Friday, 22 July 2011

Stage 20 Preview

When the organisers planned the 2011 Tour, they had in mind that the Maillot Jaune would have already been decided. But who could have predicted the turn of events that unfolded to test almost every rider of the peloton in one way or another through the course of the 3 weeks of racing. From mechanicals to crashes, car accidents to unexpected attacks, this Tour has seen it all and on the penultimate stage there is no clear podium line-up for Sunday's finish in Paris.

It seems almost a fitting tribute to the town that gave birth to the Maillot Jaune ceremony in 1919, when Eugène Christophe was presented the first Golden Fleece of the race leader, that no clear winner has emerged leaving Grenoble ready to crown the winner with the most coveted jersey in the whole of cycling.

The "mountain" time trial is almost misleading in its very name. Despite its alpine setting, there are no actual climbs to test the riders, the 42km route rolling in a way that would suit a strong man like Thor Hushovd. While specialists are normally favourites for a Time Trial, it seems unlikely that a specialist will triumph here with the best time. The riders who have saved their strength through the alpine stages are the riders who will fair best in this test tomorrow, while those who have given there all through the climatic stages in the hope of gaining enough time to be cushioned through the Time Trial may well find they have nothing left to give.

Ultimately it will be a case of sheer determination as the two battles unfold in this complex drama that has become the 2011 Tour de France. While the riders who are looking to take the best time and with it the accolade of winning the penultimate stage go all out for personal glory, there will be an even greater test that will overshadow the stage winners success as Evans and Andy Schleck give everything they can give, every ounce of strength, determination, courage and grit to come away as victor in the greatest show on Earth. Despite predictions, training, form and statistics, it really will come down to who wants it the most.

1 comment :

  1. If it comes down to heart, my vote is with Thomas Voekler. What a fabulous story that would be! Great post!