Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tour Preview - Stage 17

This is the last day in the mountains and therefore also the last chance for many riders to snatch a stage win in this year’s Tour de France. Ideally I would like to see the GC contenders fighting for the stage but if the past is any reference it most likely won’t happen. Only if Liquigas and/or Lotto-Belisol take control and start working in the peloton there may be a chance for favorites to win the stage. I think a break will make it and once again I point to a Spanish guy.

Juanjo Cobo surprised quite a few by winning the Vuelta España last year but unlike Chris Froome he hasn’t really kept the same level in this Tour. In the last days in mountains Cobo has been looking better and better though and I think he has his eyes on this particular stage. The Spanish riders are always extra motivated in the Pyrenees and if I’m sure Juanjo Cobo is eager to prove what happened in the Vuelta was a one-time-only. Cobo also knows this stage very well. In 2007 Stage 15 of the Tour had both Col de Menté, Port de Balès and Col de Peyresourde on the menu and back then the Spaniard took 4th place on the stage - Alexander Vinkourov actually won the stage, but was DQ afterwards due to a positive doping test. “I have great memories from 2007 and I hope I can win this time”, Cobo said on the rest day. I think Juanjo Cobo will manage to get in the right breakaway and from there he will be very difficult to beat showing the last days condition.  
The last hard 15,5 km of the stage
Click for larger view!

If it should come back together before the last climb I would put my money on Chris Froome. On Stage 16 on Peyresourde he once again showed how strong he is right now and according to himself he’s only getting stronger and stronger as the race progresses. It’s clear that Vincenzo Nibali and Jurgen Van den Broeck will have to try something but if Froome is as good as he has been so far I would be surprised if he goes solo on the last km and win the stage.

Winner pick: Juanjo Cobo
Joker: Chris Froome

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