Breakaway expected on tough day in Vosges
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STAGE 13: Vittel - Colmar
Friday, July 17
WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
After three days in the central French flatlands, the Tour is back in the mountains. Today’s 200-kilometre route from Vittel to Colmar has five categorised climbs on offer, as the peloton ascends into Alsace through the Vosges mountain range.
The day’s toughest ascent is the first-category Col du Platzerwasel (138km), 8.7 kilometres at 7.6% average gradient.
However, the day’s final climb, the second-category Col du Firstplan, is likely to be the most decisive: it comes just 20 kilometres from the stage finish in Colmar.
There are intermediate sprints on route at Xertigny (43km), Gerardmer (111.5km) and Luttenbach (124.0km).
Stage 13 map and profile >>
Estimated finish time – 1617 BST
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
The first sprint in Xertigny, which comes at the end of a long uphill drag, could be the scene for a Cavendish-Hushovd showdown. However, Columbia may be content to let an escape roll, hovering up the available points.
Indeed, this day is ideal for a breakaway; despite the tough parcours, the peloton will ride tempo for the majority of the day with the Alps in mind. Expect animators like Sylvain Chavanel or David Moncoutié to be on the move up front.
The bunch could well split on the tough Platzerwasel, which comes 60 kilometres from the stage finish. However, the real fireworks should start going off on the Col du Firstplan, an ideal launchpad for the stage-winning attack.
Though the Firstplan is not particularly steep, Astana may have to weather attacks from the likes of Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans and Carlos Sastre, who need to gain back time before the time-trial at Annecy.
MEN TO WATCH
Cadel Evans – The Australian is currently languishing in 18th, over three minutes down on GC, after a disastrous team time trial. Evans has been trying desperately to get that time back, even trying to escape yesterday on a flat stage.
Andy Schleck – The younger of the Schleck brothers needs to take back some time on Contador et al as he is weaker in the time trials. Today could be the day.
Bradley Wiggins – Wiggins has been excelling himself so far this year, climbing with the best of them. Not likely to attack, he’ll be sure to be riding at or near the front to avoid any time splits.
Christophe Moreau – The old warhorse has been anonymous thus far, but he could be up the road today. The race finish is just 80 kilometres from his home in Belfort, so the 2000 prologue winner will be motivated to do well.
David Moncoutié – Every day we say Moncoutié or Chavanel, and every day they miss the break. If the Cofidis man is to make his planned assault on the polka-dot jersey, he needs to get up the road in the coming days.
Egoi Martinez and Franco Pellizotti – The pair are currently vying for the King of the Mountains jersey. Pellizotti looked stronger yesterday, and the Giro third-place finisher may have the pedigree to sustain his challenge through the Alps.
CW’S TIP TO WIN
Moncoutié to turn around his and Cofidis’s mediocre Tour.
WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS
Yellow - Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale)
Green - Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC)
Polka-dot - Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
White - Tony Martin (Team Columbia-HTC)
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