Please join us for live blogging of stage 16 of the 2012 Tour de France. Live coverage will begin from 8:30PM with full coverage from 10PM AEST.
The final rest day is over and we enter the business end of the race – and what a way to restart proceedings.
It is being referred to in some quarters as ‘The Circle of Death’, which as melodramatic as it might first appear you only need to have a look at the course profile to get an understanding of where the term was coined.
Starting with the Col d’Aubisque, moving to the Col du Tourmalet, then the Col d’Aspin and finally the Col de Peyresourde the riders will climb nearly 7000 meters of vertical elevation across the course of this 197km stage.
It is quite simply, massive. Not simply from the sheer amount of climbing, but also in terms of shaping the general classification.
If Vincenzo Nibali or Cadel Evans have any designs of moving higher up the GC then today is one of the few remaining mountain stages when they might look to put Bradley Wiggins and his Sky armada under pressure.
For Evans, it’s not curtains (Cadel may be accused of many things, however a quitter has never been one) but he is running out of opportunities to claw back time.
In his favour would be memories of how Wiggins performed in the final week of the 2011 Vuelta a Espana – fading and eventually being forced to concede the position of team leader to Chris Froome.
Cadel has been in this position before, he knows what his body is capable of and he knows how well and what he needs to do to recover.
Today will be a test to see if Wiggins has learned from the mistakes of last year, as although Brad has dominated the minor stage races this year none of them have run for three weeks.
Prepare yourselves for what will certainly be an entertaining day of racing. Incredible Pyrenean scenary notwithstanding!
Please, join me from 8:30PM for live blogging of stage 16 of the 2012 Tour de France.