Limoux is the start point and Foix is the finish for this peculiar stage that is 191 km long and could be sold as a “mountain” one had it been about one fifth shorter.
As it stands, this is part of the ASO’s attempt to shake up mountain riding by pairing big climbs with big drops and riders will have to get to an latitude of 1,375 meters with an average gradient of 9 percent and a spike to 18% before dropping down to 410 meters in about 40 km.
It’s hard to stage, evaluate and plan for both in the real and the virtual words because so much depends on the strength of the breakaway that forms and how much time they are able to pick up in the initial part of the stage.
Unfortunately, it will probably all fall prey to a capable group of riders who ride aggressively, while the favorites mark each other and the two climbs fail to create a significant slip in the group.
I really tried to push the tempo in order to put the leader of the race, Cadel Evans, in difficulty and separate him from his team, but his support riders did well and the split did not happen.
The long downhill also meant that no one was able to escape and push forward too far and the breakaways fought among themselves for the win.
I tried to get a few seconds in the closing kilometers, taking advantage of a little bump in the road, but I failed to make an impact.
I now only have one or two stages where I can pick up time and put myself in a good position before the final time trial.