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2011 Tour De France, Stage Eight Preview: Medium Mountains Mean Unpredictability

Editor's Note: Stage Eight Results HERE

The 2011 Tour De France makes its way into the Massif Centrale in the heart of France. Stage eight will take the cyclists from Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy in the heart of France. While the bumpy ride does not compare to the Alps stages, climbers will have a bit of an edge. The stage starts at approximately 382 meters above sea level and climbs as high as 1,451 meters before ending at 1,275 meters. The run through Massif Centrale could create some measure of unpredictability for the peloton.

If anybody needs some unpredictability it would probably be Santa Rosa-based Levi Leipheimer. While Leipheimer entered the race in probably the second tier of contenders, he has faced calamity after calamity. He hung close in the first few stages but the last two stages have seen him lose precious time by either crashing or getting stuck behind a crash. He now finds himself 4:29 back of leader Thor Hushovd.

Some experts expect Hushovd to lose the yellow jersey to Cadel Evans on Saturday. The question for Leipheimer will be if he has his legs back under him to make a modest push in these first mountains. He normally has the legs to make a push but he needs to show he has recovered mentally from two setbacks.

The stage starts at 5:00am pacific on VERSUS and is available on a subscription live online stream at

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.