ISSOUDUN, France — Teammates Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong remained second and third in the Tour de France after a technology-free day of riding in which Britain’s Mark Cavendish won the 10th stage.
Organizers banned rider earpieces for Tuesday’s 121-mile route, forcing cyclists to devise tactics without radio instructions from team cars.
Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy kept the leader’s yellow jersey on a flat route that favored sprinters. Armstrong, the seven-time champion, finished safely in the main pack.
Armstrong is coming out of three and a half years of retirement and chasing an eighth Tour title. Contador is aiming for a second title after winning in 2007. The Spanish mountain specialist was unable to defend his title last year because his Astana team was barred from the race because of doping scandals.
Cavendish edged Thor Hushovd of Norway in a sprint finish, breaking ahead in the final 200 yards. It was the British sprinter’s third stage victory of this Tour and seventh of his career. Tyler Farrar of the United States finished third.
Thierry Hupond, Benoit Vaugrenard, Mikhail Ignatiev and Samuel Dumoulin were caught following a long breakaway with just under a mile to go. Cavendish then turned into the home straightaway and was pressured by Hushovd but held.
The Tour hoped to inject drama into this race by eliminating earpieces in the 10th and 13th stages. Many riders, including Armstrong and Contador, saw the measure as dangerous.
"I can’t hear anything, I don’t know anything. ... I feel naked," Armstrong joked as he got off his Astana team bus and mounted his bike to go to the start line. "I think it’s a lot to do about nothing."
Astana team director Johan Bruyneel had campaigned for the ban to be overturned. But it was upheld and is also scheduled for Friday, a tricky stage featuring one big climb and possibly many attacks. Teams are still pressuring organizers to overturn the ban.
"My impression is that we’ll have the radio on Friday," Armstrong said.
Earpieces allow riders to be linked to directors in team cars. The strategy was popularized by Armstrong when he won his first Tour in 1999.
Some riders and former champions recently criticized the tactic for making cycling too clinical.
Riders can be informed of developments and told when they need to attack or chase riders in a breakaway.
"There are arguments to both sides, to have them or not to have them. But on balance, I think it’s better to have them," Armstrong said. "In cycling, we have other, more important, things to care about."