What will happen?
With the Alps and the decisive stages of this year?s Tour de France looming large on the horizon, today?s stage is likely to see yet another break go clear early in the hope the overall contenders and their teams will be saving their bullets for the showdown for the yellow jersey.
The 194.5km stage cuts across the northern tip of the Camargue but then gradually climbs into Provence and the foothills of the Alps.
There is a category four climb mid-stage but the roads dip and rise for most of the last 100km, meaning it will be easy for a break to stay away and easy for the bunch to give up the chase.
A final climb just nine kilometres from the finish is a perfect place for attacks either from the break or from the bunch although the last kilometre is dead straight and perfect for a bunch sprint.
Can Mark Cavendish win again?
If the stage ends with another bunch sprint, Cavendish could take his fifth stage win but this time the odds are really against him.
Cavendish admitted yesterday that he is now very tired and so must be his Columbia team mates but he never holds back if he?s got a chance of getting to the finish line first.
At the start in Nimes, Cavendish told Cycling Weekly: ?Although I?m feeling tired and it?s a tough stage but if Columbia chase the break, if I?m still there and if it?s a normal sprint, I could win, but that?s three ifs.?
Robbie McEwen (Silence) and Oscar Freire were worried about being beaten again by Cavendish but also pointed out the difficulties of the stage. Freire is going for the green jersey this year but his better climbing skills make him the big favourite. He could get over the late climb and still win the stage in the sprint or at least pick up some more points.
Will Evans stay in yellow?
CSC might try and scare the nervous Aussie and test his team but more than likely it will be a final day of calm before the showdown in the Alps. Cadel will almost certainly get to kiss the yellow Credit Lyonnais lion yet again, but will it be for the last time?
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
1) Take a blindfold and a pin
2) Stick pin into list of riders
If you really insist, we’ll stick our necks out and go with the French riders. David Moncoutié’s won in Digne before, Pierrick Fedrigo’s due a decent break, and Sylvain Chavanel’s been perky.Watch and laugh as somebody else entirely goes up the road. Probably Sandy Casar.
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
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
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
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS
Life at the Tour part three
Life at the Tour part two
Life at the Tour part one
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE
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