This time trial was short and nearly totally flat, with two very small rises in elevation (the first for the crossing of the Erasmus Bridge) occurring in the first half of the course.Tony Martin of Team HTC–Columbia led for most of the stage, being the eleventh person to complete the prologue. It was not until world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, the second-to-last rider of the day, took the course that Martin's time was bettered. Rain showers plagued the middle portion of the stage, but for the riders who started at the end the rain had stopped and the course was primarily dry. This was Cancellara's fourth win in a time trial to start the Tour de France in his career. Martin's efforts did not go unrewarded; he was awarded the white jersey for best young rider.
Prologue result and general classification after prologue
4 July 2010 — Rotterdam (Netherlands) to Brussels (Belgium), 223.5 km (138.9 mi)
This stage is flat, winding through the islands of Zeeland before heading south into Belgium before the finish in the nation's capital. It was thought that the winds from the North Sea would cause some mayhem for this very flat stage, but this did not happen. Just 100 m (330 ft) after the peloton passed the stage's true beginning three riders broke away from the pack. Those riders were Lars Boom of Rabobank, Maarten Wijnants of Quick-Step, and Euskaltel–Euskadi's Alan Pérez. The trio stayed in front of the peloton for over 170 km (110 mi). With about 30 km (19 mi) to go, Wijnants sprinted away from the other two breakaway members, who were quickly taken in by the charging peloton. Moldova road race champion Alexandre Pliuschin, representing Team Katusha, escaped from the peloton and joined Wijnants with about 25 km (16 mi) left in the stage. The two gained a maximum advantage of a minute over the peloton, and were caught with 8 km (5.0 mi) to go. As the peloton turned around a right hand bend, with under 3 km (1.9 mi) remaining, there was a small crash that took out two top sprinters, Mark Cavendish and Óscar Freire. Further crashes occurred in the stage's final kilometer, and riders high in the overall standings such as Lance Armstrong and Fabian Cancellara were caught up in them, along with many others. The few riders who were in front of the crash sprinted to the line, with Lampre–Farnese's Alessandro Petacchi claiming his first Tour de France stage win since 2003. Wijnants was named the most combative rider for Stage 1. All 158 riders who were together when the peloton passed through 3 km (1.9 mi) to go were given the same time regardless of when they actually finished.
5 July 2010 — Brussels (Belgium) to Spa (Belgium), 201 km (125 mi)
There are six categorized climbs in this stage, three each in the third and fourth categories. The finish comes off the descent of the Rosier Pass, visited 12 km (7.5 mi) before the conclusion of the stage. Just 10 km (6.2 mi) after passing through kilometer zero, an eight man breakaway formed. The riders that made up the breakaway were Sylvain Chavanel and Jerome Pineau of Quick-Step, Matthew Lloyd and Jurgen Roelandts both from Omega Pharma–Lotto, BMC Racing Team's Marcus Burghardt, Sébastien Turgot of Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Rein TaaramaeCofidis, and Lampre–Farnese's Francesco Gavazzi. As the breakaway passed through the classification four mountains Jerome Pineau picked up enough climbing points to earn the polka dot jersey at the end of the stage, and the first polka jersey of the Tour. By the time the breakaway reached the Stockeu Sylvain Chavanel was by himself, having dropped Jurgen Roelandts who later got reabsorbed into the peloton. As the peloton caught Burghardt, Team HTC–Columbia's Maxime Monfort jumped off the front of the peloton. On the descent of the Stockeu several crashes occurred. Francesco Gavazzi, who was reabsorbed by the peloton, slipped and fell to the ground causing a crash that took down GC contender Andy Schleck, the points competition leader Alessandro Petacchi, and most of the peloton. The riders that came out of the wreckage unscathed went on with the stage, but began to wait for the other riders that were involved in the crash. Most of the peloton regrouped, but they didn't try to chase down Sylvain Chavanel. While approaching the finish line the peloton caught Monfort, the only remaining escapee other than Chavanel. Fabian Cancellara called for the peloton to not go for the sprint finish, out of fairness to those who had crashed and concern for the safety of the riders who might contest the sprint. As a result, no sprint points were awarded at the finish except to Chavanel, the stage winner, who was not involved in the slowdown.
