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Yeah Cards, after last night, it's hard to see anyone challenging Nibali. Of course, there's a number of grueling climbs ahead but he may well increase his lead. Winning 'le tour' would complete the trifecta for Nibali (he also won the "Vuelta a España" in 2010 as well as the "Giro d'Italia" in 2013)

Valverde might challenge and I hope he does but ... it's a big ask - he couldn't go with Nibali last night when the heat was on. There's always the chance that Nibali might crack but he, along with his team, looks too strong. He was far too superior last night and full credit to him for winning the stage. Bad luck for Porte but he'll live to fight another day.

The remaining climbs still remain compelling viewing though and you just never know what might happen. I'll post up the profile later on but the riders start climbing the first of 3 category 1 climbs right from the word go tonight.

Edited by Macca

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Tonight's coverage starts from 8.30pm on SBS & SBS HD. Whether we see any of the GC riders attack Nibali or whether Nibali shows any signs of cracking remains to be seen. Regardless of all that, it's a very tough stage.

The picturesque nature of last night's stage is sure to be repeated tonight and the final climb may prove too much for a few of the GC riders. Porte may be in a position to win a stage or 2 from here on in so there's still a bit to aim for.

PROFIL.png

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The area is just amazing, wife and I drove around it on the way to Switzerland earlier this year. From flat to mountains out of no where.

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Caught a look at the Arènes de Nîmes at the completion of stage 15 ... quite a sight. The Roman Amphitheatre is still in use and has been used by quite a few bands (Metallica, Dire Straits, Rammstein and others)

Anyway, we're now in the Pyrenees and tonight's stage is supposed to be harder than it looks. This is the first of 3 days in the Pyrenees and we might see that Nibali has increased his lead by the end of stage 18 ... or perhaps there's an outside chance that he might be feeling the pinch. I reckon the former argument is far more likely.

Here's a write-up of tonight's stage (stage 16) ...

Km 216 - Port de Balès for a start

The milestone to nail down in this stage 16 between Carcassonne and Bagneres-de-Luchon is undoubtedly at kilometre 216 at the top of Port de Bales.

Recent history showed that the man reaching the top with a margin over his rivals managed to keep it all the way down to the finish line. It is reason enough to try hard on the 11.7-km climb with an average declivity of 7.7 pc since a stage victory is at stale. Thomas Voeckler knows how to do it as he won in Luchon in 2012.

For Thibaut Pinot, this is the first key moment of the Pyrenees: "Everybody is talking about Hautacam but seirous things start with Port de Bales on Tuesday," he said.

The profile ...

PROFIL.png

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Sad news for cycling fans. Andy Schleck retires.

"I'm obviously disappointed to end my career like this," said the 29-year-old Schleck.

"I would have liked to keep on fighting but my knee just doesn't allow it. Since my crash in the UK there has hardly been any progress. While the ligaments have healed, the damaged cartilage is another story.

"I have been working hard on rehabbing the knee, but came to the hard realisation that at the risk of irreversibly injuring it, this is the best course of action."

He's certainly seemed out of sorts in the last tour.
A crowd favourite, will be missed.

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The Giro d'italia kicks off on Saturday night ... looks like SBS & SBS HD are covering every day of this Grand Tour - from about 10.30pm - 11.00pm (Cable Eurosport HD & Eurosport SD are also covering every day)

Contador is even money favourite but our own Richie Porte is a firm short priced 2nd favourite and he might be a real show with the might of the Sky team behind him.

Richie Porte confirmed as Team Sky’s leader in Giro d’Italia

Richie Porte will lead the Sky team in the Giro d’Italia. The 30-year-old Australian, who has won the Paris-Nice race, the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino this season, will lead a nine-man squad in the race, which begins in San Lorenzo on Saturday.

Porte said: “The Giro d’Italia has been my main goal of the season. I’ve worked very hard through the winter and am entering the race strong, healthy and up for the challenge. The competition will be tough and anything can happen in a Grand Tour but we’ve got a great group of riders going into the race and we are ready for it.”

