The Spin – Tour Stage 8

Again this isn’t really a mountain stage. But nor was yesterday’s route and it was still decided by the climbing. Today is as much about descending as climbing with some very steep climbs but also some tricky descents. It’s also short and promises action from start to finish, ideal since it will be televised live from the start.

  • Km 20.0 – Côte de Bondeval 4.4 kilometre-long climb at 3.9% – category 4
  • Km 32.0 – Côte du Passage de la Douleur 3.8 kilometre-long climb at 6.4% – category 3
  • Km 50.0 – Côte de Maison-Rouge 7.9 kilometre-long climb at 5% – category 2
  • Km 73.0 – Côte de Saignelégier 7.8 kilometre-long climb at 6.1% – category 2
  • Km 97.0 – Côte de Saulcy 4.6 kilometre-long climb at 8.6% – category 2
  • Km 130.5 – Côte de la Caquerelle 4.3 kilometre-long climb at 7.6% – category 2
  • Km 141.5 – Col de la Croix 3.7 kilometre-long climb at 9.2% – category 1

The Route: the profile and the list of climbs says everything about today’s route, except that the average gradients don’t tell the full story. Note the Côte de Saulcy and the final Col de la Croix, each around 4km long and close to 9%. The Côte du Passage de la Douleur translates as the Passage of Pain, apt enough.

The destination of the stage is keen to sell itself as an accessible part of Switzerland, just 2h40m from Paris via high speed train. In other words the race might use the climbs today but it is also about business, to show the French just how close these roads are to them.

The Intermediate Sprint: uphill and on a gradual curve but still safe for the bunch to tackle at speed, although it is very likely a breakaway is clear.

The Race: the most obvious scenario is a break goes clear. This has happened every day in the race so far only this time three things will be different. First the move will take some time to form, with several attacks being chased down before finally the bunch is thwarted. Second it will include some big names, not the overall contenders but powerful riders like Sylvain Chavanel, Simon Gerrans, Jérémy Roy, Jens Voigt or Luca Paolini, perhaps allied with climbers like Sylwester Szmyd or Pieter Weening, especially a rider hunting for mountains points and don’t forget the guys who have lost hopes for the overall, like Alejandro Valverde, Robert Gesink, Lieuwe Westra or J-C Péraud. Third it should stay away, not just because it is composed of strong riders but because Sky and BMC can afford to let others win whilst the sprinters certainly won’t try to set things up today.

Of course such a scenario is likely but still, it depends on many factors. It could be that nobody is allowed to get too much of a lead by Team Sky. We’ll see, it might be possible that Sky let someone else take the yellow jersey today, providing they look likely to return it in the coming daysl for example Sylvain Chavanel. This lets the British team sit back whilst, in the example given, Omega Pharma – Quickstep defends Chavanel’s lead.

The climbs are hard and come in quick succession, the race is either going up or down for a lot of the day. The descents are worth a mention, indeed it possible the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Cadel Evans try to push it on the final descent to gain time, or perhaps just to test Team Sky ahead of other stages with more descending before the finish.

The Finish: the final climb is 16km from the finish, the descent is quick and once the race comes into Porrentruy it winds around several roundabouts before heading out of town to finish outside a small airport. After all the climbing today, it’s flat and the most remarkable thing is the giant dinosaur in the middle of a roundabout with 750 metres to go.

TV: it’s going to be screened live from start to finish. Obviously it’ll depend on your home channel but if not you can find a pirate internet feed. The start time is 1.oopm Euro time, your chance to see how the breakaway forms. The finish is expected between 5.00-5.30pm.

Weather: possibly a damp start after storm clears but the sun will come out as temperatures reach just 21°C (70°F). A 20km/h breeze from the south-west could creat mild problems on the climbs and will offer a headwind for the final 8.5km.

Local rider: the star of the day will be Fabian Cancellara, the race heads into Switzerland. The country is made up many cantons or areas and it makes the briefest detour into Cancellara’s home Bern canton. The Swiss Express has Italian origins but his parents settled in Bern.

Food: the fondue or “melt”. Cheese is melted down in white wine, with some garlic added and then served on the table in the saucepan with some form of heat source to keep the mix liquid. You then use long forks to dip small pieces of bread into the molten cheese. Impossible for racing cyclists and I suspect the locals don’t go for it too often, especially in summer.

Do: …speak French. The race gets close to the German-speaking part of Switzerland but remains in the French-speaking part. The country has four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansch, each is dependent on location.

Don’t: …take your Euros with you. Switzerland is an island in the middle of Europe with its own currency, the Franc, one of the world’s last hard currencies.

14 thoughts on “The Spin – Tour Stage 8”

  1. Sky looked so much better with a purpose yesterday, perhaps not surprising given they’ve got used to riding on the front all year. So while the break might stay away I suspect they will control things to keep the jersey and that sense of purpose that served them so well.

  2. might also be a good day to browse through the team web sites while watching the full stage with one eye, as the use of twitter and other social medias has taken over the role as main provider of news from the old style communication platforms.

    They do look good, the team web sites, but how could these overpaid press officers and communications directors and blond PR people let the control slip out their fingers! Andreas Klöden is the perfect example of a rider having lost all respect for his team, sponsors and press officers – even punching his own team website for false info yesterday through twitter. Amusing.

    Bad news for the teams – but good news for the fans (us, I guess) as it seems that some teams have lost control. The team web sites, however, do have their moments and many are definitely worth a browse on a day like today.

  3. I didn’t want to reveal my well hidden secret but I like Chris Anker Sorensen and you didn’t mention him as one of the possible breakaway riders 🙁 Btw, where’s Johnny Hoogerland? I think we will see him going for those polka dots today.

  4. If the break stays away I’m plumping for Jeremy Roy trying to make amends for the stage last year when the God of Thunder overtook him, if it stays together at the end, I can see Nibali doing this.

    While that was an awesome display by Sky yesterday, I am genuinely surprised to see so many GC contenders not keep up, as a Brit this could be one of our finest sporting moments, but if we have two weeks of this it could get, dare I say it, boring?

  5. If I was nibali or evans I would try to attack on the penultimate climb and take advantage of the two descents..
    On the other hand SKY should be fully aware that this might be their only weakness so they will be going full gas over the climbs.

  6. Will BMC and Liquigas send riders on breakaways, to provide help for ulterior Evans or Nibali’s attack, or else wear down Team Sky if they oppose these movements. It’s obvious to me. I hope it’s equally obvious for Lelangue and Amadio.
    The losers of the first weeek (Rabobank, Movistar) should try to show what their game is from now on, and RadioShack should employ its comparative advantage (numbers) to try and be present in every break.
    Let’s hope they can remember that they will rest when the Tour is over.

  7. Todays stage is likely to be animated with the *break*.
    Depends who’s present. It could even be that some teams try and place Sky under pressure, by sending some strong riders up the road. It’s a tactic that SaxoBank & Radioshack have used to good effect in the past.

    Likelihood, is that the *big hitters* will be eyeing the TT – and neutralise it, but then perhaps that’s the ideal reason to do it.
    Cadel & the BMC boys, or Liquigas….
    Over to you

  8. GreenEDGE have said Gerrans or Weening will be their men to go in the moves today.

    Per usual INRNG has hit the nail on the head with who is likely to be in a break. Gerrans proved he is the goods in Milan-San Remo earlier on this year so if it comes down to it he would most likely win a bunch kick against other breakaway contenders.

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