This stage pays homage to one of the greatest exploits in Tour history. In 1969, on a stage that crossed the same four passes as today’s, race leader Eddy Merckx launched a solo attack at the foot of the Aubisque and rode away to the finish in Mourenx, just west of Pau, arriving almost eight minutes clear of his rivals. It would be astounding to see anyone attempt to copy the Belgian’s incredible ride, especially given the long run-in to the finish.
Procycling’s favourite to win:
With a rest day to come, there’s less to be gained by launching attacks on the yellow jersey today. However, given its length and difficulty, this stage offers a prime opportunity for Saxo Bank to put Alberto Contador and his Astana team-mates to the test. Expect Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt and co to press hard over the Tourmalet and Aubisque, and for the Schleck brothers to harry their rivals all the way, searching for a chink in the armour. With RadioShack and others sure to help out if Contador does end up isolated in the yellow jersey group, the 60km run-in to Pau could be very intriguing not to mention incredibly fast.