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July 5, 2013
Now things get serious at Tour de France

ALBI, France (AP) -- When they sit down late on Saturday afternoon for the ritual they call the "apero" -- meaning nibbles and alcoholic drinks -- the French still won't know who is going to win their beloved Tour de France this year.

They, however, might have a much clearer idea of who won't win it.

Riders who don't have the legs to carry them to victory in Paris, who have been bluffing and pretending to be strong in the first third of the 2,115-mile Tour, could be cruelly exposed on Saturday when the race sharply gains altitude in the Pyrenees mountains where France and Spain meet.

Although the two climbs on the menu aren't the most brutal of this 100th Tour, they're still tough enough to make all but the strongest riders struggle. Just how decisive the ascents prove will depend on how aggressive, ambitious and confident the strongest climbers are feeling. If they want to test overall race favorites Chris Froome and Alberto Contador, or if those two want to test each other, then Stage 8 offers the first real opportunity for them to do so.

(29 images)




The pack passes by during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race. AP / Christophe Ena
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia, left, crosses the finish line ahead of second place John Degenkolb of Germany, center in white, and third place Daniele Benatti of Italy, far right, to win the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 205.5 kilometers (128.5 miles) with start in Montpellier and finish in Albi, southern France, Friday July 5, 2013. To the right of Degenkolb is Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Daryl Impey of South Africa, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Peter Sagan of Slovakia, wearing the best sprinter's green jersey, right, ride in the pack during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Friday July 5, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Spectators, one wearing a mask, wait for the pack to pass during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Friday July 5, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Daryl Impey of South Africa, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, rides in the pack during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race with a start in Montpellier and finish in Albi, southern France, Friday July 5, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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Daryl Impey of South Africa, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, Christopher Froome of Britain, center with number 1, and Cadel Evans of Australia, center in red with number 31, climb Croix de Mounis pass with the pack during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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Simon Geschke of Germany, left, collects water bottles from his team car during the seventh stage of the Tour de France cycling race. AP / Christophe Ena
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Spectators cheer as the pack passes during the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race. AP / Christophe Ena
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A teammate, rear, starts celebrating as Andre Greipel of Germany, left in white, sprints toward the finish line ahead Peter Sagan of Slovakia, center left in green, to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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Simon Gerrans of Australia, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, waits for the start of the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Aix-en-Provence France, Thursday July 4, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Jerome Coppel of France, left in red jersey, crashes during the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race. AP / Jerome Prevost
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Britain's Marc Cavendish, left, crosses the finish line ahead of Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, center and second place, and fifth place Roberto Ferrari of Italy, right in pink jersey, to win the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday July 3, 2013. AP / Peter Dejong
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Nuns of the Monastere de la Consolation in Draguignan cheer as Simon Gerrans of Australia, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, passes during the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Wednesday July 3, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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Spectators sit under olive trees as the pack, with Simon Gerrans of Australia wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, center, passes during the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Wednesday July 3, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Team Sky Procycling with Peter Kennaugh of Britain, right, Richie Porte of Australia, second position, Vasili Kiryienka of Belarus, third position, and Christopher Froome of Britain, fourth position, lead the pack during the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Wednesday July 3, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Stage winner team Orica Greenedge with Simon Gerrans of Australia wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the podium of the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Tuesday July 2, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Team Orica Greenedge with new overall leader Simon Gerrans of Australia in fifth position with mouth open, passes under a bridge during the fourth stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Tuesday July 2, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack speeds downhill passing the Red Rocks near Piana during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Monday July 1, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack with Jan Bakelants of Belgium, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, and Spain's Alberto Contador, standing in blue and yellow, passes rock formations near Piana during the third stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Monday July 1, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Jan Bakelants of Belgium crosses the finish line ahead of the sprinting pack to win the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Sunday June 30, 2013. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Spain's Alberto Contador, center in blue and yellow, speeds down Vizzavona pass during the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Sunday June 30, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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The pack climbs during the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Sunday June 30, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack exits a tunnel near Corte during the second stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Sunday June 30, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Marcel Kittel of Germany celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Saturday June 29, 2013. AP / Laurent Rebours
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Murilo Antoniobil Fischer of Brazil, center left, Tony Martin of Germany, center right, and Tony Gallopin of France, right, wait for medical assistance after crashing in the last kilometers of the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race on Saturday June 29, 2013. AP / Joel Saget
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The pack rides along the coast line of the Mediterranean Sea during the first stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race over 213 kilometers (133 miles) with start in Porto Vecchio and finish in Bastia, Corsica island, France, Saturday June 29, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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Spectators on home trainers cheer as the pack passes in Ghisonaccia during the first stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on Saturday June 29, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani
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The pack passes a flag featuring a Moor's head, the Corsican emblem, during the first stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on Saturday June 29, 2013. AP / Christophe Ena
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The Patrouille de France aerobatic team performs at the start of the first stage of the 100th edition of the Tour de France cycling race on Saturday June 29, 2013. AP / Laurent Cipriani

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