The 2011 Tour De France begins on Saturday morning with the start of a tough two-day stretch through medium mountains before a rest day on Monday. Stage 8 on Saturday takes the cyclists from Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy, a 189 km (117 mi) course. The riders will be in the heart of France before entering tougher mountains on Sunday.
The course start with a few dips and hills, but quickly turns into an uphill battle at 65.5 km with a Category 4 climb at Côte d'Évaux-les-Bains. There will be a breather for the sprinters shortly after that, but everyone will be back to the climb at Côte du Rocher des Trois Tourtes, a second Category 4. It only gets tougher at Col de la Croix Saint-Robert, a Category 2 climb, rising 1,451 meters. One final climb, Category 3, awaits the riders at Super-Besse Sancy.
This race of late has been hurt by a number of crashes and riders who have left the race, either through crashes or previous injuries piling up. Endurance riders will emerge today, but Thor Hushovd still has as good of a chance to wear the yellow jersey as anyone else. He has finished in the Top 10 of each segment so far and won't want to give that up any time soon.
Check out VERSUS at 6 a.m. MT for live coverage of this exciting stage.