STAGE 19 - Bonneval Chartres53.5 km
A 10% chance of rain so in short it will be sunny and pretty warm.
The desperate manoeuvring and battling is over and finally after much doubting we have a winner in everything but name. Wiggins and Sky overcame every obstacle in their way, though Vincenzo Nibali did muster a fight but it turned out to not be sufficient.
Today’s stage therefore has become a mere procession for Bradley Wiggins who was expected to have to win the race in the Time trials but has ended up being more than capable in the mountains so much so that the Time trials were not even required to an extent. With un insurmountable lead over Nibali, it will be time for Wiggins to relieve the pressure, but knowing the intense and determined figure he is he will not be parley to go of on a weak note and considering that he won the previous Time trial and is the strongest Time triallist in the race it will be more than likely that if he has any power left in his legs he will want to end on a high and demonstrate his credentials for the Olympic Gold which is now less than a fortnight away.
In terms of his challengers, it would seem as if the tables may have been turned from the scenario in the mountains where it was Froome who was seemingly the strongest. This time around Wiggins is in his element and Froome though a good Time triallist may find it difficult to defeat his team leader and the man who is yet to be defeated in any Time trial so far this year. If Froome does manage the seemingly impossibly and beats Wiggins then it will be sobering and rather embarrassing state of affairs for the maillot jaune with there leaving no doubt as to who the strongest rider in the race was. The first Time trial though where Wiggins beat everybody else including Froome should be a good indication though of who is the strongest in this field and it would be hard to look past Wiggins for the win, though one can only dream of Froome passing Wiggins on his way to the overall win, one wonders whether if Wiggins has a mechanical they will ask Froome to stop riding
The other GC contenders will be fighting to gain time though on one another in a frantic battle which is all about brute strength on a course which will sieve the weak contenders from those who indeed have the legs to give it their all for one last painstaking day. The top 10 itself seems pretty set but it is the manoeuvring inside that top ten which will be important. Janez Brajkovic was a tad disappointing in the first time trial but he remains a solid time triallist and he is certainly capable of overcoming the 43 second deficit to Pierre Rolland. Further along the time gaps are too vast for any realistic alterations in GC. And unless Nibali can perform a miracle and reserve and then gain 35 seconds from the first time trial deficit he had on Chris Froome then Froome will certainly be guaranteed second.
The route itself is one which features a totally pan flat first 38km this will surely favour the true powerhouses of the peloton; riders like Bert Grabsch and David Millar if they can improve on their Besancon perfomances. The next 15.5km are harder but only slightly though they also feature some tricky corners where the supreme bike handling skills of Wiggins may be extremely beneficial. It should be considered that the GC riders however exhausted they may be do have the benefit of being prepared for the rigours of a GC and their superior recovery may aid them in competing against the specialists, effectively I am saying this stage is nailed on for either Froome or Wiggins.Start town:Bonneval
Is often reffered to as the little Venice and for good cause as well. Though it may not be built on a canal with the worst transport system of a modern city it nevertheless has the green luscious nature and surrounding ditches which Venice is so famous for.
Another castle to add to the collection:
And another: (in fact an abbey)
And family activities:http://www.letour.fr/PHOTOS/TDF/2012/1900/2-p.jpgFinish Town:
This town is in fact built on the site of an ancient Gallic City and it owed its names to the Carnutes who occupied the region at the time. Nowadays it is primarily famous for the Notre Dame Chathedral which is a masterpiece in Gothic art and has been given UNESCO World Heritage status but in fact the whole town is lit up with a variety of intriguing architectural treasures.
Here is the infamous structure which dominates the city towering over everything else, a bit freaky imo.
And what the building is know for which are the blue stained windows:
The city centre:Stage Contenders:Outsiders:Tejay Van Garderen:Peter Velits:Cadel Evans:Vincenzo Nibali:David Millar:Andreas Kloden:
Maxime Monfort:Janez Brajkovic:Bert Grabsch:Predictions: The
first time check comes at 14km in and considering the relative short distance we would have travelled from the finish it would seems to be perfect for a good prologue rider such as Mark Cavendish who got a top 3 in the Tour of Romandie prologue earlier this season. He may be challenged by another early starter in Christian Knees who is capable of a very good time trial or another experienced rider who is very strong on the flat in Bernie Eisel. The
second time check will certainly see the emergence of the more capable time triallists such a riders who have established themselves as the best in their country; logically this would be the perfect platform for Edvald Boassen Hagen to take the lead and keep it as he has won his National TT championships a staggering 5 times out of 6. Yet Boassen Hagen will have to compete with very talented and more experienced competitors than he with better palmares, primarily a 3 time world champion in Michael Rogers who won the illustrious Bayern Rundfahrt time trial agains competition such as multiple TT world champion Fabian Cancellara so against this field who can only muster a single world title amongst them he should comfortably be one of the favourites. Coming up to the last few kilometres the race should be getting pretty frantic and this should result in a rider who has proven recently that he is capable of churning out good time trial perfomances. That would logically be Richie Porte who came higher than all his competitors bar Bradley Wiggins and the off form Bert Grabsch in the most recent World championships. But
at the finish it will certainly be a battle between the two riders who are currently on the best form in this year’s Tour, the strongest rider in the Tour who is Chris Froome will be battling against Wiggins who is unbeaten in all Time trials this year. This pair were easily the best in the first time trial and we have seen nothing to suggest they would otherwise be so in this Time trial as well. There may be other riders featuring but it seems unlikely that any will be capable of ousting these 9 who have performed superbly throughout the Tour, hope I havent missed anyone out in my predictions.
“This will be the moment of truth. Let the climbers be warned: with a last 52-km long time-trial to tackle, they will have to gain a significant amount of time in the mountains. And the best flat racers know that, during a final attack, everything can be seen in a new light.” Christian Prudhomme
“For the first 38km it’s super fast and nice roads, then it does get trickier. It’s a big distance and it will obviously play a decisive role in the final results. It’s the last chance for a reversal of any positions and it’s going to be interesting” Sean Yates
"The final round before the finish in Paris. What will come out of this 53.5 km time trial on rather flattish terrain, except the first part on the rolling hills of the Perche region? Personally, I expect gaps of two to three minutes between leaders. Three weeks into the race, 53.5 km are a long way to go in a time trial. This also holds true for the yellow jersey, who will probably come behind specialists such as Martin or Cancellara. Think of the Pauillac time trial in 2010, when Cancellara took the win on a similar course and Menchov, the freshest of all the leaders, propelled himself onto the final podium." Jean Francois Peschaux