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Porte has had some great results early setting himself up for this. Can't wait to see how he goes squaring off against the Spanish guy.

Edited by Cards13
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Tough start for Porte, the Spanish guy is hard enough to beat let alone giving him 20 seconds in stage 1. Good luck Ritchie!!!

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Contador holds a 2 second lead over Fabio Aru whilst Porte is 3rd (20 seconds behind the Spaniard) Things may hot up on the weekend though - the stages on Saturday and Sunday contains some reasonable climbs.

I'll post up the profiles of both days on Saturday if I get a chance. The SBS coverage has been first rate as usual.

Stage 5 highlights

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Contador still leads by 2 seconds over Fabio Aru with Porte still 3rd (20 seconds behind the Spaniard)

Tonight and tomorrow night the riders have a few climbs ahead of them ... here are the 2 profiles ... coverage begins tonight from 10.30pm (SBS & Eurosport)

T08_CampitelloM_alt.jpg?psid=1

T09_SanGiorgioDS_alt.jpg?psid=1

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The Tour de France starts tonight as many are aware ... Froome and Quintana are joint favourites whilst Contador and Nibali are joint 2nd favourites. Rodriguez is an outside chance and Porte is at long odds as he's in the same Sky team as Froome.

The course is reasonably flat until we get into the 2nd week when it really hots up ... before the last flat stage (stage 21), there are no fewer than 9 of the 11 prior stages that involve climbs ranging from extremely difficult to reasonably difficult. Many of those stages involve multiple climbs. So there's quite a lead in after an initial week and a half of basically flat stages.

I'll post up some profiles in the 2nd week but here's the official site with the stage previews

Also, here's the profile of the 3rd last stage (stage 19) ... the leading riders will have already completed 7 difficult stages from their last 9 completed stages before embarking on this one ...

PROFIL.png

Edited by Macca

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South Australian Rohan Dennis wins the time trial in record breaking style ... he may hold on to the yellow jersey for a while if the next few stages end up being decided by the sprinters (remembering that the riders don't hit the Pyrénées until stage 10) ...

Tour de France: Next challenge for Rohan Dennis after time trial win - show he can climb

6595654-3x2-340x227.jpg

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Current standings

Over the next 3 nights the riders venture into the Pyrenees ... 3 tough stages which should start sorting out the general classifications.

Froome leads the way but the other notable riders in the race aren't all that far behind him. There's sure to be an attack or 2 over the next 3 nights (it should also be noted that we're in the Alps next week for another 4 tough stages)

Preview stage 10

Preview stage 11

Preview stage 12

And here are the 3 profiles ...

PROFIL.png

PROFIL.png

PROFIL.png

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The race almost seems over already. I guess you've got to admire Froome for being so dominant, but it doesn't do much for the spectacle of the race. I'm hoping Quintana can give him a run for his money over some of the upcoming mainatin stages (16-18 maybe).

Nibali has bounced back somewhat after a disappointing start to the tour, but he's too far back to be any threat.

The big news for me so far this tour has been Porte's announcement that he will be leaving Sky at the end of the year to be a team leader. Not sure which team he's heading off to, but that will certainly make the next few years tours more interesting (hopefully)

The mail stops for no-one (or race)

On Saturday, during the first stage of this year’s three-week race, a postman in Utrecht went berserk after learning the race route blocked his way. After lifting his own bike and two bags of what he described was full of "80 kilos of post" over the police barricade, he decided to tear the fence down to get by.

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The race almost seems over already. I guess you've got to admire Froome for being so dominant, but it doesn't do much for the spectacle of the race. I'm hoping Quintana can give him a run for his money over some of the upcoming mainatin stages (16-18 maybe).

Nibali has bounced back somewhat after a disappointing start to the tour, but he's too far back to be any threat.

