Two legendary peaks, the Lautaret and the Izoard, will spice things up before the summit finish in Risoul, which has already featured in the Tour de l'Avenir and the Critérium du Dauphiné. The idea we had in mind when designing the stage was putting the 19-kilometre Izoard as a springboard for a last hour of racing which will keep us on the edge of our seats... A coalition of attackers, why not? If the 2014 Froome is as strong as the 2013 Froome, we have to give his rivals the chance to look for chinks in his armour. This stage, the second and last one in the Alps, will provide ample opportunity for them to do just that.
I was struggling to take Nibali seriously until yesterday - and now I sincerely doubt anyone can come close to beating him. Valverde looks like a strong contender for a podium place, but who else? Pinot looks stronger and stronger, he really is coming on in leaps and bounds. Be interesting to see how he performs in the TT though. Another rider who has impressed me a lot (and surprised me) has been Tejay - he's underperformed for quite a while now, but is riding fantastically this year.
The big story was of course Richie Porte's legs going zub zub. I'm very disappointed to see that happen as I'm a huge fan and he's a brilliant rider and really nice guy. I hope he can consolidate and get a stage win, and maybe move back into the top 10. This tour has been a disaster from the start for Sky.
Another rider I'd like to mention is Mollema. He's a very quiet rider, but has a sneaky 7th place, and I think he's only going to move up. One to watch (if you can spot him).
It's great to see a brilliant rider at the top of his game.
Today is another proper tough day - even tougher than yesterday. With the way Nibali has been riding I would not be surprised if he gets even more time and another win. However, a break might stay away - we'll have to see. I think Pinot may gain some more time, but I don't think there will be a lot of GC change, maybe just widening of the gaps. I'd love to be proved wrong though, could be very exciting.
A few useful links
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/cheng-proud-to-be-making-history-at-the-tour-de-france - great little article on a rider who deserves far more credit than he gets