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July 23, 2011

Stage 20 Preview

As so often happens, the Tour will be decided in today's final time trial. It's a 42.5 km course, with the start and finish in Grenoble. It's not pancake flat, with the high and low points of the course differing by almost 400 meters in altitude. It's on the hilly side of rolling.

There are two primary hills on the course, and time checks are in Vizille, after the first descent, and Saint Martin d'Uriage near the top of the second hill and before the 15-kilometer descent to the finish.

The exact same course was used in the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré in June. There, it was won by Tony Martin, followed by Brad Wiggins, Edvald Boasson-Hagen, and Dave Zabriskie, with Cadel Evans in 6th, 1:20 behind the leader. Both Andy and Fränk Schleck used the Tour de Suisse instead of the Criterium du Dauphiné in their preparation, so we don't have a direct comparison of their times.

When Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck have gone head-to-head in Tour time trials, Evans has won every time but one, last year's final TT when Evans, riding with a broken arm, finished more than 10 minutes off Fabian Cancellara's winning time. In that TT, Andy Schleck beat Evans by 4:41. In every other Tour TT they have both raced, Evans has beaten Andy by at least :30: 2008 Stage 4, it was 1:02; 2008 Stage 20, it was 2:00; 2009 Stage 1, it was :37; 2009 Stage 18, it was :34; and in the 2010 Prologue, it was :30. Today, Schleck starts with :57 on Evans (and Fränk Schleck sits in the middle with just :04 advantage to Evans).

I never pick against Fabian Cancellara in a time trial. Tony Martin's obviously another favorite, having already won on the same course.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2011 | Permalink

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