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If Ivan Basso is still in the mix at this point of the race, eyes will be on him as the race enters...
If Ivan Basso is still in the mix at this point of the race, eyes will be on him as the race enters the Pyrenees. Armstrong has traditionally consolidated his strong position throughout the Pyrenees and carried this on into the final time trial. In 2003 things were very tight at this stage - in 2004 he virtually had the race sown up. In 2005 this stage, and the next could be the deciding factors for the overall title. The focus will be on the 15.2km Port de Pailheres, which rises to 2100m at an average of 8%. It's not the tallest col but it's gradient means most riders will struggle up it, especially because it comes after 170km of riding, including three cat 4 climbs and a cat 3 col. These won't pose nearly the same challenge as the hors categorie monster, but add this to a summit finish in Ax 3 Domaines - a 9.1km climb at 7.3% and you've got yourself a tough day. Most are tipping Basso on this stage, and with his performances at the Giro to go by, they're not too far off the mark.