Yellow jersey set to change hands in l`Alpe d`Huez
Modane-Valfrejus: Thomas Voeckler`s Tour de France yellow jersey comes under severe threat in Friday`s 109-kms 19th stage to l`Alpe d`Huez.
The Frenchman holds a slim 15-second lead over Luxembourg`s Andy Schleck in the compact but potentially decisive ride to one of the most famous mountain tops in cycling.
If Schleck, the 2009 and 2010 Tour runner-up maintains the form which helped him triumph at the top of the Galibier pass, the gap could disappear altogether.
"15 seconds is not a lot. It`s even less than the 22 seconds lead I had on Lance Armstrong when he took the yellow jersey off me jersey in 2004," said Voeckler.
The bunch will be curious to see whether three-times champion Alberto Contador can react after finishing off the pace and losing 3:50 to Andy Schleck in the Galibier stage.
"Alberto is never so good as when he`s under pressure. He has a lot of mental strength. There can be other surprises," said the Spaniard`s Saxo Bank team director Philippe Mauduit.
Another distinctive jersey will be at stake as the brevity of the stage could make it even harder for sprinters to finish inside the time cut.
In Thursday`s stage, 89 riders, including Briton Mark Cavendish, the green jersey holder, finished outside the time limit but were finally allowed back in the race.
The time cut for Friday`s stage is estimated at around 18 minutes.