Tour De France 2012: Riders to Watch Heading into Grueling Stage 10

Sam R. QuinnSenior Analyst IIIJuly 10, 2012

BESANCON, FRANCE - JULY 09:  Tejay van Garderen of the USA and the BMC Racing Team in action during stage nine of the 2012 Tour de France,  a 41.5km individual time trial, from Arc-et-Senans to Besancon on July 9, 2012 in Besancon, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

After Tuesday's quick respite, the 2012 Tour de France moves on to Stage 10, which spans 194.5 kilometers from Macon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine.

Stage 10 is one of the most grueling in all of cycling's greatest race and is certainly the most mountainous stage that riders have seen so far.

The field will ride to the Grand Colombier, a colossal mountain that reaches elevations of over 1,500 meters and contains stretches with a gradient of 12 percent.

Around this time is usually when we get to see who has it and who doesn't. The favorites start to pull away, and the lesser riders begin to fall back.

You don't want to miss any of the action, but here are three riders to watch heading into Stage 10.

Bradley Wiggins

Of course, you always want to watch the first-place rider in the Tour, but make sure to key in on Bradley Wiggins when Stage 10 starts on Wednesday.

He won the Stage 9 time trial in relatively easy fashion, but he's much stronger in that area than on the mountains. This stage will be the main indication as to how Wiggins will finish the rest of the Tour.

If he gives up too much time to the rest of the field, his loss of momentum may be crippling. If he manages to keep his lead as large as it is now, he should be okay.

No Brit has ever been able to win the Tour de France, so if Wiggins is able to hold on to the yellow jersey for the remainder of the competition, it would be a victory for his entire country as well as himself.

Cadel Evans

There's no way that both of these riders should be excluded from this list. In a sport where there is so much controversy outside of competition, Cadel Evans is acting as the straw that stirs the drink in this year's Tour.

Evans made it known that he doesn't think Wiggins is all that (per

If I was going to convince myself now he was unbeatable and unstoppable, well I might as well decide on second. He doesn't have much of a history over three weeks compared to someone like me.

We're really at the midway point of the race now, and in the second half is where I come into my best. From here, we'll keep going, we'll keep on working at it and we'll keep on racing till the end.

So, it seems like Evans firmly believes that he can make a run in the next few stages, as well as the back end of the race. After all, why shouldn't he?

There obviously won't be any altercations or things of that nature during the race, but it will be interesting to see just how far these two push themselves in the midst of this heated rivalry.

Tejay Van Garderen

At just 23 years old, American Tejay Van Garderen currently boasts the Tour's white jersey as the best young rider in the field. He finished in fourth place in Stage 9, which helped him move up to eighth in the overall standings.

Van Garderen will need a miracle to catch Wiggins, as he currently sits 00:05:14 behind the leader, but he's quickly making a name for himself in the world of cycling.

He'll be on the top of the overall standings in the coming years, but for now his main focus is to help Evans win his second consecutive Tour de France title.

The performance he puts forth in the future stages will not only affect his standing, but also Evans' chances at winning the race.