If you can say yesterday's stage could effectively be summed up, as far as the favourites are concerned, as a hill-climb decided on the final ascent, today's menu will have another flavour entirely? Firstly, it's a relatively short stage (165km). Next, it is extremely difficult, featuring no fewer than five passes. Our aim? To complicate the racing strategy and maintain the suspense? That's why there is a long and demanding 30km descent into the finish at Bagnères-de-Bigorre. We thought it might inspire the likes of Nibali (unlikely) or Evans to put together an interesting tactical plan in the hope of destabilising the likely dominance of the Sky Pro Cycling team.
Yesterday, about stage 7, I wrote:
A flawless display from a brilliant team yesterday, I wonder how many more times they can do that.
Of course, that was about Cannondale, but I think it works for Sky too.
Shockingly it's the best video of the highlights I could find.
Sky are so strong. They could just ride threshold for the rest of the tour and I think they'd still win. The other riders will be really offensive because of this, although I think Quintana is the only real danger, unless Contador can find something special. Valverde should be watched, but the display of power from Froome was awe inspiring, I don't see how anyone can do anything against that.
I would like Sky to go on the offensive early today. Everyone is going to be tired, but you start blowing people out the back on the first two climbs, with three or four more to come, and you'll devastate half the field. Would be a very bold move though, and so I'm not really expecting any fireworks till the second half of the Peyresourde, at least.
Expecting a break to go early on, not sure if it will stay away - it's a short stage, but a lot of climbing, and there are going to be some tired legs today. Might just be to pick up KOM points.
The 30km descent should be great to watch.
There's a lot of talk about whether or not Sky might be doping (see article below), and looking at yesterday, I can see why. I don't think Sky are, but how do you explain it? Everyone else finally off the juice and suffering because of it? Some awesome training plan? Froome and Porte just born a cut above the rest? A mixture? I think a lot of people are settling for Occam's Razor, and I wonder if we're too biased to see it as they do.
A few useful links
Jinkers pull an Evans and disappear off the top, to be replaced with Grannys Rings by Chris Johnson at the top of the Fantasy league, with the imaginatively named Junkyards STW team and UP THE ROAD in 2nd and 3rd, all three having Froome, Porte, Sagan, Cavendish, and Stannard in their teams... Is it all down to the domestiques and climbers now? Over on the loser league, Time to do some crashing remains at the bottom, and with Contador's performance yesterday, can surely only remain there...
http://www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/robert-millar/robert-millar-hard-times - a lovely article from Robert Millar, definitely worth a quick read
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/have-100-percent-confidence-in-my-results-says-froome - Froome on being clean - the comments at the bottom are quite interesting
And a little something to celebrate Sky in yellow, and to watch during ITV4's ad breaks..