It may all come down to this: 53.5km against the clock, the day before the race hits Paris.
It’s simple. If Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) or Denis Menchov (Katusha) are on-the-level at the start of the nearly pancake-flat individual time trial, they will be the riders competing for the final podium. If the climbers like Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) or Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have put three-plus minutes into them, the final overall will come down to mere seconds in Chartres.
“I won’t say it won’t be won or lost in the mountains, but it certainly could be won or lost in the time trials,” BEvans explained ahead of the time trial on stage 4 of the Critérium du Dauphiné, which was nearly identical, save for a hair more climbing. “For the Tour, it depends on how the contenders are in the mountains to understand if the time trials will count for nearly everything or not quite everything.”