Tour de France 2012: Stage 17 live updates and blog
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Tour de France 2012 (Poster by Chungkong)
Stage 17 of the 2012 Tour de France between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Peyragudes will see the climbers flex their muscles for the last time.
Please join us for live blogging from 9:00 pm AEST with full coverage starting at 10:00pm.
This shortish stage (just 143.5 kilometres), is made for dynamic racing. Whether it pans out that way is another thing, but if Nibali or Van den Broeck want to take any time on Wiggins and Froome it has to be here.
In reality though, they are racing for the minor places. Things might get interesting if Froome’s second place overall was threatened, but the main battle will be played out between Voeckler and Kessiakoff in the fight for the polka-dot jersey.
Only a handful of points separate the two, but with five categorised climbs and 40 climbing points on offer, expect to see more of Voeckler’s facial contortions as the two mountain men go head to head, especially early.
The category one Col de Mente is crested at just 27.5 kilometres into the race. The 9.3 kilometre climb has an average gradient of 9.1 per cent.
It was the scene of a famous crash back in 1971 that saw race leader Luis Ocana have to abandon the race. If you are unfamiliar with the story, look it up, it is worth a read.
Two minor climbs and the intermediate sprint follow, before the hors-categorie Porte de Bales looms on the horizon. This 11.7 kilometre climb with a gradient of 7.7 percent is where Andy Schleck dropped his chain back in 2010.
The final climb of the day is another new one for the Tour. The Col de Peyragudes features part of the Peyresourde climb, then a three kilometre descent, before a steep final three kilometres to the mountain top finish. Rated category one, it is 15.4 kilometres long with an average gradient of 5.1 per cent.
Bradley Wiggins and his Sky juggernaut have passed every test placed in front of them so far, so don’t expect too much from their demoralised opponents. With the race all but over, pride will be the only motivating factor for the riders tonight.
Can Nibali finally gap Wiggins and claw back some time? Can Van den Broeck claim a stage victory? Can Evans regain some of the time he lost yesterday? Or will Sky round out their mountain campaign with Wiggins or Froome storming home to claim the stage?
Despite the apparent solidity of the general classification, there is still enough interest in this stage to make it compelling.
And who knows? If Wiggins starts pedalling squares, all hell could break loose!
Join us for all the action at 9:00 pm AEST.
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