Aigurande > Super-Besse Sancy

The race heads into the Massif Central for the first mountains of the 2011 Tour, and has the same start and finish towns as the stage on the 2008 Tour won by Riccardo Riccò, though the Italian was stripped of that victory which was awarded instead to the runner-up, Alejandro Valverde. Later in that year’s race, as it detoured into Italy, the Spaniard would give the blood sample that would eventually lead to his being banned.

Thought for the Day

With a cloud still hanging over defending champion Alberto Contador ahead of his appeal hearing, the last thing the Tour needs is another doping scandal. But the 2008 stage provides a pointer to how today may well pan out, with an attacking rider from a select group including the GC favourites taking the win, perhaps one without aspirations to a podium place.

GT’s tips

A breakaway could fancy their chances on a day like today so there will be a lot of racing right from the start. It's one of those days when it could take a good hour or two for one to get away but once it does, it could stick to the end. It does depend who's in the yellow jersey, but I can't see the main GC guys being too worried.

To find out more about Geraint Thomas visit www.geraintthomas.com and don't forget to enter this week's Schwag Grab to win the chance to spend two days riding with Geraint in Belgium next month.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.