Predicting yellow: Showdown on Super Besse?

The first big mountain stage could change many things in the Tour de France, including the identity...

The first big mountain stage could change many things in the Tour de France, including the identity of the rider in the yellow jersey. On the eve of stage six, some of those from the peloton and the media give their predictions to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes.

Showdown on Super Besse? Well, it's not exactly that, as the finish of the Tour de France is still over two weeks away. But there will nevertheless be a lot of interest in the first mountain stage of the race. Friday's stage could take the general classification and thoroughly shake it up or, alternatively, the fact that it comes so early in the Tour could lead the race favourites to opt for caution and hold back.

Tuesday's time trial victor Stefan Schumacher will head into the stage with a slender lead over many others. The Gerolsteiner rider has a 12-second advantage over Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia) and David Millar (Garmin Chipotle H3O), with Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto) 21 seconds back.

The fifth-placed rider, Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) is likely to lose time on the climb, but the others in the top eight - Christian Vande Velde (Garmin Chipotle H3O), George Hincapie and Thomas Lövkvist (both Team Columbia) are all within 50 seconds of yellow and will be aiming to strike.

Super Besse is prominent in people's minds mainly because it is the first big mountain of this year's Tour, and because it is a summit finish. However it's not the hardest ascent in the race, by any means; it is only a second category climb, lasting eleven kilometres and gaining approximately 500 metres. Of these, the first 7.4 clicks average 5.7 percent, it then flattens out and descends slightly for two kilometres, and then ramps up to 10 percent for the final 1500 metres.

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