Stage 18: Lakeside time trial loop may be test of survival

Hang on, one more mountain to go

With the Alpine stages finally over, the bunch now tackles the final time trial, but three days earlier than usual. A picturesque 40km-loop around the lake of Annecy gives the time trial specialists their last chance to gain time on the climbers, with the final battle still to come on the weekend.

Nevertheless, the course also includes some rolling climbs as it takes the riders into the lakeside hills on the second half of the race against the clock. Every second will count for the general classification.

Jonathan Vaughters' views

Finally, a flat time trial! With only three or four guys truly in contention for the GC at this point, this TT will be the last chance to have a real impact on the race before the Mt Ventoux.

If Cadel Evans or Denis Menchov don’t have any time on Contador, then this is their last chance to get it. With the fast, flat parcours I think the stage will be contested between Fabian Cancellara and our own British duo, David Millar and Brad Wiggins, but the GC battle will be a fun one to watch.

Roman Kreuziger would be a guy I bet moves into the top five on this day with a great performance. I'm guessing Contador rides on par with the rest and leaves it to the Ventoux to decide.

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