The 2011 Tour de France wraps up the first half of major climbing on Saturday as the peloton makes their way to the eastern edge of the Pyrenees Mountains. The 168 1/2 kilometer stage takes the cyclists from Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille. This stage will be followed by a flat stage, a rest day, and then the mighty Alps.
The cyclists will need the rest day as Stage Fourteen features six categorized climbs over a relatively short stretch of course, which means there will be very little flat terrain. Saturday will include one category 3, two category 2s, two category 1s, and a category H for good measure. The sixth climb takes the riders to a summit finish at 1,780 meters. It's interesting to note that the previous four Tour stages that ended in Plteau de Beille saw the winner of the stage go on to wear the yellow jersey in Paris.
For Bay Area cycling fans, the best hope is for Cadel Evans of Santa Rosa-based BMC racing to secure a victory. He stands in third place, 2:06 back of first place Thomas Voeckler. Of course, Frank Schleck is the man standing between him and Voeckler so it will certainly require some serious effort to make a run at the yellow jersey. Stage 14 may not prove decisive, but the results will be worth noting in a week's time.
Stage fourteen begins at 5:00am pacific on VERSUS. NBCSports.com will continue to provide a live online stream via subscription service.
We'll be here for the entire race providing news updates and stage previews and recaps, particularly as they relate to Bay Area cyclist Levi Leipheimer. For more in-depth discussion on the 2011 Tour De France, head over to Podium Cafe. For more general Tour coverage, head over to the SB Nation story stream.