TdF 2007 - Stage 14
The first of the stage in the Pyrenees confirmed once again that extremely steep climbs such as those proposed in the Giro d' Italia in the last few years are not necessary to create a big selection and big big delays; it's the repetition of long climbs that decisively empties the tanks of the riders, already partially drained by all the previous efforts.
Those who spent too much in yesterday's time trial, today payed the toll more or less heavy, also because of the several crashes some of the top riders had and that always compromise the performances of the following days.
More than one hour of "all-out" effort can campletely empty muscle glycogen stores, and in such cases 12-16 hours might not be enough to replenish.
It's opportune in fact to ride time trials at 95% of one's best: you lose about 1"/km, but you don't risk to ride inred the next day.
After the climb up Col de Pailheres in 49' ( VAM=1481 m/h), on the final climb to Plateau de Beille Contador and Rasmussen were faster than Armstrong ad Basso in 2004: 44' with a VAM=1690 m/h for the first 2 today, versus the 45' of the Italo-american duo 3 years ago.
And tomorrow looms large another 196km marathon with 5 very tough climbs: those who want to recover some time in the GC will have to attack far from the finish...