July 13, 2008
Stage 10
Posted by Gordon Smith

Let's say you are mildly interested in the Tour de France, but you aren't glued to the television every morning in July. Nevertheless, you wouldn't mind watching one stage ... but which one?

You could do worse than Stage 10 on Monday. Here is the profile:


Those are two "off-category" climbs at the end, including the legendary Col du Tourmalet. We can expect a shakeup on the leaderboard as Columbia Sportswear's Kim Kirchen yields the yellow to ... Cadel Evans.

Actually, if asked to pick a winner for Monday's stage, I would go with Carlos Sastre, with an assist from Frank and Andy Schleck. Cadel will not be far behind, however, and he will pull on the yellow jersey.

I am very curious to see how three other riders perform on Stage 10: Christian Vandevelde (the top American in this year's Tour ... contender or pretender?), Alejandro Valverde (can he finally reach his Tour potential), and Riccardo Ricco (wow ... can he follow Sunday's triumph with another great ride?).

The mountains are where the Tour is decided, and these stages are by far the funnest stages to watch. Some great stages are set for later in the Tour (Stage 17, for example, features L'Alpe-d'Huez), but Monday's stage promises to be a great sifter.

UPDATE: I finally was able to see the Versus pre-race show and noticed that Paul Sherwin embraced my analysis almost exactly, but Craig Hummer again made the best call, tabbing Frank Schleck as the stage winner. Schleck didn't win the stage, but he came close.

And the stage was a sifter. Valverde and Damiano Cunego may have lost the Tour today. My pick, Carlos Sastre, rode well, but he didn't distinguish himself from the other GC contenders.

Ricco and Vandevelde remain compelling stories. This is the best Tour in years.

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