Live: 2012 Tour de France – Stage 7 – Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles
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Tour de France 2012 (Poster by Chungkong)
Stage seven of the 2012 Tour de France to be contested between Tomblaine and La Planche des Belles Filles promises to be a beauty. Please join us for live blogging from 8:30pm AEST with full coverage starting at 10:00pm.
The sprinters have had their fun and now it’s time for the general classification riders to test their form as the race finally swoops upward with intent.
Serious time gaps could be opened up today as the race travels over three categorised climbs, including the outrageously steep La Planche des Belles Filles.
After 199 kilometres and traversing two category three climbs of approximately three kilometres and six percent each, the riders will find themselves having to negotiate gradients of up to 24 percent as they climb to the first summit finish of this year’s Tour.
It is predicted that most riders will alter the gearing on their bikes in a bid to combat the hellish final kilometres and only the very strongest will make it to the top unscathed.
Expect a peloton blown to pieces. Expect a final selection dwindling in numbers until only the very, very best are left. Expect time gaps.
The climb itself is not a long one – only six kilometres – but its varying gradient and insanely steep ramps will wreck havoc.
While the Tour may not be won or lost here, the winner will go into the remainder of the race with a huge psychological advantage over his rivals.
It is the kind of climb that Alberto Contador would have loved, but in his absence Cadel Evans will attempt to tighten the screws on fellow Tour favourite Bradley Wiggins.
Vincenzo Nibali, anonymous so far in this edition, may also stretch his legs, knowing that he must take every opportunity to steal time from the all rounders such as Evans, Wiggins and Denis Menchov.
Frank Schleck, Robert Gesink and Ryder Hesjedal need to try and pick up time lost after being involved in yesterday’s crash and could ignite the race with some audacious attacks. It will be interesting to see how they approach the Tour from here on in.
Will they honestly believe they still have a chance of overall victory or will they concede that their Tour is over? We’ll find out more about the extent of their injuries, and more importantly their state of mind after tonight’s stage.
Sadly too, Michael Morkov, that brave Dane from Saxo Bank-Tinkoff, will finally lose his beloved polka-dot jersey. Morkov has endeared himself to all with his endeavour to get into every single breakaway possible in order to be the first over all the category four climbs.
His meticulous accumulation of the scant number of points on offer has given him several pleasing days in the King of the Mountain jersey, something that he has enjoyed so much, that he even painted his power metre with red dots.
But the star of this show will be the mountain itself. Despite having never appeared in the Tour before, it is already being compared to the Giro’s Monte Zoncolon and the Vuelta’s Angliru.
Indeed, so new is this climb that the top part of the road had not even been built when the Tour’s route was first announced!
And don’t be fooled by that attractively sounding name, La Planche des Belles Filles (belle filles meaning beautiful girls). It refers to the tragic mass suicide of a group of young girls, who, in 1635 during the Thirty Years War, preferred to drown themselves in the mountain’s lake rather than face ill treatment from brutal enemy soldiers.
And on that note, let the stage begin!