July 23, 2004
Stage 18: 166.5 km Annemasse to Lons-le-Saunier
The Tour works its way out of the high Alps, with the last significant climbs of the Tour.
There's a single 2nd Category climb, two 3rd Category, and two 4th category. It's the kind of stage that's friendly to breakaways. Intermediate sprint points are available at 43.5 km and 144 km on the stage.
Starting Stage 18, it's:
Armstrong and Virenque are seemingly locked in to their jerseys. Robbie McEwen could see a challenge today, if one of the stronger general riders who sprint (Zabel, O'Grady) could get on the front side of a split field.
Thomas Voeckler has got to feel like there's a big target right in the middle of the young riders' white jersey. He leads by 45 seconds over Vladimir Karpets, but it looks likely Voeckler will lose it in the time trial tomorrow.
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