After a quiet day where the big swinging cats of the peloton were all nice to each other, the fireworks are set to ignite. It’s the Second Big Test.

Hilltop finishes are always a risk for time gaps, and considering Cadel is currently the only contender who would be happy with how things sit on the overall with a 41km individual TT still to come, there are lads who will be sure to attack madly tonight.

All protestations of there still being a lot of opportunities to make up time, and “one good day will be enough” aside, Contador needs a good one, and he needs it soon.

He now has about two minutes to find on the Schlecks and Cadel, and realistically has three more stages to do it on, this being one of them.

Second Big Test
The profile shows some tough early climbs that may take the sting out of some legs, but nothing close enough to the final ascent of Plateau de Beille for it to be anything but a final climb shootout.

The final climb is a brute though! The first 5km up is particularly savage, with about 450m of vertical gain.

This will be where we see just how good a chance Cadel is as he is better suited to today’s stage than the two Alpine epics in the final week, and if he drops much time here, it’s goodnight Irene next week!

The Schleck one-two punch will again be on display, and if Frank again takes time, it may work to the advantage of the others as they need to be less focused on Andy. Or maybe not!

It’s going to be a huge one. I am officially very excited.