The big news for me so far this tour has been Porte's announcement that he will be leaving Sky at the end of the year to be a team leader. Not sure which team he's heading off to, but that will certainly make the next few years tours more interesting (hopefully)

The mail stops for no-one (or race)

Puts a new angle on "The Postman always rings twice" hey? ... What a complete nutter - 80 kgs of "post" seems a tad high, all the same.

Anyway, you're right with your summation of how the race is heading JJ - the only bit I'll add is that Froome still has to carry out what shouldn't be too much of an ask for him.

Stages 17 through to 20 are all in the Alps and all 4 of them are difficult as far as I can make out ... previously we've seen 3 tough stages in a row in the Alps but I'm not sure that they've been 3 of the last 4 stages. So ... it's possibly the toughest finish to a tour we've ever seen.

The other thing to remember is that some of Froome's rivals are so far back they've got no alternative but to attack. I'll post up the profiles and previews of the 4 Alp's stages next Tuesday (assuming they all fit in one post)

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Quitana into 2nd. Attacked a few times on what was a pretty minor final mountain section. He couldn't shake Froome, but like you said all his rivals are so far back he's going to have to cover a barrage of attacks in the coming mountain stages.

Still, I think it's down to a 2 man race, with Quintana having to come from a long way back.

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Current standings

Rest day tonight but then it's 4 days in the Alps ...

Stage 17 Preview ... Profile ...

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Stage 18 Preview ... Profile ...

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Stage 19 Preview ... Profile ...

PROFIL.png

Stage 20 Preview ... Profile ...

PROFIL.png

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Froome seems to have them all covered with a Sky team that also is very cohesive and committed.

Seems Ritchie is going to BMC which is a pity. Orica have a great team but no real GC contender. Gerro may have missed his chance.

Ritchie would slip into the Orica squad well and there is plenty of depth to support him and allow him to finish off.

Hope The Orica management have given this every chance of happening

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Froome seems to have them all covered with a Sky team that also is very cohesive and committed.

Seems Ritchie is going to BMC which is a pity. Orica have a great team but no real GC contender. Gerro may have missed his chance.

Ritchie would slip into the Orica squad well and there is plenty of depth to support him and allow him to finish off.

Hope The Orica management have given this every chance of happening

I think you're right dp ... haven't seen all of the last 2 stages but apparently Froome withstood a number of challenges.

Quintana looks to be the only one with any sort of chance but Froome seems to have him covered. Tonight's stage is a short one and they've just started out ... category 1 climb right from the get-go!

Live coverage from the official site

SBS.com tour tracker

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Well done Froome. He's been pretty dominant from the start.

The Alpe D'Huez was a pretty amazing stage. Quintana attacking and taking some time off Froome. I think he probably stayed behind his Movistar teammate for too long when he should have been attacking harder and going it alone. But maybe he had started to run out of beans. Also missed an opportunity on Col de la Croix de Fer when Valverde couldn't go with him. If those 2 had got away it would have been a spectacular final climb.

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Well done Froome. He's been pretty dominant from the start.

The Alpe D'Huez was a pretty amazing stage. Quintana attacking and taking some time off Froome. I think he probably stayed behind his Movistar teammate for too long when he should have been attacking harder and going it alone. But maybe he had started to run out of beans. Also missed an opportunity on Col de la Croix de Fer when Valverde couldn't go with him. If those 2 had got away it would have been a spectacular final climb.

JJ didn't get to watch as much as I wanted to this year, to be fair I didn't push the late nights to much until the last 3 days.

Froome was so far in front it seemed impossible for him to be caught. Sky and Froome clearly the dominate team and rider this year. Their grinding style works a treat but sucks the life out of it. Froomey does nothing for me so really struggled to stay involved until the last 3 days even though he has a brilliant high reving technique.

Hurry little Q tip to mature, I love watching him ride he is a little freak.

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Yeah, a thrilling finish too ... Hayman is turning 38 in just over a week so to win the Paris-Roubaix at this late stage of his career is some sort of achievement.  Broke his arm six weeks ago as well - he wins at his 16th try at the event.

Well done Mathew!

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