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A look at the school, the races and the future of this unique 'sport'
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British rider Charles Wegelius (Liquigas)
By Gregor Brown in Montpellier When the Tour de France hits the Pyrénées this Sunday with stages 14,...
By Gregor Brown in Montpellier
When the Tour de France hits the Pyrénées this Sunday with stages 14, 15 and 16, Britain's Charly Wegelius will be on the hunt for stage glory. After battling in the Alps aiding Liquigas team captain Manuel Beltrán, the hard-working domestique will be ready to try for his first ever win.
"I think the idea of a transition stage where you rest your legs is a figment of journalists' imagination," joked Wegelius to Cyclingnews. He commented on the hot and difficult conditions of the stage to Marseille the day before. "230 kilometres in that distances and that heat, with the start that we did before the breakaway went ... If there is someone who can rest their legs they're a better rider than me, that is for sure. We did not ride slowly. I think the average was about 40.5 kilometres per hour at the finish [42.978 km/h - ed.]."
The days start to wear on the riders and Wegelius' explanation proved that he was no different. "You know the roads in the south of France, these asphalt is quite shoddy. We've been racing for ten days... even getting out of bed in the morning is not easy."
Sunday morning should bring a smile to the face of Wegelius. The mountain man, who was brought into Team Liquigas in 2005 to help Stefano Garzelli, enjoys climbing and he will find comfort in the Port de Pailhères and Plateau de Beille.
"With the team that we have everyone has freedom [to enter an escape group] and you have your chance to ride your own race. Like the case was yesterday with [Michael] Albasini and [Aleksandr] Kuschynski... and if I am going to try to do something for myself then, logically, the place where I have the best chance is in the hillier stages."
The stages that are for him are Sunday's run to Plateau de Beille, Monday's to Loudenvielle and Wednesday's to Col d'Aubisque. "You just have to take your chance when it comes and try to make the most of it. It could be any of those days."
Wegelius worked hard to see to Danilo Di Luca's win the Giro d'Italia and knows how to read GC riders' abilities. He pointed towards Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans as race favourites. "The race is still quite open. Valverde and, I think, Cadel Evans. He [Evans] has a good chance because he is quite a good time trialist. You know there are still two time trials to go, that is a 110 kilometres of time trialling... Maybe that could have more of an effect on the race than the mountains."
He is happy the race is still open and he reckoned it is good for the fans too. "It is good. You know, maybe in the past there was already a clear dominator of the race after the time trial, so... I think it is a good thing right now."