Embrun-Alpe d’Huez, 210km

What will happen?
It?s a day of reckoning in the Alps today. The top three riders in the general classification are split by just eight seconds.

After yesterday?s cautious non-showdown between the overall contenders, CSC-Saxo Bank are going to have to do something very special to put time into Cadel Evans if Frank Schleck is to have any chance of staying in the yellow jersey to Paris.

It?s a big ask. Evans is far superior against the clock than any of his rivals and Schleck needs to build up a comfort zone today, otherwise the Australian will claw back every second in the final 53km time trial. Schleck lost one minute 47 seconds to Evans in the 29.5km stage four TT, he could feasibly lose nearly double that on Saturday.

CSC will collectively have to attack Evans on the final ascent on Alpe d?Huez. They know that Evans? weakness is his complete lack of team support in the mountains and his reluctance to launch an attack himself. However, it?s hard to see how they are going to put any meaningful time into Evans ? he has the ability to unshakably attach himself to a rival?s back wheel. It?s not going to stop CSC trying, and that?s going to lead to an explosive finale.

It?s worth noting that Schleck has previous Alpe d?Huez form ? he won there in the 2006 Tour, beating Damiano Cunego.

It could easily shape up to be one of the most exciting Tour stages for years.

What are the climbs like?
Today?s stage features some of the Tour?s most feared climbs: the Cols du Lauteret, Galibier and Telegraphe, and the final climb of Alpe d?Huez have made and broken many a rider?s Tour aspirations. Race organisers have made Alpe d?Huez the sting in the stage?s tail: a mountain top finish guaranteed to shake up the race.

Will Schleck stay in yellow?
Almost definitely. Frank Schleck?s only priority today is to gain time on Evans. If he isn?t in the race lead by the end of today by a wide margin, he?s lost the Tour.

Who’s wearing the jerseys?
Yellow
Frank Schleck (CSC)
Green Oscar Freire (Rabobank)
Polka-dot Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner)
White Andy Schleck (CSC)

CW’s tip for the win
It?s another tough one to pick. The overall contenders will be more concerned with watching each other than chasing down breaks, so a breakaway group has a high chance of success just as they did in yesterday?s stage 15. However, we?re going to say that CSC will drive the pace hard on Alpe d?Huez and vacuum up everything in their path. With Evans attempting to hold Schleck’s hand all the way up, we?ll go for Carlos Sastre as our pick for the win. Just.



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

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

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 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>>
Teams and riders>>
About the Tour>>