Friday, 23 July 2010

Stage 19 Preview: The Individual Time Trial to Glory

Tomorrows stage is the only time-trial stage of the 2010 edition. Winding its way through the streets of Bordeaux for fifteen kilometres, with avenues and buildings to shelter the riders, the route suddenly leaves the city and arrives in the open countryside, amidst the vineyards, as the route passes through the famous landmarks of the Haut Médoc wine-making region, such as Margaux, one château after another. The finish in Pauillac is magnificent. Famous for its lamb and its magnificent view over the River Gironde, Pauillac is the twelfth town in Gironde to welcome the Tour and the second in Médoc after Lacanau in 1976. On the face of it, this time trial will merely fine-tune the classifications; there is no way the seventeenth-placed rider will grab first place. The last time trial when the Yellow Jersey changed hands on the penultimate day was in 2006, when Landis, who jumped from 3rd at the time to first, triumphed.

If Schleck is serious about taking back the Yellow Jersey he will have to be fast. Contador on paper at least, is the faster of the pair. However they have both endured the trials and tortures that the last days of the Tour has thrown at them in the Pyrenees. Contador has the advantage, starting last in the day. Can he secure a third Tour win?

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