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Australia's Nicholas Schultz (left) and Magnus Cort Nielsen of Denmark sprint to cross the finish in the 10th stage in Megeve, France, on Tuesday. Image Credit: AP

Meghve, France: Magnus Cort Nielsen won stage 10 of the Tour de France on Tuesday, after a nail-biting cat-and-mouse struggle up the final section of the culminating 20km climb.

Nick Schultz of Bike Exchange was second and Luis Leon Sanchez was third after the 148km run through sinuous Haut Savoie roads that avoided the major mountains in the region.

Nielsen, a Dane who rides for EF, wore the polka dot mountain points jersey for several days after claiming it on stage two.

More worries for Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar led the main peloton across the line almost nine minutes later.

German Lennard Kamna leapt from 21st to second after escaping with the breakaway. Although he could not keep up on the final climb, the Bora rider still gained more than eight minutes on the race leaders and is just 11sec adrift of Pogacar.

Pogacar earlier lost a second teammate to Covid, while his key lieutenant Rafal Majka also tested positive, but was cleared to race by the UCI as he is considered not infectious.

School-holiday crowds, mainly families, were in party mode along the sinuous route and even more expected on the two huge mountain stages coming up.

A day after the rest day, the cyclists rode through bright sunshine and 24 degree Celsius temperatures as the winding 148km through the valleys of the Haute Savoie skirted the major climbs. The ride was delayed twice.

The first delay came when a team bus became stuck on a hairpin bend before the start and had to be lifted out by snowplough.

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The pack of riders cycles during the 10th stage of the 109th edition of the Tour de France on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP

Then the racing was interrupted by demonstrators on the road with 38km left.

Wednesday’s 151km run from Albertville to Col du Granon features two beyond category climbs is considered by some of the contenders, including fourth-placed Geraint Thomas of Ineos, as the toughest in this year’s visit to the Alps.

High altitudes

The final climb rises to 2,400 metres while the Col du Galibier before it climbs to 2600.

“I’m comfortable with thos kinds of altitudes,” the 2018 champion said on Monday.

On the July 14, Bastille Day, on Thursday the race returns over some of the same mountains but takes in three beyond category climbs before finishing at the Alpe d’Huez.