A trio of well-known sprinters, led by Jean-Paul van Poppel of the Netherlands, headed Tuesday's 10th stage of the Tour de France cycling classic, while Canadian Steve Bauer retained the overall lead.

Bauer held onto his yellow jersey, worn by the lead rider, with a 14-second lead over France's Pascal Simon. Most of the riders finished in a pack with little effect on the overall standings."Other teams wanted to win the stage so they took it upon themselves to ride down the breakaways," Bauer said later. "So they controlled the race and it worked out great for me and I kept the jersey."

Bauer placed 57th, and like the rest in the pack was credited with the same time as van Poppel.

Cycling squads, such as Superconfex and Z-Peugeot, decided before the race to gain valuable points in the overall team race. So in breakaways, support riders for those teams chased down the breakaway riders and gradually brought them back to the pack.

The race went to riders known for their sprinting strength with Van Poppel first, followed by Italy's Guido Bontempi and Belgium's Eddy Planckaert.

Van Poppel, who won the third stage on another sprint finish, was timed in three hours, 28 minutes, 31 seconds for the 92-mile leg from Belfort to Besancon in eastern France.

Most of the riders were conserving their strength before Wednesday's stage into Switzerland for an encounter with the Alps.