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?
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.

Stage 18 info: map and profile


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


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?


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


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


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