July 14, 2008
Stage 10 Preview: Forcing their hand
Today is the hardest day so far of the 2008 Tour. Two hors categorie climbs (“beyond categorization”) -- the 2115-meter Col du Tourmalet and the 1520-meter Hautacam -- make up the second half of the stage. It's just 96 miles/156 kms, but today will bring some answers.
Cadel Evans is suddenly one of the big questions. He injured his collarbone and split his helmet into three pieces in an accident yesterday; will he be able to counter the inevitable moves from the contending climbing specialists?
Another big question: Are Kirchen, Vande Velde, Devolder and Schumacher for real? They've been able to hang so far, but today come much longer climbs that may escort them to lower GC placings.
Finally, we'll answer some questions of form: Is Valverde the strongest climber among the favorites? How is Denis Menchov, who has been quietly sitting among the leaders every stage? What about the CSC triumverate? Are they really riding for Sastre, or has the time come for the Schlecks to lead the team?
Kim Kirchen, Columbia
Kim Kirchen, Columbia (worn by Oscar Freire, Rabobank)
Andy Schleck, CSC-Saxo Bank
David de la Fuente, Saunier Duval
Versus broadcaster picks: Hummer continues to lead. Today, Liggett takes Alejandro Valverde, Roll takes Riccardo Ricco, Hummer takes Fränk Schleck, and Sherwen takes Carlos Sastre.
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