sonofjive said:Yeah fair call, but I got caught out thinking pretty much the same thing in the first few stages of the giro.
Even though the tour contenders are on a much more level playing field in terms of form, as you say, stages like this can mean real time bonuses regardless. In the Giro, even if Vinokourov and Evans hadn't carried their form from La Fleche and Liege the right tactic would have been to attack and see what time they could gain on the dirt roads. In the tour sadly, I don't think any team will have the cojones.
The only team (IMHO) who could make the pave interesting is BMC. They don't have anything to lose - they (should) know that Evans won't be strong enough in the last week, but I think he will be stronger on the cobbles than the other contenders. AND they have Hincapie, Burghardt and Ballan: this is the stage where they can make a race of it.
In the end, I would pay serious money to see a flat stage make a GC selection in the tour, but I think I will be waiting a long time.
I think your spot on with this post sonofjive,and have my fingers crossed that this scenario will play out.........And evans gains time on Contador and Schlecks.