What will happen?
The news of Riccardo Ricco?s positive for EPO stunned the peloton and annulled most of the attacks on Thursday allowing the Mark Cavendish (Columbia) to win his third stage.
The attackers are expected to return to the fore today and the up and down terrain in the hills behind Montpellier are perfect for break to build up a huge lead.
With no intermediate sprint early on the stage, even the likes of Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) will be happy to let a break and yellow jersey Cadel Evans and his weak Silence squad will happily let them gain time all day.
The sun is shining in the South of France and there is also a strong wind blowing, so expect a break of at least a dozen riders to go clear and finish with a 10, 15 or even 20 minute lead on the bunch.
Can Mark Cavendish win again?
Of course he can?if the stage ends in a bunch sprint. However the young British rider has won so often and so well that the other teams may well and change tactics and go for success in a breakaway, rather than being beaten and humiliated yet again in a sprint.
Cav is suffering after the Pyrenees but if the Columbia try and control the breaks and ride for another sprint win, there is no doubt the Manxman will dig deep and pull out another super fast finishing sprint.
Cavendish is rightly honouring the Tour de France by saying he wants to go all the way to Paris but he must also know that he cannot put himself too far into the red if he wants to be at his best for the Madison in the Olympic Games. That means today is probably his last chance of a final sprint and he and the Columbia team might not want to miss out on win number four.
Will Evans stay in yellow?
Cadel Evans still leads Frank Schleck (CSC) by a single second but his yellow jersey looks secure for another day.
Only an attack from CSC is the wind could change things but Riis is cleverly keeping his powder dry for an all-out assault in the Alps and letting Evans sweat with the responsibility of the yellow jersey.
Who’s wearing the jerseys?
Yellow Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto)
Green Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Polka-dot Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)
White Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
CW’s tip for the win
Any Frenchman is a good each way bet, but we?d love another sprint finish and love a fourth win from Cavendish. Allez Mark!
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS|
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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: 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?
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS|
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS|
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE|