The steady approach of three crucial alpine stages on the 2008 Tour de France will be good news Saturday for the majority of riders who have yet to win a stage on this year’s race.
Part two in the yellow jersey battle is set to resume Sunday when the Tour’s 15th stage drags the peloton over the ‘unclassified’ Col d’Agnel before a summit finish at Prato Nevoso in Italy.
The difficulty of that 182km ride, and the need for support riders to keep their powder dry for their respective team leaders, will be good news for most.
Saturday’s 194km 14th stage is over relatively easy terrain, heading steadily from Nimes up towards Digne les Bains at the foot of the Alps – and is perfect for a breakaway.
As well as the numerous French riders who have been trying, and mostly failing to take a breakaway all the way to the finish the 14th stage should give the likes of David Millar a chance to raise his arms in triumph.
Millar’s teammate Christian Vande Velde is in third place overall at 38 seconds behind race leader Cadel Evans of Australia, however the 31-year-old Millar has been given the green light to go for what would be his fourth stage win.
“Dave has the freedom to get into any breakaways from here till the end of the race,” said Millar’s team manager Matthew White. “We’ve got another seven guys to protect Christian.”
Frenchman David Moncoutie is a sure bet to join a breakaway, although he will have to be alert and make sure he joins one that does not contain any riders capable of upsetting the yellow jersey status quo.
The Cofidis rider has so far failed to shine on this year’s race, and will look fondly towards the finish line of one of his former Tour stage wins, in 2005.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008