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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tour de France: Get ready for Saturday 

Okay, the big guns have been quiet since Tuesday, if you're interested in the GC. Friday isn't much more important, and should be another day where Discovery just holds down the fort while GC no-hopers (is that too technical? What I mean is a rider who has lost so much time on earlier stages that they can't possibly threaten the yellow jersey even if they make a relatively large time gain) go off for breakaways and stage wins, and maybe a few more riders find a way to sink out of contention of one jersey or another.

Then comes Stage 14. Observe that profile like Tuesday's stage, this one features a big mountain closely followed by a big mountaintop finish. With the added stings of more days of racing, more depleted teams (Discovery lost Triki Beltran, one of their mountain specialists, to a crash this week), and time running out, this is a stage where all the favourites will have to be prepared for major attacks.

In other words? The game plan for Discovery is for the team to control the stage, fly up the second climb, burn themselves up, and then Lance takes over and finishes off whoever is left, just like on Tuesday.

If I'm reading the time schedule correctly, the expected finish will be between 7:30 and 8:20 on Saturday morning, PDT. The racing will be quite intense for the last hour or two as they face the Port de Pailheres and the romantically named Ax-3-Domaines.

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