Stage 8: Pforzheim - Gérardmer
Starting and ending the day with some tough climbing, stage 8 is definitely a stage suited to those with strong legs that fancy their chances on a long break. Heading out of Germany and back into France, there are three Cat 3 cols after only 8.5km, but it's flat hammering for the next 150km until the Cat 2 Col de la Schlucht at 190.5km. Juan Antonio Flecha is a real chance of taking the stage after a successful season so far, and without Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo will be looking to Flecha to take a stage win. He has the strength to last the distance and kick in the closing stages, but will be challenged by the likes of Stuart O'Grady and Thomas Voeckler, who has knowledge of the area and would be keen to repeat some of the successes of 2004. It's almost the start of the serious stuff, so there may be a few casualties amongst the sprinters as the road heads towards the heavens.
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