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Eight KM to Decide It All

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Swiss_mediumThe Tour de Romandie, in its shortened form, is inching toward a decision with all the haste of an interagency task force. But it has to happen eventually, and unlike a good task force there's something of a hard deadline, Sunday afternoon (Geneva time). IMHO it will be all over sooner, however.

Sunday's stage reaches the highest point in the race, but after the highly selective Col du Marchairuz, there are 35km of mostly descending and another flattish 30km drag along the shores of Lake Geneva. Riders looking to solidify their placings need only drag themselves up the Col and then call in the reinforcements to reel in any troublemakers.

That leaves tomorrow's stage:

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Fontaines_1__mediumNo single climb seems especially fearsome, which means the last one is by far the likely place where the deal will go down. As it happens, this is a rather well-worn route from Fontaine to Mauborget. In looking for info on the climb, I found numerous references to old hill climbs along this route... by what? Foot? Horse? Did they hold bike races here as far back as 1907? No clue. But the antiquated map at right is evidence of the long-standing interest sporting types have had in this course. It's about 620 meters of elevation gain in eight km, which translates into an average grade of just under 8%. The remaining 11km is mostly downhill to the line, hardly a place for a shattered field to regroup. Like I said, it's business time.

As for who will saunter away with the overall, Frantisek Rabon will be under pressure from some superior climbers and doesn't figure to hold on. Columbia have Tony Martin, Morris Possoni and Kanstantin Sivtsov in the top 7, all within 22 seconds, so they have other cards to play when Caisse d'Epargne start setting up Valverde and maybe Uran. Valverde is probably the favorite, as the highest-placed "climber" (19" back), but Kreuziger (+34), Gilbert (+36), and Evans (+40) are well within range.

I'll go with Sivtsov. Who ya got?