Breakaway artists looking to upset the sprinters
Benoit Vaugrenard, Tour de France 2009, stage 10
STAGE 12: Tonnerre – Vittel
Thursday, July 16
WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
Today’s stage is a bit lumpier than yesterday’s as the race heads eastwards through vineyard country to Vittel, a town made famous for its mineral water.
It’s another transition stage before the race heads into the Vosges mountains, and later, the Alps.
There are six categorised climbs along the route; they are only minor climbs, but with the Alps looming over the peloton it may be a day for a breakaway. Just like a casino, the sprinters’ teams don’t win every time.
Stage 12 map and profile>>>
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
With so many categorised climbs dotted along the way today, as well as some that are not categorised, the odds looked stacked in the favour of the breakaway specialists.
The roads are predominantly twisty back roads, which could also suit a break’s chances. The French missed out on Bastille Day, but have had a good Tour so far this year with three stage wins so will be looking to capitalise again today.
With some really tough days in the mountains approaching, the likelihood is the peloton will treat today’s stage as a de facto rest day and allow the break some leeway. Cavendish said yesterday that only one other stage interests him in this year's race, the Champs Elysées, but don't discount him if it does all come back together.
MEN TO WATCH
Sylvain Chavanel – The Frenchman has kept an uncharacteristically low profile so far this year. Could he be saving up for something spectacular?
Jérôme Pineau – the Quick Step man has a string of top ten results to his name in the Tour, his best being a second place in 2002. The rolling profile suits his attacking style.
Mikhail Ignatiev – The Russian Katusha rider has been in almost every break of note so far. A strong all-rounder, he’ll like today’s route.
CW’S TIP TO WIN
Sylvain Chavanel – we’ve picked Chavanel as our tip to win before, and so far, he hasn’t come up with the goods. Today could be his lucky day.
WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS?
Yellow – Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale)
Green – Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC)
Polka-dot – Egoi Martinez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
White – Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC)
Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban's record
Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win
Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire
stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out
Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance
Stage six: Millar's brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs
Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage
Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second
Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage
Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador
Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint
Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial
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TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS
Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Andy Jones
Team presentation by Graham Watson
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Cycling Weekly's rider profiles