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2011 Tour de France, Stage 16 Preview: Peloton Hits Medium Mountains Before Alps

The 2011 Tour de France returns after its final rest day with the beginning of its final jaunt through the mountains. While Wednesday through Friday features climbing through the Alps, the peloton will make its way east with some medium mountain cycling on Tuesday. The riders will travel 162 1/2 kilometers from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Gap in a transition stage to get them ready for the final serious climbs of the Tour.

The stage is a steady climb with some slight ups and downs around the 85 kilometer mark. At the 139 kilometer mark the riders will begin the toughest climb of the day to the summit of Col de Manse, which peaks at 1,268 meters. After reaching the top, the cyclists will roll downhill the final 11 kilometers to the finish line.

Cadel Evans of Santa Rosa-based BMC racing will look to hold steady in third place on what is a modest climb. He sits 2:06 back of the yellow jersey with Andy Schleck breathing down his neck nine seconds back. The Schleck brothers are sitting in second and fourth place and will be a force to reckon with in the Alps so Evans can't afford to lose time to either of them in the medium mountains.

Stage sixteen 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 and Bay Area-based BMC Racing. 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.