This was his second career Tour de France stage victory, and along with the stage win he became the overall leader and the leader of the points classification.
As Cancellara, Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck, and Thor Hushovd sped away, the rest of the field was trying to pick their way around the pileup. This created some distance between the GC hopefuls, such as Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong. Initially Contador was knocked off of his bike. As the whole field made its way past the wreckage there were now two pelotons. Armstrong was initially in the first bunch of riders, but dropped off the back after needing a front wheel change. Contador fought back to the first main field, which was further up the road than the second peloton. Armstrong charged back, only to join the second peloton, and ultimately lost two minutes of time to the winners, and one minute to Contador. Ryder Hesjedal was caught by the chase group, led by Cancellara, with 6.7 km (4.2 mi) to go in the stage. The group made its way to the line where Thor Hushovd won the stage, also taking the lead in the points classification. Cancellara took the overall lead back from Sylvain Chavanel. Over a minute later Alexander Vinokourov led the second group over the line, with Contador coming in a few seconds later due to a flat tyre. Two minutes after Hushovd crossed the line, the group containing Armstrong crossed the line.
This is another flat stage, with two fourth-category climbs occurring early on. Stage 5 got off to a normal start, 6 km into the stage the riders broke away from the peloton. Jurgen Van De Walle of Quick-Step, José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios of Caisse d'Epargne, and Cofidis's Julien El Fares made up the three man breakaway. The breakaway gained a maximum advantage of eight minutes before being pulled back in by the peloton. As the final kilometers were approaching, Van De Walle and El Fares were caught by the peloton. Gutierrez remained out in front for only a little while longer, until being caught. Then the sprinters teams fought for position. As the teams came down to the final stretch; Mark Renshaw lead out Mark Cavendish for the stage win. This was Cavendish's eleventh Tour de France stage win of his career.
This stage is also classified flat, though it contains a bit more climbing than the previous stages. There are four fourth-category climbs on the course, and other less steep uncategorized rises. Just 3 km after passing through kilometer zero a three man breakaway formed. Those three riders were Mathieu Perget of Caisse d'Epargne, Sebastian Lang of Omega Pharma–Lotto and Euskaltel–Euskadi's Rubén Pérez. The breakaway would gain a maximum advantage of eight minutes on the day. As the stage went on the gap slowly went down and the sprinters teams started preparing for a sprint finish. With 20 km to go in the stage Dimitri Champion of Ag2r–La Mondiale and Anthony Charteau of Bbox Bouygues Telecom broke away from the peloton and joined the breakaway. The two riders would help stretch out the gap between the breakaway and the peloton, but not for long. The sprinters teams reeled in the breakaway just after passing under the 10 km to go banner. Then the sprinters and their lead out trains came to the front for the sprint finish. Mark Renshaw led out Mark Cavendish for his second consecutive stage win. Carlos Barredo and Rui Costa came to blows after the stage.
