At last the mountains have arrived!
The riders head into the Pyrenees,starting from Castres they head South to Ax 3 Domaines.It’s 195km long with a cat 4 climb after 26km and the sprint point after 119.5km.It will be interesting to see if the sprinters have given up on the jersey or if they’ll keep on contesting these sprints.Straight after the sprint we head up!The riders climb the HC climb the Col de Pailheres,it’s 15.3km long at an average of 8%.The climb crests at 2001m which is the highest point of the race.The climb has sections of 9% but near the top we have a 10% and 10.5% section,just before they hit the top.
They are 2 brutal climbs and it’s going to be another hot day for the riders.
Predicting the day will be hard but I’ll give it a bash!
Orica GreenEdge will not try and control the race,in fact they will send Simon Clarke in the break and sit up.Early in the race we will have all the big teams looking at each other and seeing who will do the work of controlling the race.This could result in the break getting a massive lead and if the teams aren’t careful,a lead too big to bring back.
All riders who want to win the KOTM jersey will try and get in the break.We will have Clarke,Nieve,Feillu,Kadri and possibly Voeckler.I don’t think Pierre Rolland will be there as he should be much more interested in the GC at this moment in the race.Much has been made of the Movistar line up and they have to try and attack tomorrow.If Sky decide to take up the pace,then expect an early attack on the 1st climb to try and isolate Froome and Porte,although it is the first of many mountain stages and the teams may decide to have a good look at each other,instead of all out attacking.
If Movistar do go for it then I think Rui Costa will be sent up the road.Quintana has crashed 3 days running,so I think he’ll be resting in the bunch.With lots of teams having 2 or more attacking riders,there are a massive number of possibilities but if you want to take on Froome you have to send riders up the road to disrupt the power metre train of Sky.
Another thing to think about is that in 2011 and 2012,a breakaway succeeded for the first time on stage 8,spooky stuff!
And another piece of history is that the winner of the Tour very rarely wins the 1st mountain stage,in fact I can’t find the last time it happened.
This makes me believe that Chris Froome or Alberto Contador will not win stage 8,but a breakaway will.
I will repost this tomorrow morning with my choice,but just now I’ll leave you waiting!
So I’m now convinced a break will make it!Both Voeckler and Feillu rode themselves out of contention yesterday and are my big 2 picks.Clarke will also be present in the break but I think the French boys will see him off.
You can still get 20/1 on Voeckler with Ladbrokes and Feillu is a tasty 200/1 with most bookies.
If a team does control the race and manages the break the 2 climbs should make for brilliant watching.