July 13, 2011
Stage 11 Preview: 167.5 km Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur
There's really not that much to say about today's stage. It's another day for the sprinters, and Cavendish will be super motivated after coming up a little short in Stage 10.
Just two categorized climbs today, as riders face a 3rd Category climb at the 28.5-km mark, and a 4th Category at 135.5 km. This means Johnny Hoogerland will hold the King of the Mountains jersey into the high mountains tomorrow, since he leads by more points than are on offer today.
Voeckler will hold yellow for another day, barring a lightning strike. There's no way a meaningful breakaway stays away today. And with the mountains looming, even meaningless breakaways are going to get reeled back in by the sprint teams.
There's an intermediate sprint very close to the middle of the stage today, just 11 kilometers after the feed zone. Philippe Gilbert continues to lead the green jersey competition, but the lead is shrinking. Gilbert sits with 226 points, José Rojas 209, and Cavendish 197. With a stage win today, and roughly equal points in the intermediate sprint, Cavendish could take over the green jersey.
Thing to watch today: HTC's train. HTC has had to do a lot of work to bring back the breakaways, and the only time they've been able to work their train to the line, Cavendish won. The peloton and the parcours have conspired to effectively disrupt Cav's leadout twice, and in those stages, Cav has “just” one win.
Hats off to Greipel, who just flat outsprinted Cavendish in the stage yesterday, with Goss and Renshaw shredded by Gilbert's late attack. Greipel will look to come off Cav's wheel in the finishing sprint today. José Rojas has been close in every sprint, and hasn't quite pulled off a win; Tyler Farrar hasn't factored in sprint since his win in Stage 3, so both will want to score here, for different reasons.
Smart money has to be on Cavendish, though, who will be looking to erase the memory of yesterday's narrow sprint loss with an 18th career Tour stage win.
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