2011 Tour de France-Stage 11

13 Jul

Stage 11 was a day for the sprinters and the requisite breakaway. Although to be fair, this breakaway of 6 worked well together and put the peloton through quite a bit of pain to catch them just before the finish – so kudos to the breakaway.

Kudos to Mark Cavendish too, who on a perfect bunch sprint kind of stage (albeit a rainy one) made the win look pretty easy, it certainly wasn’t close.

The real fun starts tomorrow –  MOUNTAINS.

stag 12

And, not just any any mountains, but the Pyrenees.

Tomorrow is a particularly tough day with 3 major climbs, starting with a category 1 climb, followed by the HC rated (so bad, it is beyond category) Col du Tourmalet and then just to make sure no one has anything left, another beyond category climb, the Luz Ardiden with the finish line at the summit.

Whew!

Another factor that will play into Stage 12 is tomorrow is Bastille Day, France’s national day. That means the French riders and teams will want to make a good showing and if they can’t do that at least get in a breakaway so they can get camera time. Look for French national champion, Sylvain Chavanel, to be in the mix too.

For Tour leader and Frenchman, Thomas Voeckler, Bastille Day will play out differently. It will certainly serve as extra motivation to keep the yellow jersey; tomorrow will be so challenging he’ll need all the help he can get. For any rider losing the yellow jersey is tough, but for a Frenchman to lose it on Bastille day would be especially grim. Voeckler is one tough bike racer and will try his hardest to keep the lead and the malliot jaune.

Other things to look for:  Contador will try to gain minutes to reduce his deficit to the Schleck brothers and Cadel Evans as well as other well placed GC (general classification) riders. The Schlecks and Evans will most likely cover those so I don’t expect a major shakeup between the favorites. The favorites will most likely just check each other out, looking for signs of vulnerability and bide their time.  But who knows, in this Tour anything can happen.

The thing we can count on happening tomorrow – a grueling and exciting day of racing.

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