Here are the numbers you need to know for tomorrow's entry into the Alpes:
- Côte de Corlier: 6.4 km @ 5.3%
- Côte de Cruseilles: 7.1 km @ 4.4%
- Côte Peguin: 4.3 km @ 4.1%
- Col de la Colombière: 16.0 km @ 6.8%
Cycle Sport's preview rates this stage an 8 on the 10-scale of importance, but I'd probably knock off a point or two. One measly cat-1 climb isn't going to blow the race to smithereens, to use some Liggett-speak, and that's before contemplating the neutralizing effect of the long ride down to the finish. The Colombière is long and strenuous enough to take the yellow jersey off Fabian Cancellara's back, and to make Kloden and Vinokourov suffer if they're actually injured. A few other pretenders might disappear in a hurry. But Sunday's stage consists of three cat-1 climbs, and Tuesday features two hors categoire jaunts. So the only people who will be leaving it all on the Colombière are guys who don't care much about the next two stages.
In other words, stage hunters will come out. We might also see the Chavanel vs. ~:> battle for KOM supremacy joined. Rasmussen hasn't shown much patience once the mountains begin. Savoldelli might be licking his chops at that downhill finish. And if Vino is feeling OK, maybe he'll start messing around with the other contenders, all of whom suffer from risk aversion to one degree or another. How about sending Kashechkin up the road and seeing if anyone panics?