TOUR RESTS UP BEFORE PYRENEES
The 170 riders left in the Tour de France enjoyed the first rest day of this year’s race in Bordeaux on Monday before getting ready to face the climbs of the Pyrenees.
The riders flew from Lorient to Bordeaux on Sunday night in time to Italy win the World Cup and then after an extra couple of hours in bed most went training for a couple of hours to keep their legs turning.
The afternoon was reserved for press conferences and massage with Floyd Landis in the headlines, revealing he will undergo a hip replacement after the Tour because of a degenerative bone condition caused by a crash in 2002. Landis is currently allowed to take cortisone to help fight the problem. He admitted he is often in pain but promised he will be trying to win the Tour.
“I can ride at 100% but it’s time for me to ride without pain,” Landis said.
“I’m in good form and I want to see what I’m capable of in the next two weeks.”
On Tuesday the Tour faces its last flat stage before two days in the Pyrenees. The 169.5km ninth from Bordeaux to Dax is a classic transfer stage and should see Robbie McEwen (Davitamon) fighting with Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Daniele Bennati (Lampre).
The Pyrenees start with a relatively easy day of 190km from Cambo-les Bains to Pau. The stage ends with a flat final 30kms but the early Col de Soudet (Hors category, 14.7km at 7.3 avg) and the Col de Marie Blanque (Cat 1, 9.3km, 7.7%) could cause some problems after a week of flat roads.
Things get more serious on Wednesday with the 206km 11th stage from Tarbes to Cal d’Aran. The stages starts with the legendary Col du Tourmalet (Hors cat, 18.3km, 7.7%avg) after 50km and then crosses three other category one climbs before finishing in Spain at the summit of the Puerto de Beret. The final climb is relatively easy but the stage will be decisive.
After their excellent team performance in the time trial T-Mobile are determined to keep the yellow jersey even if it passes from Sergei Gonchar to Andreas Kloden or even Patrick Sinkewitz.
Floyd Landis is now the biggest threat to T-Mobile’s dominance because he can both climb and time trial well. Discovery Channel seem lost without Lance Armstrong but he has announced he will now be at the Tour in the final week to motivate on his former team mates.
If you are looking for an outsider to cheer for, how about tough Aussie Cadel Evans (Davitamon). He was eighth last year and must be good for a place on the podium this time.
Live updates and fast after stage reports will be back on cyclingweekly.co.uk on Tuesday.