2007 Tour de France Preview

News & Results

07/4/2007| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Levi Leipheimer (Team Discovery Channel). Photo copyright Ben Ross Photography - www.benrossphotography.com
Levi Leipheimer (Team Discovery Channel). Photo copyright Ben Ross Photography - www.benrossphotography.com

2007 Tour de France Preview

Some contend that the route of the 2007 Tour de France is easier than usual and certainly easier than the 2006 Tour route.

In Stage 14, the Tour will enter the
Pyrenees. The peloton will leave Mazamet and go over the Cote de Sarrail and the Cote de Pailheres before slugging it out on the Tour?s second mountaintop finish at Plateau-de-Beille. Stage 15, a 196-km slog from Foix to Loudenvielle, will see the riders over the Col de Port, the Col de Portet d?Aspet, the Col de Mente, the Port de Bales, and the Col de Peyresourde. The riders will have earned the rest day that follows this stage.

 

After the rest day, the 2007 Tour?s final mountain stage will take place. The riders will go 218 km from Orthez to Gourette, and they will breast four stiff climbs?the Col de Larraut, the Col de Pierre Saint-Martin, the Col de Marie-Blanque, and the Col d?Aubisque. The stage will be a final chance for the climbing contenders to seize control of the race or to improve their overall positions.

 

After leaving the
Pyrenees, the field will contest two stages before the Tour?s final time trial. Stage 17, a flat, 188-km run from Pau to Castelsarrasin, will favor the sprinters, while Stage 18, a rolling, 210-km ride from Cahors to Angouleme, might be a stage in which an enterprising attacker or group of attackers will shine. Stage 19 will be the second of the Tour?s two long time trials. It will be 55-km long, and it will be a final chance to take the yellow jersey or move up in the overall. Stage 20, a 130-km run from Marcoussis to the
Champs Elysees , will be the traditional procession for the winner.

Who will the winner be? Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) won his first Grand Tour when he took the 2006 Vuelta a Espana. Many feel that the Kazakh rider?s time has come. This writer is not completely convinced. Many riders who have dominated the other Grand Tours have come up short at the Tour de France. The pressure and the level of competition in the French race demand that those who seek the yellow jersey take their cycling to a higher level. The Astana man?s performance in this year?s Dauphine Libere left room for doubt. Vinokourov won two stages but faltered in the mountains, losing seven minutes on Mont Ventoux. He is a good bet to win the Tour, but he is not a cinch.

 

Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) is a good bet for second. Earlier this season, the Montanan won the Tour of California and rode the Dauphine Libere for training, showing sharpness during the prologue. Leipheimer has good time trialing skill, an experienced team director in Johan Bruyneel, and a strong supporting cast. He is a good bet for the podium, and if the chips fall his way, the Discovery Channel man could win.

 

Andreas Kloden (Astana) is the only rider of the top 10 or so prospects who has finished on the Tour podium twice, having finished second in 2004 and third in 2006. The German is a solid climber and time trialist who won this year?s Tirreno-Adriatico

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