The Tour's first stage in the mountains has six climbs in the Jura, three in the second category, two in the third, and one in the fourth. The two most difficult climbs are the last two, the Col de la Croix de la Serra and the Lamoura, both second-category climbs reaching over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) in elevation. 4 km (2.5 mi) of flat racing follow the Lamoura climb before the stage finish. After numerous failed attempts at forming a breakaway; a five man breakaway formed 2 km into the stage. The breakaway was composed of Danilo HondoLampre–Farnese, Samuel Dumoulin of Cofidis, Rubén Pérez of Euskaltel–Euskadi, Christian KneesTeam Milram, and King of the Mountains classification leader Jérôme Pineau of Quick-Step. Hondo crossed the first three intermediate sprints of the stage first. Sylvain Chavanel crossed the fourth and final intermediate sprint of the stage first. Pineau crossed the first five classified mountains first, increasing his lead in the King of the Mountains classification. On the ascent of the second to last climb of the day, the Col de la Croix de la Serra, everyone started attacking and other riders started to fall off the back of the peloton at an alarming rate. When the peloton reached the penultimate climb a large group of riders jumped off the front of the peloton to chase after Pineau and the slowing Hondo. When the breakaway reached the final mountain the breakaway only contained two riders, Pineau and Hondo. On the final climb Pineau had climbed away from Hondo; who was beginning to crack. Sylvain Chavanel was a member of the chase group that broke away from the peloton on the Col de la Croix de la Serra. Chavanel attacked and started gaining ground fast, he quickly caught Hondo and then his own teammate Pineau. Chavanel would go on by himself to claim the stage win, his second of this year's Tour, and the maillot jaune. Pineau won the most combative rider of Stage 7.
Stage 8 was the Tour's first taste of the Alps. Starting at the previous day's concluding town of Station des Rousses, the stage incorporated two Category 1 climbs: the Col de la Ramaz which crested with 35 km (22 mi) left to race and the summit finish at Morzine-Avoriaz. As the stage wore on, groups began form off the back of the peloton. Team Sky set a blistering pace on the ascent of the Les Gets, this caused a group of elite riders to form a trailing group. Soon Lance Armstrong, after crashing twice in the stage, dropped off the back of the peloton. Once word reached Astana they took control of the lead elite group, whipping up the pace. This group contained Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, and about 30 others. Once the group reached the flamme rouge, attacks began, aiming at the stage win. Andy Schleck attacked, with Samuel Sánchez trailing him. Schleck out-sprinted Sánchez at the finish for his first Tour stage win. Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey gaining from Sylvain Chavanel.
After the first rest day, at Morzine-Avoriaz, the next Alpine stage contains one of this Tour's hardest climbs, the hors catégorie Col de la Madeleine. The Col de la Colombière and the Col des Saisies, both first-category, are visited earlier in the stage, and the finish line comes after the descent from the Madeleine and a short flat section.
The Bastille Day stage gives a last taste of the Alps for the 2010 Tour. There are three categorized climbs on course, starting with first-category Côte de Laffrey, and finishing with the second-category Col du Noyer; the tallest of them all. The finish into Gap is on a descent, from the Noyer and then from an uncategorized hill. Numerous breakaways tried to form, but none were successful at the beginning of the stage. 36 km into the stage a breakaway finally got clear of the peloton. The break contained Mario Aerts of Omega Pharma–Lotto, Dries Devenyns of Quick-Step, Vasil Kiryienka of Caisse d'Epargne, and Team RadioShack's Sérgio Paulinho. The breakaway was later joined by two Frenchmen, Maxime Bouet of Ag2r–La Mondiale and Pierre Rolland of Bbox Bouygues Telecom. No one in the breakaway was seen as a threat to Andy Schleck, the new wearer of the maillot jaune. The closest rider to him in the break was thirty minutes behind at the start of the stage. The peloton did not really make an effort to catch the breakaway, letting the breakaway's advantage rise to the twelve-minute mark for most of the stage. As the breakaway passed under the 10 km to go banner, the breakaway members began to attack. The first attack was by Devenyns, but he was soon passed. Paulinho sprinted in front of Devenyns, and Kiryienka followed closely behind. The two would gain a minutes advantage over the other riders that were in the chase group. As the finish approached Paulinho sprinted from behind Kiryienka to grab the stage win. Jerome Pineau reclaimed the lead in the King of the Mountains Classification by one point.
^Jerseys appearing in the table on the left of the page indicate those worn by the cyclist during the particular stage, while those appearing in the table on the right of the page indicate those awarded to the cyclist after the stage.