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Gérardmer / Mulhouse

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Arenberg: let's get ready to rumble! (2/5)


© Presse Sports

In the run-up to 4th July, will be analysing 5 key stages on the route of the 2014 edition. Of symbolic importance in the development of the race or perhaps decisive with regard to the final general individual classification, they possess the required characteristics for an exceptional sporting show. The day after its return to mainland Europe, the Tour de France pack will be tackling the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, which will be of particular interest to Fabian Cancellara.

The route of Le Tour endeavours to promote all the specialities of cycling. The cobbles of northern France and Belgium occupy a significant place in the history of the discipline and can regularly be found on the programme of the Big Loop. The exercise of power and skill that they demand of the riders contributes to the difficulty of the Tour de France and sorts out the winners from the pretenders. This year, nine cobbled sections of Paris-Roubaix will be crossed on the 5th stage, totalling more than 15 kilometres of cobbles, which is enough rumbling to tire the legs of the Big Loop's favourites throughout the last 70 kilometres. For the riders gunning for the title, their mind will be primarily focused on overcoming these obstacles without problems. As for the specialists of the Queen of the Classics, they will be aiming at enjoying another taste of glory.
Among the winners of Paris-Roubaix present in the pack, Fabian Cancellara possesses the most impressive roll of honour, with three triumphs on the spring classic, as well as three victories on the Tour of Flanders! The cobble expert does not have an equal on this sort of terrain and will most likely see 9th July as an opportunity to again strike a decisive blow. In 2010, on the last visit of Le Tour to Arenberg, Fabian Cancellara's mission was to protect his team's leaders, a deal which he perfectly fulfilled for Andy Schleck, who finished in 5th place with the same time as Cadel Evans, whilst Frank Schleck exited the race with a fractured shoulder. As a bonus, the Swiss rider notably took hold of the Yellow Jersey, which he kept until the race reached the Vosges Mountains.
On reaching Arenberg, it is likely that Fabian Cancellara will have more freedom to go on the attack. The general individual classification may perhaps have already been shaken up by the stage that finishes in Sheffield, but the Yellow Jersey is likely to be within reach over the cobbles. With 21 days spent in yellow since 2004, the Trek team rider already boasts the record for currently active cyclists: at this level of the race hierarchy, he is the only one of them to have never won Le Tour. A 22nd day at the top of the classification would enable him to overtake Romain Maes and Greg LeMond, whilst a 23rd would see him leave Zoop Zoetemelk and Laurent Fignon in his wake! A fine challenge for this cycling history enthusiast…
It is customary to say that the Tour de France can be lost on the cobbles. Consequently, the multiple interest and stakes could, for example, distract certain teams from the objective of a stage victory. However, Fabian Cancellara will still have to deal with experienced or up and coming cobble experts, starting with German John Degenkolb, who beat him to grab 2nd place at the Roubaix cycling stadium last April and who also should be unhindered by other constraints on 9th July. Geraint Thomas will be assigned to protecting his team leader Chris Froome, but it is not out of the question to see him taking part in the final battle at the finish. The 6th place accomplished by Peter Sagan on Paris-Roubaix singles him out as a possible recipient of the day's bouquet, almost more so than the winner Niki Terpstra and just as much as Sep Vanmarcke (4th), Zdenek Stybar (5th) or even Arnaud Démare (12th).

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Jersey wearers after the stage 9

Classifications after the stage 9

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Will the three stages in the Vosges determine the overall winner?

  • Yes, they’ll confirm Nibali’s domination9.61%
  • No, the real fight will happen in the Alps47.68%
  • No, Contador will win the Tour in the Pyrenees30.74%
  • No, Porte will beat them all in the time trial11.97%
2498 votes

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