Live: 2012 Tour de France – Stage 10 – The Alps begin
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Tour de France 2012 (Poster by Chungkong)
Stage 10 takes the 2012 Tour de France to the Alps for the first time. Live blogging of the stage between Macon and Bellegarde-sur-Valserine begins at 8:30 pm AEST with full coverage starting at 10:00 pm.
Comments will be added to the bottom of this post as the race progresses.
Finally, after 10 days of racing, the Alps are here. Tonight’s 194.5 kilometre stage is dominated by the hors categorie Col du Grand Colombier.
At 17 kilometres long and with an average gradient of 7.1 per cent this monster of a climb is the next challenge for race leader Bradley Wiggins.
So far the Team Sky leader has passed every test with flying colours. He has kept out of trouble on the fast, furious and nervous early stages. He has kept pace with his rivals on the steep, medium mountain stages.
He smashed Evans in the individual time trial. Now his last series of exams are about to begin. The high mountains.
For anyone who still harbours doubts about Wiggins’ ability to close out this race, the next two stages will provide the answers.
Evans, Nibali, Menchov and Van den Broeck need to start, not only pegging back lost time, but gaining time over the Brit superstar – significant time – because if they don’t, they will be blown away come the final time trial.
Evans has battled hard all Tour but is yet to gap Wiggins. He has to try in the Alps, if not tonight, then definitely tomorrow night. He can’t afford to wait for the Pyrenees. Nibali and Menchov have been a fraction off the pace, but they too must take some affirmative action or they won’t even be racing for the minor placings in Paris.
The one to watch though may be Jurgen Van den Broeck. The Lotto Belisol climber suffered an inopportune puncture on the first medium mountain stage, but fought back strongly despite not being able to rejoin the leading group.
The following day he looked comfortable climbing with the leaders and even attacked and gained an advantage in the final kilometre before being reeled back in.
At 5’20” down on general classification he needs to try something and an attack on the Grand Colombier is not beyond him. He just needs to have confidence in his form and throw caution to the wind.
Team Sky will be organised though. The twin Aussie super domestiques of Porte and Rogers will set a solid pace early before leaving the protection/diversion duties to Chris Froome.
Froome’s position on general classification means that he now also needs to be marked, although one wouldn’t want to be around Wiggins should his trusty sidekick accidentally fall into the yellow jersey.
There are two other climbs tonight – the category two Cote de Corlier at the 90 kilometre mark and the category three Col de Richemond which is crossed with just 20 kilometres to go.
The Grand Colombier stands in between them, 150 kilometres into the race. There is an intermediate sprint point just before the main climb and Peter Sagan should still be in contention for it, although his Liquigas team mates may be starting to marshal around Nibali in readiness for the big ascent.
The stage ends with a twenty kilometre dash downhill to the finishing line so expect some more frantic descending.
So with Sagan sprinting, Wiggins climbing, Evans straining, breakneck descending, all set against the glorious back drop of the high Alps, tonight’s stage is one not to be missed.