BELLEGARDE-SUR-VALSERINE, France (VN) — After the first rest day and with the Alpine Mountains on the horizon, Vincenzo Nibali and Jurgen Van den Broeck are plotting how they can reach their Tour de France goals.
Opportunities exist. The stage through the Jura today to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine covers the Col du Grand Colombier and Col de Richemond before a 20.5km downhill run. A summit finish to La Toussuire follows tomorrow. The mid-mountain stage on Friday to Annonay-Davézieux ends the Alpine run.
“They are important stages, you have to base it off of what the others are doing and how Sky is riding,” Nibali explained. “On the day before the time trial [to Porrentruy], Sky seemed to suffer a little, having only two men in the final.”
Liquigas-Cannondale’s Italian captain started the Tour with aspirations for the podium, and possibly the top step. He is keeping that goal in mind, but it will be harder after a 2:07 loss to race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) in the Besançon time trial.
Nibali said he was pleased with his time trial, though. He finished 24 seconds slower than defending race champion, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and one second ahead of Denis Menchov (Katusha).
“There are a lot of mountains left. I think [the time trial] went well for me and I have my chances ahead,” he added.
“I’ve done [started long attacks] many times, more in one-day races than in stage races. In stage races, you always have to think about the next day. I’ll try to invent something in the coming mountains.”
Nibali sits in fourth overall, at 2:23 back. Evans is only 30 seconds ahead in second place and Sky’s Chris Froome is 16 seconds ahead in third.
Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) lost 1:52 in the first mountaintop finish to La Planche des Belles Filles. He slipped back another 3:09 in the time trial.
“I did my best,” Van den Broeck said of the time trial. “I realize that I don’t have to do it in the time trials, but that I have to do it in the mountains. I will not change my tactics. I was calculating that I’d lose time in the time trials. I can re-gain time in the mountains.”
Sports director, Herman Frison told VeloNews that fourth or fifth overall is possible for Van den Broeck. He currently sits in ninth place, at 5:20. Menchov in fifth, Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack-Nissan) in sixth and Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan) in seventh are between him and Nibali.
Van den Broeck already showed his desire to try to break his immediate rivals on Sunday’s stage to Porrentruy. He attacked off the final descent and briefly escaped with Evans.
“We noticed that if we have the balls to attack like we did on Sunday then you see that there’s some hesitation by Sky,” Van den Broeck continued. “So, if we have the balls to do it, we have to do it, not just think about it. We have to put pressure on the team, that’s the only tactic.”