Tour de Flop for French

FRANCE - For some French teams on the Tour de France, it has been a comparatively disastrous campaign so far.

FRANCE - For some French teams on the Tour de France, it has been a comparatively disastrous campaign so far.

But at the halfway stage and on the national holiday of Bastille Day, the likes of Cofidis, Francaise des Jeux and Bbox Bouygues have the perfect chance to make amends.

After two hard days in the high mountains trimmed the yellow jersey field in brutal fashion, the battle for the race's top prize should take a back seat until the resumption of hostilities in the Pyrenees on Sunday.

The 179km 10th stage from Chambery to Gap today will give the yellow jersey challengers a chance to rest, and the French a chance to make up for their mediocre showing so far.

The stage starts off easily enough, but with the difficult Cote de Laffrey, a 7km-long climb at the 70km mark, breakaways are a certainty.

Early attacks will have a good chance of going all the way, especially as the rest of the stage is undulating and features the ascent of the Col de Noyer, a 7,4km-long climb at the 138km mark.

From the summit it's another 34km to the finish line in Gap, and Lance Armstrong in particular will have reason to look back with fondness at one of the more bizarre highlights of his career.

It was on the Rochette descent leading to the finish in Gap that the American dramatically took a diversion through a field after Spanish rival Joseba Beloki crashed in front of him as his tyre came off his wheel rim on the melting tar.

While Armstrong emerged unscathed to global applause for his quick thinking and versatile bike handling, Beloki was never the same rider after the injuries he sustained. - Sapa-AFP

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