Weekend Preview РTour M̩diterran̩en

Fotoreporter Sirotti

The 2011 Tour Méditerranéen wraps-up this weekend with two stages along the sea that gives the race its name.  Saturday’s 155-kilometer trip from La Londe Les Maures to Biot presents two climbs early in the day, but they’re not enough to prevent Romain Feillu from taking his third stage and perhaps adding a few bonus seconds to his lead.  Other challengers for the victory include FDJ’s Yauheni Hutarovich, Sky’s Davide Appollonio, and Cofidis’ FDJ’s Remi Pauriol.

The real action comes Sunday with the race’s traditional queen stage ending atop Mont Faron.  The Med Tour has experimented with the placement of this stage in the past before settling on keeping the 5-kilometer, 10-12%-grade climb as the last five kilometers of the race.  Last year, Francesco Mascarelli won the stage while Alejandro Valverde took the overall (before being retroactively DQ’ed).

Rinaldo Nocentini took last year’s honors following Valverde’s DQ; he returns this year perfectly positioned to win the race outright. The Italian sits a mere 20-seconds behind Feillu, an easy gap to overcome on Faron’s steep, narrow slopes. Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler is another interesting overall candidate with a 13-second cushion over Nocentini thanks to his Stage 1 victory.

But while Nocentini and Voeckler are attractive options, my money’s on Garmin-Cervelo’s Daniel Martin.  The Irishman finished 2010 in the form of his life—he sits 20-seconds behind Feillu as well and is possibly the strongest climber in the race.  Look for him to claim his first race of 2011 on Sunday, continuing Garmin’s impressive start to the season.

Other men to watch include Cofidis’ Leonardo Duque, Garmin’s Michel Kreder, Vacansoleil’s Wouter Poels, Europcar’s Pierre Rolland, and FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot.

So who’s your pick for Sunday atop Mont Faron?  Share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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6 Responses to Weekend Preview РTour M̩diterran̩en

  1. michael says:

    I second the Dan Martin pick – he is lurking close by and is the most explosive pure climber in the field that high up the GC. Unless a break of some sort muddies the waters (unlikely) he is a good bet to win the drag race to the top. The only thing I see potentially precluding his taking it is the relatively short length of the climb. TBD!

  2. bikecellar says:

    As most of the field are within 20s it could turn into a real scramble, however something could happen today to change the GC. Are they racing without radio's, if yes then more chance of unplanned/unexpected result? But notwithstanding this i am going to pick Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ 0:00:17 purely on the basis that he is leading climber so far.

  3. Bikecellar says:

    Ah well Remi is now at 31s and 5s down on Martin.

  4. Pingback: Mont Faron

  5. ospina says:

    I wish there was live coverage of this event…my vote is on Soler, if he doesn't cause a crash

  6. bikecellar says:

    Chapeau to Mont faron also David Cummings

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