Most of the Tour de France general classification favourites have taken to scouting out key stages, typically in June. Rabobank’s Denis Menchov, no stranger to winning a major tour – he’s won the Vuelta a Espana twice – decided in June to study the climb, not the descent, of Stage 16. This, according to Procycling’s Daniel Friebe, may have cost Menchov the Tour.
On the 17th of June, the Russian visited the Bonette on his tour of pre-race reccees. Menchov rode the climb, took mental notes, smiled for the camera then piled into his Rabobank team-car for the descent. Menchov said he was too cold to ride down to Jausiers by bike.
Now it just so happened that Cadel Evans was on the Bonette the same day. He missed Menchov by a couple of minutes. But the pair also had very different ideas about what they’d come to the Bonette to see. Evans was interested in the climb, sure, but his bike remained in the boot of Roberto Damiani’s team car until they reached the summit, where he duly unpacked and started the descent. He knew that, in a month’s time, those 23 kilometres could be the difference between winning and losing the Grande Boucle.