July 13, 2004
Bruyneel: Not expecting GC attacks on Stage 10
Tomorrow's stage is the longest of the 2004 Tour, and features 9 categorized climbs, although the hardest is a single 1st Category. Despite the difficulty, USPS director Johan Bruyneel doesn't think we'll see a major move tomorrow:
“I don’t expect anything special from tomorrow,” said Bruyneel. “The climbs are too far from the finish. I don’t think we’ll see any splits between the main leaders. But they are good breakaway roads.”
That suggests we might see some action on the polka-dot jersey tomorrow. Paolo Bettini has been holding the jersey on the basis of some early low-category climbs, but Richard Virenque has been going after single King of the Mountain points, and is looking for his record 7th KoM victory in the Tour. Last year, Virenque claimed his polka-dot jersey (and the yellow) on Stage 7 to Morzine, the first stage with serious climbs, and held it all the way to Paris.
If he could pull off a similar escape tomorrow, he could eliminate the pretenders from the top of the GC, establish himself as the primary KoM contender, and maybe wear yellow on Bastille Day.
There are also rumors that Phonak scouted this stage, and has something on tap. In cyclingnews.com's First Edition Cycling News for Wednesday, they suggest "Wednesday evening may see Jose Gutierrez of Phonak or his teammate Santos Gonzalez changing jerseys."
Back to procycling:
Maybe the truth will be revealed tomorrow on the steep grades of the Puy Mary, but it seems more likely that the first real body blows will come at La Mongie on Friday. “The first big showdown will be La Mongie,” Bruyneel confirmed before adding: “At least, I hope so.”
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