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TdF Stage 11 Albertville – La Toussuire – Les Sybelles

July 28, 2012

The big mountain stage was always likely to sort out the contenders and have a large influence on the winner, and today did not disappoint. Sky was in control all day and stayed cool when there were attacks all around them. They obviously had a very clear idea who they thought were dangerous, and even when those few attacked they only slightly increased the tempo to bring them back. The whole team worked hard and have been rewarded by cementing the race lead.

Rolland escaped early and went clear on the last climb. It looked like he might be caught when he was climbing slowly with tired legs, but did well enough to complete another superb mountain top win. His team mate Kern did an incredible job pushing the pace on the previous climb, Europcar shows again how a small team can out-perform the superstars.

The big news amongst the GC contenders was Evans fading at the end and losing over a minute. He looked like he was really struggling for most of the day. When he attacked early, it was a sign of desperation. The team set it up well with team mates up front. However, his legs clearly did not have any strength to keep ahead of Wiggins and his incredible Sky team.

Indeed, Wiggins strongest contender is clearly his team mate Froome who has overtaken Evans to take second place. Froome was a sensation in the Vuelta last year and looks the complete package. He had a disruptive early season but is still in great form and a much stronger climber than Wiggins. Sky must be happy to have him in the team.

There were plenty of attacks from the big names and it looked ominous at one point when Nibali caught up with Brajkovic and van den Broeck. All Sky did was switch to a fresher better climber and pulled them back together. When the pace stayed on, most of the competition was shelled out the back. Only five finished ahead of Wiggins. The likes of Brajkovic, Schleck and Klöden lost time.

The transition to the Pyrennes will give some respite to the GC favourites and an opportunity for the breaks and sprinters. Whilst the race looks so good for Sky and Wiggins, we are only half way.

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