Today is the first “High” mountaintop finish. Stage 7 was considered “Medium”, and looking at the pictures of the stage today, one can see why!
This is a short, mountainous stage that may well see fireworks from the big hitters. When considering the terrain, there isn’t really any respite throughout the stage, and it is a virtual guarantee that Vincenzo Nibali, Jurgen van den Broeck and Cadel Evans will equally attempting to make things difficult for the SKY super team.
The big hope from all three will be to shed all but Froome from Wiggo’s side as quickly as possible, which means they’ll equally be dropping their own helpers (Richie Porte would be riding for gc if he was in any other team, and is the number three man for Sky!!).
The shortness of the stage, and the ease with which support staff will be able to feed and water them at the tops of climbs means that this won’t be a huge issue. I am looking forward to seeing if Evans’ head to the side, pain face on, gruelling tempo comes out to play today (a la 2011 Stage 18) and if Wiggo can go with that pace for a long period of time.
What will also be interesting is seeing if the break has any real chance of getting away with so much at play for the big boys, and so high a chance that they will attack relatively early in the stage.
If I were Fred Kessiakoff going for the Polka-Dot Jersey, I’d sit on Voeckler’s wheel as he is all but guaranteed to attempt to collect the maximum points over the first climb, fully expecting to be gobbled up and spat out later in the race.
Go with him into the break, then attack him up the climb… But that is just a minor subplot today – it’s all about Nibali & Evans vs Wiggo & Froomey. Definitely one to stay up for, Antipodeans!!
My tips are VDB from Cadel from Froomey.