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July 7 update: Stage 8 returns to the Super Besse ski resort for the first hilly stage of this year's race. Unfortunately, looking back to the 2008 results, we see the effects dopers had on damaging the Tour de France and cycling as a whole. The 2008 Super Besse stage was won by Riccardo Riccò and going into the stage Stefan Schumacher was leading the race after winning the first time-trial. Both riders would later test positive for EPO -- Ricco a few stages later and Schumacher after his second time-trial win near the end of the race. In addition, Alejandro Valverde placed second on the stage before the lingering Puerto investigation caught up with him two years later.

If not for Riccò and Valverde back in 2008, Cadel Evans would have won the stage. This year he'll be one of the favorites. Regardless of whether he wins or not, he'll could be the new owner of the Yellow Jersey given that he's just one second back of Thor Hushovd. Hushovd has done well in the hilly finishes thus far, but this stage, by his own admission, will likely be his last day in Yellow.

This year's course is similar to 2008. It starts again in Aigurande and follows the same general hilly route to Super Besse to the southeast, but the most significant change is the removal of the descent to Saint Diery after the Cat 2 climb of Col de la Croix Saint-Robert which crests with 25 km to go. Instead, the stage will take a more direct route to Super Besse and the finishing climb is only 3.5 + 1.5 km long compared to 11 km back in 2008.

With the Yellow Jersey expected to change hands on this day, there is a strong possibility that we will have our first successful break of this year's race because Garmin-Cervelo will not be chasing. If the break does succeed then one of the break riders could be the new race leader. — Steve
 Last Km from Super Besse