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Tour Stage 8 Preview: Andorre-la-Vieille - Saint-Girons

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Stage 8 :: Saturday July 11, 2009
176.5km :: Andorre-la-Vieille - Saint-Girons

Well, it's certainly going to be another climby affair, with rolling terrain all over the place and lots of canyon carving and valley running for the peloton. Aspects of this year's Tour continue to echo stage qualities from the Giro and this stage is no exception, with a start that goes straight up hill from Andorra to the Cat.1 summit of Port d'Envalira. How's that for a morning warm up.

We are far removed from the coastline finally (no more echelons :( ) and now we cross borders again, Andorra into France, but never escape the Pyrénées. According to the font of all useless knowledge, Wikipedia, the Pyrénées are named after a really horrific Greek myth involving Pyrene, the daughter of Bebryx.  Apparently there was some non-consensual sex between Pyrene and Heracles, after which she was so distraught, she went wandering in the mountains, got lost and was eaten by wolves.  Charming.  Herodotus needed a place for that all to happen, so after tossing back a few chalices of leaded wine, he threw a dart at the vellum map he had nailed to the wall and it landed in these mountains, hence the mountains of Pyrene . . . the Pyrénées. But I digress . . .

Gavia most assuredly has something to say, for which she earns a nice, shiny, quiche...

With [tomorrow's] stage, the Tour says adiós to Spain and Andorre and returns to France by way of the Pyrénées. The stage begins in Andorre-la-Vieille, the capital of the independent principality, Andorre. Independent principalities, so hot this year. The stage includes three climbs as it passes through the Pyrénées. Though a mountain stage, the climbs are not the kind of hors catégorie monsters that shatter the field. The final climb summits just over 45 kilometers from the finish, which may serve to neutralize it in terms of the general classification battle.

The stage winner in Saint-Girons will most likely come from an early breakaway. With three categorized climbs, this stage is also a good one for collecting mountains classification points. The general classification riders, meanwhile, will save their legs for another day.

The Tour follows a similar pattern to 1997 with the finish at Andorre-Arcalis and the following stage start at Andorre-la-Vieille. The Andorre-la-Vieille stage, which climbed the Port d’Envalira and the Col de Chioula, finished in Perpignan. French rider Laurent Desbiens of Cofidis won the stage from a three-up breakaway. Though Sergueï Outschakov of Polti won the sprint, the race jury ruled that the Ukrainian changed his line and blocked Desbiens. They disqualified Outschakov and awarded victory to Desbiens. Andorre-la-Vieille has hosted a Tour stage finish only once previously. Julio Jimenez of KAS-Kaskol celebrated the stage victory in 1964. Georges Groussard of Pelforth wore the Yellow Jersey that day. Though Groussard held the jersey for nine days during the 1964 Tour, Jacques Anquetil of Saint-Raphaël won the overall in Paris.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 8 Preview at Steephill.tv

"Independent principalities, so hot this year."  Is there any doubt who wrote that? :)

On with the show... follow the yellow brick road and you'll go from Principality to Republic in a heart beat... well... more like a heart rate of 155bpm.

Editor's note: I have temporarily removed the photos from this post, because of a hack to Imageshack. We will restore them as soon as possible. Thanks.