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July 23 Stage 20: Grenoble time trial, 42.5km (26.4 miles)
The three demanding alpine stages should settle the destiny of the yellow jersey. If not, then this only individual time trial of the 2011 Tour should do the job. When this same hilly 42.5km circuit at Grenoble was raced in the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month, Germany’s Tony Martin won the stage in 55:28 (an average speed of 45.973 kph) by just 11 seconds from Britain’s Brad Wiggins. Another 1:09 back, in sixth place, came Cadel Evans, while climbers Jurgen Van den Broeck and Robert Gesink lost 2:29 and 2:38 respectively to Wiggins.
THE SCOOP: Though Martin or world TT champ Fabian Cancellara may win this stage, the true battle could happen behind the two specialists. The most recent closing TT at the Tour to come close to upsetting the podium was in 2007; before that TT, Contador led Evans by 1:50 and Leipheimer by 2:49. The Spaniard did hang on to win the Tour, but with only a 23-second margin on Evans and 31 seconds on Leipheimer.
OVERALL RATING: ****