Monday, July 13, 2009
The Tour de France rolls on Tuesday. Monday is a rest day. Most teams will just ride for 2 hours instead of the usual 4 or so hours. Sunday was the end of the first week of racing. The real fireworks haven't really happened yet. I'd expect the battle for the yellow to begin on stage 13. That's the first stage in the coming week with some mountains. Team Astana should have someone in yellow by stage 13, before the individual time trial or team time trial.
The stage to watch is going to be stage 20. This is the last chance for someone to take away the yellow jersey before the ride into Paris the next day. The finish will be on Mount Ventoux. The climb is the final "hors categorie", beyond category climb of the tour. 21 kilometers at an average grade of 7.6%.
From wikipedia: Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most gruelling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended the mountain thirteen times since 1951. The followed trail mostly passes through Bédoin. Its fame as a scene of great Tour dramas has made it a magnet for cyclists around the world.
The only other mountain stage in the tour more famous is Alpe d'Huez. The tour didn't include that route in this years tour. Probably because Lance Armstrong has been in the yellow jersey 4 times the tour has included Alpe d'huez as a stage finish. He has also won the stage on its summit twice.