What will happen?
Getting down to the business end of the race now and it’s unbelievably tight at the top. This, and tomorrow’s long stage to Alpe d’Huez, are very difficult but for different reasons. There is no summit finish today. Instead there’s a 24-kilometre descent from the highest point in the race, the Bonette-Restefond, which is at 2,802 metres. It’s likely there will be some fireworks towards the top, but it’s likely to be slightly tentative, perhaps offering the chance for the stronger riders in the overall picture to gang up on the weak and possibly eliminate one of them from the running.
A long break like the one that succeeded on Sunday could steal the stage honours again because the gaps between the top six are so tight they will not be able to move until the latter stages of the day.
What are the climbs like?
Very high. The Col de la Lombarde is at 2,351 metres and is the same peak as Isola 2000, which has been used in the Tour in the past. They will most likely just ride over that, as they did the Col Agnel on Sunday. The Bonette-Restefonde is a different matter. It comes near the finish and could be strategically important. Racing at that sort of altitude introduces some more random factors – no one can know who will cope well on the day and who will crack. This is the sort of climb that plays into the hands of the specialists though.
Will Schleck stay in yellow?
Toss a coin. Heads he will, tails he won’t. Again, the margin is so slim that the slightest slip could cost him a minute or more. He has the advantage of knowing his team-mate Carlos Sastre is one of the six in the mix, but even so, he’s vulnerable. Anyone with a seven-second lead is vulnerable – and he’s not the best at descending…
Who’s wearing the jerseys?
Yellow Frank Schleck (CSC)
Green Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Polka-dot Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner)
White Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
CW’s tip for the win
Why did we do this to ourselves? If we could have predicted Simon Gerrans would win at Prato Nevoso we’d be millionaires sipping margaritas in Monte Carlo. Euskaltel need a result of some kind but they are not going as well as they have in the past. However, we’ve a feeling the overall favourites may catch any break on the Bonette, so we’ll go for Menchov.
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS|
Stage 15: Schleck takes lead in the Alps
Stage 14: Oscar Freire wins in Digne-les-Bains
Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win
Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 11: Arvesen wins
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|
Schleck ready to defend Tour lead [stage 15]
Rest day news round-up [July 21]
Saunier Duval riders: “We are honest”
Cavendish talks to Cycling Weekly after quitting Tour
Schleck savours first ever Tour de France jersey [stage 15]
Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today
Cavendish pulls out of the Tour
Barloworld to end cycling sponsorship
Ricco speaks on Italian television
Cavendish joins the all-time greats
Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli
Tour bosses say fight against doping continues
Ricco denies doping at the Tour
Saunier Duval pull out of Tour
Tour’s top ten changes
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour
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 Beltran 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?
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS|
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS|
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE|