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22/07/2010 // INFO 1 Comment

A decisive summit finish?

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Tourmalet

Today the Tour de France will be won or lost on the slopes of the Tourmalet. A 2115 meter monster that has loomed large in tour history and features heavily in this year’s centenary edition of the race.

The peloton struggled over the col on Tuesday, on their way towards Pau, and today they have the dubious pleasure of giving it a crack from the other side. This time it should be more decisive.  Schleck has got to attack Contador to regain the yellow jersey and build a time-gap that the Luxembourger can defend in the Bordeaux time-trial on Saturday.

Summit finishes provide decisive results, because stragglers don’t have an opportunity to catch up on the descent, and exciting racing. The opportunity for climbers to make significant gains on 20 plus km climbs means riders are willing to attack and attack early.

Last year Contador won on the slopes of Verbier and controlled the Tour from then onwards. At the Giro, earlier this year, Ivan Basso won at the summit of the feared Monte Zoncolan after a 10.1km climb (with an average gradient of 11.9 percent, and a maximum of 22 percent) and went on to claim the maglia rosa.

Mountain top finishes become amphitheatres on race day, with thousands of spectators lining the roads, spread up the slopes of the mountain. They are passionate, loud and enthusiastic. Many claimed their space on the hill several days ago. The attraction of watching the professionals race the mountain draws them from all over the world. Those on the slopes of the Tourmalet will witness some ferocious and exciting racing today.

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