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Baby blue race rocket with lots of neat touches
Saint-Gaudens – Plateau de Beille
Stage win = Tour win?
The Tour has climbed Plateau de Beille three times and on each occasion, the stage winner has gone on to claim the yellow jersey in Paris. Will today's winner follow Marco Pantani (1998), Lance Armstrong (2002) and Alberto Contador (2007)? They just might, thanks to the five categorised climbs that precede the final summit ascent. At almost 16km and with a gradient just below 8 per cent, the final climb is long and tough enough for the leaders to overhaul any breakaways and dispute the day's spoils between them. The podium contenders should become clear today.
Distance: 168.5 km
Highest point: 1,570m
Category: High mountains
Sean Yates says...
"This stage could be decisive one way or another. Assuming that Contador will ride, based on what we've seen at the Giro, his team won't be the strongest, so he'll be under major pressure on a day like today if Leopard go on the attack early."
Matt White says...
"Very solid stage indeed. Impossible to control for any team, expect an early break. Watch out for the guys who are on the fringe of GC to battle - Nicholas Roche, Ryder Hesjedal and some Spanish company."