The Luxembourg cyclist Andy Schleck is gambling on being able to overthrow Tour de France leader and defending champion Alberto Contador on the Spaniard's favourite terrain when the race reaches the Col du Tourmalet tonight.
Tour organisers designed this year's route in the hope the race would be decided on the 18.6-km climb to the Tourmalet at an average gradient of 7.5 percent.
Their wish appears to have been fulfilled as Luxembourg's Schleck, runner-up to Contador last year, is trailing the Astana rider by only eight seconds.
Contador, who earlier this year said the Tourmalet was his favourite climb, took the leader's yellow jersey off Schleck on Tuesday when the Saxo Bank rider suffered a problem with his bike chain on the final ascent of the 15th stage.
Schleck is considered a match for Contador in the mountains but a weaker time trialist. As a result, there have been countless calculations and discussions in the peloton about the gap Schleck would need over his rival ahead of Saturday's final 52-km time trial to stand a chance of overall victory.
The pair have mentioned 90 seconds as the probable difference between them in the last timed effort, although Schleck cut his estimate to one minute today.