Tour de France 2012: Stage 18 live updates, blog
Tour de France 2012 (Poster by Chungkong)
Stage 18 of the 2012 Tour de France between Blagnac and Brive-la-Gaillarde will see the return of the sprinters. Please join us for live blogging from 7:30 pm AEST with full coverage starting at 10:00pm.
This long stage (222.5 kilometres) should see the sprinters fighting it out for stage honours.
It seems like an eternity since we have had a bunch sprint, and the likes of Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan will be looking to add to their stage victories while Goss and Farrar will be keen to get on the scoreboard.
Cavendish has kept a low profile so far at this Tour, due to the fact that Team Sky have been solely focused on delivering Bradley Wiggins safely to Paris, but with the general classification all but sown up, the Manxman may find himself with a few extra helpers from here on in.
In fact Cavendish could still walk away from this Tour with three stage wins should he claim victory today and then follow up on the Champs Elysees in two days time.
The Orica-GreenEdge cupboard is still bare and Goss will be itching to salvage something from the Tour. Or, maybe Gerrans, who has been the invisible man throughout the past three weeks, will attempt to get into a breakaway.
There are four small categorised climbs that a break could work with, although they shouldn’t really be enough to hinder the sprinters’ teams.
The hardest of the climbs is the category three Cote de Saint-Georges. It has a 10.3 per cent average gradient, but at only one kilometre in length and coming early in the stage, any dropped riders will be able to chase back without any worries.
The only hindrance to the sprinters will be the category four Cote de Lissac-sur-Couze which is crested with just ten kilometres to go. But at 1.9 kilometres, with a modest gradient of 5.7 per cent, it should present only a minor disruption to the sprint preparations.
Peter Sagan will be watchful at the intermediate sprint point, but with such a commanding lead in the green jersey competition, the other sprinters are unlikely to contest it. Stage wins are the name of the game now.
Join us for all the action from 7:30 pm tonight.