photo of a bicycle half buried in cement, saying that’s how he felt on the climb.
Jacopo Guarnieri and Sep Vanmarcke found themselves in the sprinters’ group.
Leigh Howard got the last minute call up to replace a sick teammate.
Markel Irizar, bringing up the rear.
The only way to follow a brutal climb was with 35k of twisting roads under a heavy cloak of fog.
A 15 man break eventually replaced Costa at the head of the race which was whittled down to a final selection of 7, including a trio of Orica Bike Exchange. Once Durbridge’s work was done, teammate Daryl Impey led out Matthews. Riding single file, the remaining 6 riders all began looking around to see who would crack first and make a move in the closing meters. In the end, Matthews outsprinted Sagan and Edvald Boassan Hagen to claim his first Tour stage. For Matthews, this win was years in the making. He was slated to ride the Tour in 2014 but a crash in training meant he was scratched at the last moment. Debuting in 2015, he crashed early on, suffering injuries and significant road rash. Though he managed to reach Paris, he never factored in to any of the sprints. The 25 year old Australian now joins the club of cyclists to win a stage in all of the Grand Tours.