Monday, 18 July 2011

Stage 16 Review

Tomorrow Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux will great the Tour for the first time as it hosts the start of the first stage of the final week. Despite it being a debut stage of the Tour, this charming village in the Drôme Provençale, nestling among vineyards, truffle oaks and purple seas of lavender, has on occasion hosted Paris-Nice, being one of the race’s highlights in 2009.

Departing here and heading for the Montagne de Lure for the main stage of the Race to the Sun, Alberto Contador was majestic in the final ascent. Winning the stage, he moved up in the general classification to take the number one spot, with a comfortable lead over Luis Leon Sanchez. However he lost the race the next day in the stage in Fayence because he was ravenous and had no reserves. This led to the start of the endless discussion about the vulnerability of “El Pistolero".

As the race heads into Gap, it crosses the Col de Manse, then drops down again into the finish after completing a small circuit. Steadily rising, the stage will suit the likes of Flecha. But with riders feeling refreshed after today's repos, there could well be some small attacks before the fireworks that are sure to be ignited on the Galibier later in the week.

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