Set your DVR to record this one. The weather forecast for the much anticipated stage 18 of this years Tour de France calls for a whole lot of fun for the riders. Several riders have already expressed their concern over the inclusion of the Col de Sarenne descent sandwiched between two climbs up L’Alpe d’Huez, and that was before the weather forecast: thunder, rain, hail, high winds, cold. It's a potential mess in the making, and Saxo-Tinkoff has something to gain by attacking Chris Froome.

Chris Froome has already suggested race director Christian Prudhomme eliminate the dangerous descent, and second climb up L’Alpe d’Huez, a view not shared by Contador or Saxo-Tinkoff team manager Bjarne Riis:

This is bike racing, not a Sunday afternoon ride.

Froome (and Contador) were close to major crashes during the final descent of stage 16 as Contador pushed the attack on the maillot jaune. This stage, the centerpiece of the 100th edition of the Tour de France, looks to be one to watch because it is the last chance for Contador, or teammate Roman Kreuziger, to make up significant time on Froome, and to turn the final days of this edition of the tour into something a lot more interesting.


The precedent for such attacks do exist, even when time does not seem to be on the side of the attacker.

Joeseba Beloki was never the same after a serious crash when attacking race leader Lance Armstrong in 2003, and in the process pushed Armstrong to his limits (as you can see in the video). On the other hand, Luis Ocaña lost the tour in 1971 trying to protect a 7 minute lead over an attacking Eddy Merckx in slop and rain:

They say races are rarely won on descents, but they can be lost (NYTimes, but no idea when I first heard this). The long ago planned stage 18, the potential for nasty weather, and the standings are aligning to put this old saying to the test.

Photo credits: left, Joseba Beloki (on ground) in 2003; right, Luis Ocaña (knees up) in 1971 from Cycling Passion (original source unknown).