Lannemezan-Foix, 167.5km

What will happen?

The race is leaving the high mountains of the Pyrenees, and ambling due East through the foothills. It’s not a stage for the favourites to stress about – and after yesterday’s first rest day, we can expect a breakaway to quickly form and stick. There’s a first category climb two thirds of the way through – the Col de Portel – but it’s too far from the finish to have any real effect for the overall contenders to bother with. However, if Damiano Cunego (Lampre) or Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargen) are creeping up the Col it presents an opportunity to their overall rivals to cut them out of the picture once and for all.

More likely, though, is that the GC contenders will be happy for a break to take the pressure off them for a day, and so will the sprinters’ teams, who will be saving themselves for tomorrow and Thursday’s flatter stages. There’s potential here for a break of low-down-on-GC riders to quickly build up a lead of 20 minutes or so, without fear of being chased down.

What are the climbs like?

After yesterday’s day off, the riders will appreciate a 50km warm-up to ease the legs back in before reaching the summit of the day’s first climb – the third category Col de Larrieu. There’s about another 40km before reaching the base of the day’s big one, the first category 1,432m Col de Portel. It’s the first time the climb has been used in the race, so it’s a bit of an unknown quantity in the Tour. It’s then back down to Foix, navigating the third cat Col de Bouich along the way. With 20km between the Bouich and the finish line there’s plenty of opportunity for a re-grouping of a fragmented break or lead group before the finish.

Will there be a new King of the Mountains?

So far the spotted jersey has passed around like a case of chicken pox at a children’s nursery. Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) currently leads the KoM competition, but his team-mate David De La Fuente is only 12 points behind. Ricco’s position at the top of the polka dot table is on account of his stage wins in the mountains, rather than setting out to get the jersey. With a clutch of points on offer today, De La Fuente might aim to grab a handful on the Portel and relieve Ricco of the jersey.

Will Evans stay in yellow?

With Alejandro Valverde out of the frame thanks to losing so much time on Monday’s mountains stage, it now appears to be a two-way fight between Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Frank Schleck (CSC-Saxo Bank) for the overall. Schleck is just one second behind Evans, but this stage does not offer the opportunity to claw it back. Evans is too canny a rider to let Schleck go up the road again. In all likelihood, the jersey is safely on Evans’ back until the race hits the Alps on Saturday. Schleck should be happy to let Evans take the limelight – and all the pressure that goes with it – until the Alps.

Who’s wearing the jerseys?

Yellow
Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)

Green Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Polka-dots Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval)

White Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval)

CW’s tip for the win

Euskaltel have been very quiet this year and were trumped in Monday’s Pyrenean stage to Hautacam by Saunier Duval. Today offers the last chance for the Basque squad to show their colours in their heartland – we’d expect to see at least one orange jersey in the breakaway. Samuel Sanchez is far enough down the overall classification to have a free run at things. Yes, I know we picked him for Monday’s stage too.

RELATED LINK

Stage 11 info: includes map and profile

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second

Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees

Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse

Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage

Stage six: Ricco storms to win

Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win

Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead

Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break

Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint

Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary

Cavendish battles through Pyrenees

Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]

Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour

Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]

Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]

Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders

David Millar: the dope controls are working

Manuel Neltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour

Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit

Doping back in Tour de France headlines

Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]

Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]

Millar to go for yellow [stage six]

Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]

Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win

Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]

Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]

Who is Romain Feillu?

Cavendish disappointed with stage two result

Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey

Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?

Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec

Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win

Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

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