It may seem a long shot but the Saunier Duval leader will be well aware that if he survives the Col de la Colombiere and finishes in Le Grand Bornand in the front group tomorrow (Saturday) he could wear the yellow jersey for the first time since his Tour debut in 2000.

Even though he’s in the form of his life, CSC’s Fabian Cancellara is unlikely to be able to stay with the pace over the Colombiere. There is a big doubt over Andreas Kloden now it’s been confirmed he has a hairline fracture of the coccyx. Anyone who has ever injured that bone will know how painful it is to sit on a cushion, let alone a bicycle saddle to pedal 200 kilometres.

The chances of the Astana man keeping pace seem slim. And Filippo Pozzato, third overall, is not a renowned climber.

That leaves Millar, currently fourth, with a fantastic opportunity if he can find his climbing legs.

The stage from Bourg-en-Bresse goes over three small climbs before the first-category Col de la Colombiere, a 16-kilometre climb with an average gradient of 6.8 per cent, starts at the 163-kilometre mark.

Perhaps the most likely scenario is that a group will go clear early in the stage and, with Astana less inclined to work hard to chase now their two main men are injured, it could be an anarchic day.

But if the race is cautious and a big front group forms there is a chance Millar could profit.

Click here for details of the weekend’s stages