Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tour Preview - Stage 11

This could very well be the Queen Stage of this year’s Tour de France. It’s only 148 km but with no less than four nasty climbs on the menu. Col de la Madeleine (Cat HC), Col de la Croix de Fer (Cat HC), Col du Mollard (Cat 2) and finally the last category 1 climb up to La Toussuire. If you aim for the polka dot jersey, this is the stage you need to be in the break. Still I have a feeling it will be one of the GC contenders who ends up winning this prestigious stage.

I know for a fact that especially Chris Anker Sørensen is very eager to get in the right break tomorrow. The Danish climber knows this is the day to be in front if his dream of the polka dot jersey should come true. Sørensen tried to save as much energy as possible on Stage 10 and we can expect him to attack right from the very bottom of Madeleine. Chris Anker Sørensen also knows what it takes to win in La Toussuire. Back in 2008 he finished an incredible solo ride in front all day by winning the stage in front of Pierrick Fedrigo and Levi Leipheimer - two riders I don’t expect much of on Stage 11 though.  Also Johnny Hoogerland will most likely try to get in the early break but I doubt the Dutchman will be flying since he still seems to be struggling to overcome his knee injury.

La Toussuire. 18 km - 6,1% average.
Click for larger image!
As stated in the beginning I think this will end up with a fight between the race’s best climbers. Team Sky never seemed to panic when Cadel Evans and Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the downhill section, neither when Jurgen Van den Broeck and Pierre Rolland attack over the top of the last climb. Bradley Wiggins knows how strong his team is and unless Evans and Nibali try to attack from far out, I doubt they will ever manage to shake British duo Wiggins and Froome.

I think a group of 10-15 of the GC riders will arrive more or less together at the bottom of La Toussuire and then we will see who have something left in the tank. I’m convinced Lotto-Belisol will try again with Jelle Vanendert and Jurgen Van den Broeck and this time it might work out much better than on Stage 10. I also expect Pierre Rolland to keep on attacking and with the big morale boost due to Voeckler’s (predicted) stage win, Rolland could make it two in a row for Team Europcar.

Yesterday I wrote about Alejandro Valverde and today he showed that his legs are really good. As expected he managed to stay with the favorites at all time and being over 10 minutes after Wiggins in the GC, I think Alejandro Valverde will give a real try on Stage 11.

Winner pick: Pierre Rolland or Jurgen Van den Broeck
Joker: Alejandro Valverde


  1. what about jelle vanendert, his the man

  2. mollema and schleck? thoughts?

  3. @1 - I think Lotto is all for Van den Broeck trying to get back on the podium, so Vanendert will only be there to help him.

    @2 - Schleck is an option. He could do some damage if ready. Mollema not so much, he's still suffering from his crashes. Still doubt if he will finish this Tour..