Rüdiger Selig shows BORA-hansgrohe’s fighting spirit still intact after sprinting to fourth on Tour de France stage 10.
It was back on the road today after a well-deserved rest day in the Dordogne region. Sadly, after his crash on Sunday’s stage, Rafał Majka withdrew from the race, focusing on recovery rather than risk his health further by pushing on with the race. Rüdiger Selig brought BORA-hansgrohe’s morale back up today though with a strong performance in the day’s finale, learning from his experiences earlier in the race and being rewarded with fourth place – his best position of this Tour de France so far.
After the difficulty of Sunday’s Queen Stage, this 178km parcours looked like a walk in the park from the profile. The two fourth category climbs would feel like small mounds compared to the Hors Catégorie mountains of the last stage, while the rest of the stage was only mildly undulating. The flat finale would give the sprinters another chance to take the win, but as always, the breakaway would be looking to frustrate them. The road furniture and some twists and turns in the final kilometres would make the catch that much harder.
It didn’t take long for the break to form – the moment the riders left the neutralised area one rider went ahead solo, before being joined by another. This small break made up for with ambition what it lacked in number, quickly extending their lead on the peloton to five minutes. The sprint teams had their eye on the two escapees, and made sure their advantage never extended beyond six minutes, and dropped steadily as the stage went on – with 50km remaining, the duo had only 2:30.
Back in the peloton, it was clear that the sprinters meant business. As the race hit the 10km to go marker, the gap was down to less than twenty seconds and the break was well and truly in their sights. At 6.5km it was all back together – perfect timing for the sprint teams to pull together a spectacular finale. In the bunch, Rüdiger Selig was pushing hard, working to better his seventh spot, well placed as the race hit its final kilometre, six riders back. Riding without a sprint train, Rüdi powered his way to fourth place, the German rider putting in an incredible effort, in spite of finding himself boxed in for much of his sprint.
Having beaten some of the world’s fastest cyclists to the line today, Rüdi had every reason to be pleased with his sprint. At the finish he was already analysing his sprint and looking at ways to improve. “I played a little bit of poker today and tried to come from behind. I thought that after the last turn, some of the guys would start their sprint too early. I was on the wheel of Bouhanni before the final corner when Quickstep moved up on the left hand side, Bouhanni tried to block them a little and I lost my speed a little in the turn. I had to accelerate then again, but I think my timing was good. When Kittel came from behind and passed me, he was so fast – he is almost unbeatable.”
BORA-hansgrohe’s Head Sports Director, Enrico Poitschke, was pleased with how Rüdi stepped up today, after the team had lost Rafał. “After we lost our second leader in this Tour yesterday, we had to refocus. We will concentrate on stage wins, and today the team proved that they are still fighting for every chance. Rüdi again did a great job to be up there with the big guns without any leader. We are very happy with his result and we will continue to fight as a team in the upcoming stages.”
Another flat day awaits the riders tomorrow. The 203.5km parcours features just one fourth category climb coming a little under 60km from the finish. On a day like this, you can be sure the sprinters will be eager for another fast finale, but as always, the break will always be looking for a way to frustrate the fast men.