2006 Tour de France Preview and Predictions

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06/30/2006| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears). Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears). Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

2006 Tour de France Preview and Predictions

The 2006 Tour de France will be the first Tour of the post-Armstrong era.

stage, will see the field over the
Col
 des Saisies, des Aravis, de
la Colombiere , the Cote de Chatillon and the Col de Joux-Plane. From the top of the Joux-Plane, the riders will plunge 12 km to the finish.

 


Stage 8 will be a 193-km run from Morzine to
Macon
, and Stage 19 will be a rolling, 56-km time trial from Le Creusot to Montceau-les-Mines. Stage 20, which will be a 152-km run from Antony (Parc de Sceaux) to
Paris
, will be a procession for the winner.

 

During the second week of the Tour, the riders will climb the Pyrenees, and they will approach the
Alps. Stage 9 will be a flat, 170-km ride from
Bordeaux
to Dax that figures to be won by a sprinter. Stage 10, the first Pyrenean stage, will be a 193-km run from Cambo-les-Bains to Pau that will take the riders over the Cols d?Osquich, du Soulet, and de Marie Blanque. Stage 11, a 204-km slog from Tarbes to Val d?Aran/Pla-de-Beret in
Spain
, will go over the Cols du Tourmalet, d?Aspin, de Peyresourde, and du Pourtillon before ending with the race?s first mountaintop finish. Stage 12 will take place on Bastille Day, with a Frenchman attempting to win the 211-km ride from Luchon to
Carcassonne
. Stage 13 will be a flat, 231-km run from
Beziers
to Montelimar, and Stage 14 will extend 181 km from Montelimar to Gap. The second rest day will take place on Monday, July 17.

 

The riders will tackle the Tour?s first Alpine stage on Tuesday, July 18. On Stage 15, the field will start in Gap and will breast the Cols d?Izoard and de Lautaret before fighting for the day?s honors atop L?Alpe d?Huez. Stage 16 will take the riders from Bourg d?Oisans over the Cols du Galibier, du Telegraphe, du Glandon, de
la Croix-de -Fer, and du Mollard to the finishing climb to
La Toussuire. Stage 17, the 2006 Tour?s last mountain stage, will see the field over the
Col
des Saisies, des Aravis, de
la Colombiere , the Cote de Chatillon and the Col de Joux-Plane. From the top of the Joux-Plane, the riders will plunge 12 km to the finish.

 

Stage 18 will be a 193-km run from Morzine to
Macon
, and Stage 19 will be a rolling, 56-km time trial from Le Creusot to Montceau-les-Mines. Stage 20, which will be a 152-km run from Antony (Parc de Sceaux) to
Paris
, will be a procession for the winner. <?xml:namespace prefix = u1 /?>

 

Who will the winner be? Operation Puerto has thrown the door open. Ivan Basso (CSC), Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), and Francisco Mancebo (Ag2r) have all been implicated in the scandal and have been withdrawn from the race. Astana-Wurth appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) when the Tour organizers banned the Spanish squad from the race, but a cloud hangs over team captain Alexander Vinokourov?s head. With this knowledge and with the possibility of further exclusions, Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) becomes this author?s favorite to win the Tour.

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