Friday, 15 July 2011

Stage 14 Preview

Tomorrow's stage from Saint-Gaudens to the summit of the Plateau de Beille, last of the Pyrenean stages, sees six tough tests: the Col de Portet-d’Aspet, the Col de la Core, the Col de Latrape, the Col d’Agnes, the Port de Lers and finally the finish itself at the Plateau de Beille. The 168km stage is short, the climbs culmative. Attacks will come thick, fast and right from the start as the GC start to unleash their power.

With every winner here going on to win the Tour the echos will ring in the ears of the men hoping to wear the Maillot Jaune in Paris a week later. Contador will be looking to rid himself of the Schlecks who have been waging a tough psychological battle with him knowing his ego is bruised as much as his knee from his tricky start to the Tour. With Evans and Basso sizing each other up, their tense rivalry almost palatable, they too will look to make a strong effort here.

But the dark horse of this years Tour it seems has been the aptly named Thor. Shrugging off the shackles of sprinting that would in the past have seen him struggle in the back of the peloton on the high mountain stages, his transformation into all rounder has seen him sour up to summits with a lightning speed to match his namesake. If he can stay in touch with the wheels of this foursome and their faithful entourage he could well continue this stunning display of what a strong-willed man can achieve.

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