Tour de France: Fuglsang eyes opportunity to move up GC

'I don't think I've had a time in my life like this,' says Dane

Jakob Fulgsang (Astana) believes that he might be able to sneak away on stage 8 of the Tour de France as the current podium contenders watch each other on the final climb.

The Danish rider lies 15th overall, 1:33 off Chris Froome's yellow jersey after seven stages of racing, but has teammate Fabio Aru just 14 seconds off the maillot jaune. Fuglsang, who won the Critérium du Dauphiné, knows the final climb at Station des Rousses having ridden it in the services of Andy Schleck in 2010, and senses that there could be an opportunity for him to exploit.

"I don't think that everyone will wait for Sunday's harder stage but with around 10 to 15 kilometres on the plateau after the climb on stage 8 I think that will change something," he told Cyclingnews.

The final ascent peaks at the Montee de la Combe de Laisia Les Molunes, and although the climb is 11.7km in length and has long stretches of between six and eight per cent, the road evens out and at several point descends before the finish line. In the 2010 Tour, Sylvain Chavanel won from a break, with the GC group containing close to 40 riders.

"From the profile the climb doesn't look so hard and with the finish after the summit it doesn't look perfect for attacking but you never know. Maybe it can be a stage where guys like me and a little bit down in GC can get a chance to go. I think the big favourites will look at each other."

Of the two weekend stages, it is stage 9 to Chambery that holds the most testing parcours. The route from Nantua to Chambery contains seven categorised climbs, including the Col de la Biche, the Grand Colombier and the Mont du Chat. The final ascent was raced in the Dauphiné with Fuglsang among the leaders who crested the climb before taking the sprint ahead of Richie Porte and Chris Froome.

"For sure it's going to be a super hard stage. Also the climbs before the Mont du Chat are really hard. It's narrow roads, it's lots of downhill and it's going to be a stage where it's all out."

Knowing the Mont du Chat and the technical descent off the summit is surely a strength but Fuglsang stressed that the rest of the stage still held enough pinch points that meant that concentration – as well as good legs – would be crucial.

"Maybe knowing the climb helps a little bit but on the other hand the stage is completely different to the one from the Dauphiné and there will be a big selection before hand," he said. "There's no way we're going to hit that climb in a big bunch like we did at the Dauphiné. And on the other hand the finish is not the same, and it's further from the climb. That might also influence how the climb is going to be ridden but if you have super legs then you have try."

Whatever the outcome of this weekend, Fuglsang is riding this year's Tour de France with his morale sky-high. The Dauphiné win was the biggest triumph of his road career and although Aru has now moved ahead of him in Astana pecking order the Dane is still enjoying the best period in his career

"June has been a very good month and of course winning Dauphiné, having my first child, and signing a contract for the next two years makes we relaxed and calm. It has given me the ability to just focus on the race now and give it my maximum. I don't think I've had a time in my life like this. It's going to be hard to beat."

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