Bourg d’Oisans – Saint Etienne, 196.5km

What will happen?

With the high mountains now behind them, the overall contenders should – and we repeat should – be resting up before Saturday’s decisive final time trial.

The profile is too lumpy for the pure sprinters – what’s left of them – and their teams to bother with, they’ll be shaking the Alps-induced lactic acid out of their legs and waiting for tomorrow’s marginally less lumpy run from Cerilly to Saint Amand Montrond.

Today is a day for the escape artists to make their mark, and ones that can stay away on the second category Croix de Montvieux, then the climb to Cote de Sorbiers and down to the finish in Saint Etienne.

A likely looking bunch of riders who’ve not featured in the race should form early and gain 10 or so minutes with ease. They’ll need to build up a good margin of minutes to stay away from any chasers on the Colle de Parmenie and Montvieux.

What are the climbs like?

Although there’s nothing to match the high mountains of the past few Alpine stages, there are still three categorised climbs included in today’s route: the third cat Colle de Parmenie, long 14km climb up the second cat Croix de Montvieux and the fourth cat Cote de Sorbiers around 10km from the finish.

Will Sastre stay in yellow?

CSC-Saxo Bank will be rallying behind their new leader, and with several big mountains on today’s stage there’s no way climbing ace Sastre will get ambushed in the hills. And then he’s got the likes of Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt to back him up in the flatter sections. He’s safe for now.

Who’s wearing the jerseys?

Yellow
Carlos Sastre (CSC)

Green Oscar Freire (Rabobank)

Polka-dot Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner)

White Andy Schleck (CSC)

CW’s tip for the win

Ah, the daily lottery that is picking a stage winner. It really could be anyone today, but we’re going for Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux), who’s had a bit of a quiet Tour so far.

RELATED LINK

Stage 18 info: map and profile



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 17: Sastre wins on Alpe d’Huez, takes lead

Stage 16: Dessel wins

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

Analysis: tactical battle on L’Alpe d’Huez [stage 17]

Schleck promises to attack main rivals

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

Stage 17

Stage 15

Stage 14

Stage 13

Stage 12

Stage 11

Stage 11

Stage 10

Stage nine

Stage eight

Stage seven

Stage six

Stage five

Stage four

Stage three

Stage two

Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part five

Life at the Tour part four

Life at the Tour part three

Life at the Tour part two

Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>

News and features>>

All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>

Day by day summary>>

Route & stages>>

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About the Tour>>