Altitude will key today’s Tour stage

Luxembourg's national road champion Frank Schleck (R) climb with Asutralia's Cadel Evans in the 211 km and twelfth stage of the 2011 Tour de France.

With three climbs of more than 2,000 meters?(6,562 feet) and the highest-ever Tour de France finish at 2,645 meters (8,678 feet) on the Galibier pass, altitude will be a deciding factor in today’s 18th stage.

“Two thousand meters is the limit at which every one of us is suddenly lacking oxygen,” Movistar team director Yvon Ledanois said. “Some riders handle it well, and others [handle it] far worse.”

With 2,000-meter finishes so rare, there’s no real need to prepare for the altitude. But most contenders prepped specially for today’s stage.

“Cadel [Evans] has good references at altitude and he’s always felt well in the high mountains, but we organized two training camps at altitude as soon as we discovered the course,” Evans’ team director, John Lelangue, said.

Evans — who sits second behind Thomas Voeckler — Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck are generally regarded as the three favorites on today’s climbs.



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