The 11th stage of Le Tour de France 2012 is the first one that will force a selection and everyone will have a clearer idea of how the favorites feel and who might and might not win the General Classification.
The distance is short at 148 km, but that’s only because there are four major climbs on the route, including the Col de la Madeleine, the Col de la Croix de Fer (both of them Hors Categorie), the Col du Mollard and the finishing climb towards La Toussuire.
This is a difficult stage to call in the real world because so much can happen: a strong rider can take off on the first HC climb and then try to hold on to the finish, a group can form up and then hold off the depleted peloton or a solid bunch could go up until the final climb and then a flurry of attack can shatter it.
In the virtual world, things are very similar and I have a dual plan of attack for Stage 11: I will try to launch a long range assault with a rider who has a climbing of more than 70 and feels good (which is indicated by a small arrow pointing up and down and then by actual numbers on his in race profile) while at the same time keeping my leader close to the front and marking other dangerous riders.
Unfortunately, my attempts for an early break were futile and I put my entire team to work on the front, where they initially got a lot of help from BMC, the boys who are supporting Cadel Evans, the current leader of the GC.
Once the two Hors Categories climbs were done, I eased up a little and allowed the two riders who were in front to fight among themselves for the stage win.
I then protected my leader and, in the last five kilometers, I attack with Schleck and managed to distance some favorites, although Cadel managed to stick to me in order to avoid losing any of his own lead.
Take a look at how the entire stage played out below: