July 13, 2006

Treacherous stage awaits Tour favorites

By Julien Pretot

LUCHON, France (Reuters) - Tour de France favorites will
have to be very cautious on Friday when a treacherous 12th
stage takes the peloton 211.5 kms from Luchon to Carcassonne.

On Bastille Day, the French will be eager to shine on home
roads and try to emulate David Moncoutie, who won on July 14 in
Dignes-les-Bains last year.

"I see something big happening before the rest day (on
Monday)," said France's Charly Mottet, who was twice fourth in
the Tour de France, in 1987 and 1991.

The greatest test is expected to be the heat and high
winds, a common feature in the region.

The peloton tackles the second-category Col des Ares after
27 kms, giving the opportunity of a breakaway all the way to
the finish.

New overall leader Floyd Landis holds an eight-second
advantage over France's Cyril Dessel.