Pictured, Yauheni Hutarovich , FDJ
At 93.5 kilometers from the start, or about half way through the 196.5 km stage, a small breakaway that established an early lead is still ahead by about 3:30 minutes.
The group which started out as three riders, soon increased to six and now includes Anthony Geslin and Yauheni Hutarovich of Francais de Jeux, Marcin Sapa of Lampre, Thomas Voeckler of B Box, Mikhail Ignatiev of Katusha, and Albert Timmer of Skil Shimano.
Pictured right, Thomas Voeckler of B-Box
After the Columbia HTC team after vowing not to lead the chase, they once again stepped up to the plate to push the pace of the peleton. They receive some help from Astana who are staying close to the front, and later Garmin Slipstream who for sure will want their sprinter Tyler Farrar to be near the front when the peleton nears the finish line.
Pictured, Marcin Sapa of Lampre
The riders are making their way through a region dotted by ancient castles from the 10th century, and will be ending in the medieval town of Perpignan, where many of the buildings are from the 12th, 13th and 14th century.
Pictured (left) Mikhail Ignatiev of Katusha, and Albert Timmer of Skil Shimano (right)
It's also been announced that for two days the team directors will have their radios banned on Stages 10 and 13. This will definitely affect how riders assess the situation in the race. I suspect the move is an attempt by the race directors to add a little unpredicatability to a race that has in some ways become a strategic chess game by the big teams. If the riders in a chase group have no idea how far ahead a breakaway is they are unlikely to know how much energy to put into the chase.