After finally finishing the traditionally flat week one of the Tour de France that as usual did little in changing the GC, we are now entering Stage 8 and thus the first stage in the Pyrenees. We’ll have live updates from 10.00pm AEST.
Tonight signifies the real beginning of the war that is about to ensue in pursuit of the overall title.
The stage will be a tough 195km journey from Castres to the ski resort of Ax 3 Domaines.
It features a 15km Hors Category climb at an average gradient of 8 percent that summits 44km out from the line and finishes 36.2km from the start of a 7.8km Category 1 ascent to the end of the stage, that will take out whatever is left in the riders legs in within no time.
These heavy climbs, that are sure to leave behind most of the peloton, coupled with this being the first proper mountain stage where the GC contenders will have plenty left in their legs.
It means that there will certainly be no holding back in today’s stage.
We could see battle one of the war between the overall contenders of Le Tour through tonight’s route.
Riders such as Christopher Froome, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, the out of form Andy Shleck and even little known podium finisher at last year’s Vuelta, Joaquim Rodriguez of the Katusha outfit could all be in contention.
These overall contenders, as well as the likes of specialist climbers such as Pierre Rolland of Europcar and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar, are sure to be gunning for the stage victory.
For the first time in this year’s race produce a number of attacks throughout a stage, which in the process will set the race into a frenzy.
As tonight’s stage is likely to be the first showdown between the main contenders for the Malliot Jaune heading into Paris, a key psychological edge could be gained by the GC rider that gains the most time on his rivals.
It could also be a good form guide on the form of this top group of riders; a crucial trait that has yet to be tested in this year’s Tour.
This is the stage that marks the real beginning of this year’s race for the general classification contenders.
So join me from 10.00pm AEST to ensure you don’t miss a second of what is set to be the most enthralling stage of this year’s race so far.