In what could be a defining stage of the 2014 Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali won his second stage of this year's Tour and regained the Yellow Jersey after one day without.
On the French holiday of Bastille Day, it was guaranteed to be a punishing stage and no doubt it delivered with Nibali making another statement on the day race favorite Alberto Contador was forced to abandon.
Early in the stage a large group broke free from the peloton, a group that included the top young rider in the White Jersey, Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski. Until the final climb, Kwiatkowski was riding with Joaquim Rodriguez and Stage 9 winner Tony Martin to try and take the race lead. At one point on the road he had the virtual Yellow as the leader but he started to crack on the final climb and was reeled in with a couple of kilomters to go before he was left in the dust by Nibali and the rest of the top riders.
Nibali was content riding in the peloton for most of the day with his Astana team driving the pace until Nibali took over with a couple of kilometers. He put the heat on and made an acceleration nobody else could match. It wasn't long until he caught up to the one remaining rider from the break, Rodriguez, and flew by him.
It was the type of acceleration you expect from a Tour leader and the type that will be remembered by the competitors around him, that this is not going to an easy task to take away the Yellow from Nibali again. Statement: made.
As for the Yellow Jersey on the road, that belonged to France's Tony Gallopin. He was dropped from the peloton on the final climbs and just couldn't keep up as he eventually crossed the line 4:45 behind Nibali to lose the jersey.
When it was said and done Nibali crossed the line 15 seconds ahead of France's Thibaut Pinot for the stage win and 20 seconds ahead of top competitor Alejando Valverde. American Tejay van Garderen crossed the line sixth, 22 seconds behind Nibali, a ride that was good enough to shoot him up the standings and back into the top 10.
In addition to Contador abandoning the race, the man ranked third in the General Classification coming into Monday, Portugal's Tiago Machado, nearly abandoned but kept riding after an early crash. He lost chunks of time and disappeared from the top of the standings.
So after a wild day and going into the first rest day of the Tour, here is how the top 10 in the overall standings shake out.
1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
2. Richie Porte (AUS) +2:23
3. Alejando Valverde (ESP) +2:47
4. Romain Bardet (FRA) +3:01
5. Tony Gallopin +3:13
6. Thibaut Pinot +3:47
7. Tejay van Garderen (USA) +3:56
8. Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) +3:57
9. Rui Costa (POR) +3:58
10. Bauke Mollema (NED) +4:08
GIF of the day
The mountains at the Tour de France always bring out the best fans ... and most interesting marketing ploys. The running bottle of what almost appears to be Pepto Bismol chasing Joaquim Rodriguez up the penultimate climb is the kind of thing we've come to expect.
GIF of the Day 2
Peter Sagan is quite the bike rider. The Green Jersey leader went with the initial breakaway to make sure he picked up the points at the sprint early in the stage and then leisurely rode his way to the finish, being torched by the top of the field. He didn't mind, though, and had enough energy to do a no-hands wheelie up the final climb to the finish line.
After a brutal stage on Monday, the riders will get their first rest day of the Tour on Tuesday, certainly much-needed.
When they do return to the roads on Wednesday they'll still have work to do. It won't be a mountain stage like Monday and shouldn't be as demanding but it's still not going to be a stroll and could be another stage with time gaps at the top of the general classification.
Beginning in Besancon, Stage 11 will run 187.5 kilometers over hilly terrain that features three category three climbs and one category four. On most days it wouldn't be too much for all of the contenders to hang together but coming off a rest day when legs will get a bit weary and following a couple of brutal days over the weekend, there is some potential for challenges but the downhill finish could be an equalizer.