Thursday, 15 July 2010

Stage 11 Preview: Back to the sprinters

So far the riders have had three or four significant days at the start of the race, before encountering four fairly difficult days. This route, which sets off from Sisteron (with its citadel) for a finish in the Drôme, should provide a sprint finish, despite the presence of the Col de Cabre pass.

The 184.5 km route starts in Sisteron, a town familiar to cyclist of the Paris-Nice and a stage town for the first time, and finishes in Bourg-lès-Valence, now on a par with its great neighbour Valence which has also hosted only one stage of the Tour, in 1996. Bourg had a practice run in 2009, hosting the start of a time-trial on the Dauphiné Libéré, won by the reigning world champion Bert Grabsch who outshone Cadel Evans and David Millar with his victory.

With Cavendish edging closer to Hushovd in the race for the Green "points" Jersey, the Norweigan will be looking to contest for the intermediate sprint points. If Cavendish is to have a realistic chance of pulling on the jersey in Paris, he will need to be on the look out to do the same; stage wins may not be enough to take it. A sprint finish is the aim here today, and with Hushovd, Petacchi and Cavendish on form, and Farrar now recovering, we are sure to have an exciting finish. Renshaw will have to think quick, if he is to deliver his man to victory, as the teams are now more familiar with the tactics of HTC-Columbia and know not to let them control the action. Farrar, who has been riding since his fall on the Pave of the Hell of the North with a fractured wrist will be on the look out for the solace of a stage victory. Having jumped on their train to lead Cavenndish to his second victory, Renshaw may find that Garmin-Transitions see him coming this time. But with Lampre bringing their man Petacchi to the fore, Renshaw is sure to have options. Will this be Cavendish's third victory of the Tour?

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