Rested after a day off, the Tour de France riders get back to serious climbing in the 209km ninth stage to St Jean de Maurienne on Tuesday.
With four classic Tour climbs, the Col des Saisies, Les Aravis, La Colombiere and the unrated, 25km-long Col de la Madeleine, climbers will have ample chance to express themselves.
The final section of La Madeleine is steep and demanding and the 20km descent to the finish could help chasers to rein in breakaways.
While Lance Armstrong’s chances of a recovery look bleak after he lost nearly 12 minutes on the way to Morzine, other Tour contenders will look for a chance to make up for lost time and to reposition themselves.
However, riders do not all react in the same way to a rest day and the injuries sustained in the previous stage may hurt even more.
“You usually suffer more from an injury two days later,” said John Lelangue, director of overall leader Cadel Evans’s BMC team.
Evans was involved in the same crash as Armstrong in Sunday’s stage and will beware of his closest rivals Andy Schleck, the Morzine winner, and defending champion Alberto Contador, who will be on their favourite terrain.
On the same course, though going in the opposite direction, American Floyd Landis effectively won the 2006 Tour de France in suspiciously brilliant fashion before it was found that he had been guilty of doping on the day. — Reuters