Startline gallery: Tour de France stage 11

Grey clouds and rain greeted the peloton on the startline in Blaye-les-Mines for stage 11 of the Tour de France. Set for another probable sprint encounter, the talk from within the start village centred around whether Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma Lotto) could complete back-to-back wins over his rivals, including Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad).

The Manxman has already claimed two stage wins in this year’s race and, if in the mix for today’s finale, should assume the lead over Philippe Gilbert in the points race, putting the Belgian on the back foot for the first time in the race for green.

Yet there will be plenty of teams fighting against the predicted sprint. With tomorrow’s first Pyrenean skirmish the GC contenders will be hoping for an easy day in the saddle, while teams such as the French triple entente of Cofidis, FDJ, Saur-Sojasun, plus Astana and Quick Step will be aiming to propel men into breaks.

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