Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tour Preview - Stage 14

In between two sprint stages this should be a stage for a breakaway to make it. There is a hard category2 climb, Col du Portel (5,3 km - 6,3%), starting after 22 km and we should see a break taking its final shape here. From the top there is 85 km “flat” until the real final begins with two category1 climbs right after each other.

First up is Port de Lers (11,4 km - 7%) and right after the descent it’s time for a the feared Tour debutant Mur de Péguère (9,3 km - 7,9%). The last 3,3 km of Mur de Péguère have an average percentage of over 12% with parts up to 18%! There is still about 40 km to go from the top of Mur de Péguère, so it might be a good idea not to go solo too early with 20 km flat towards the finishing line.

As I said I think this will be a day a breakaway will make it all the way to the line. There are 20 KOM points for the polka dot jersey on the last two climbs and I know Chris Anker Sørensen is very eager to get out there and see if he can get the jersey of the shoulders of his Scandinavian rival Fredrik Kessiakoff. Also Thomas Voeckler will be interested in getting in the break and see if he can get back in the fight for the jersey plus taking another stage win. Voeckler is excellent on the descents and show good condition on the uphill sections too, so he is definitely one of the main guys to look out for.

Mur de Péguère - 9,3 km - 7,9%
Click for larger view!
On Stage 13 Luis Leon Sanchez tried to take the peloton by surprise in the last two kilometers, but in disbelieve he saw the yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins rail him back in on the very final meters. Sanchez was obvious annoyed with Wiggins in the heat of the moment but afterwards he apologized on Twitter, saying sorry to the race leader. Maybe Luis Leon Sanchez took a look in the race book and realized it might be a good idea not to make Wiggins an enemy on the road if he wants to get away in the break on Stage 14. The stage is made for Sanchez and I wouldn’t be surprised if him and Voeckler once again found each other side by side in the winning break.

Among the GC contenders it’s no secret that this is a stage where Vincenzo Nibali and Cadel Evans need to attack. Both Nibali and Evans have shown they are not afraid of attacking on the descents and if they can manage to isolate Wiggins just a little bit before that - maybe on the last steep part of Mur de Péguère - we should be in for another dramatic finish!

Winner pick: Luisle Sanchez
Joker: Vincenzo Nibali

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