Cycling: Glossary of 2007 Tour de France stages

29th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 29, 2007 (AFP) - Glossary of the prologue and 20 stages of the 2007 Tour de France, the race's 94th edition to be held over 3570 km July 7-29:

PARIS, June 29, 2007 (AFP) - Glossary of the prologue and 20 stages of the 2007 Tour de France, the race's 94th edition to be held over 3570 km July 7-29:

Prologue in London, 7.9 km (individual time trial)

An Anglo-Scottish duel is on the cards, with England's track world pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins out to stop Scotland's David Millar from claiming prologue victory and the yellow jersey for a second time. However last year 10 riders were only 10secs behind Norwegian winner Thor Hushovd - and none of them were specialists in the short race against the clock.

Stage 1 - London to Canterbury, England, 203 km

Leaving the English capital for the lush countryside of Kent, a mainly flat day of racing is likely to see breakaway attempts which will inevitably be caught before the traditional first-stage hectic bunch sprint for the line. Look for Robbie McEwen, Tom Boonen, Hushovd and plenty of others to be near the front.

Stage 2 - Dunkirk to Ghent (Belgium) 168.5 km

The second stage begins at 10 metres above sea level, and ends just one metre higher. On paper it's another day for the sprinters, but likely crosswinds on the way into cycling-mad Belgium could lead to some tactical racing where the peloton will be stretched out by the 'rouleurs', the men who can consistently hit speeds of over 60 km/h over long distances.

Stage 3 - Waregem (Belgium) to Compiegne 236.5 km

The race to Compiegne, the traditional start town of the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, is the longest of the race and slightly undulating. Despite three intermediate sprints tempting the green jersey aspirants, early breakaways are a near certainty. But with a long, inviting home straight the sprinters' teams are likely to bring the escapees to heel in the latter stages.

Stage 4 - Villers-Cotterets to Joigny, 193 km

Four category-four climbs feature as the race leaves Champagne country and meanders down towards the Yonne river. Two of the stage's three intermediate sprints are either side of the last two climbs, giving the green jersey men some food for thought. Again, breakaways will be likely but whether they manage to go all the way will be up to the peloton.

Stage 5 - Chablis to Autun, 182.5 km

A deliberate attempt to incite a mini riot in the peloton after four days of sprinting, stage five is undulating, sinewy and has 'breakaway' written all over it. With eight small climbs in total, the sprinters' green jersey ambitions could be put on hold for the day. A category two climb around 60km from the finish, and a category three less than 10km from the line, could be tactically decisive for a small group of ambitious riders.

Stage 6 - Semur-en-Auxois to Bourg-en-Bresse, 199.5 km

A day before the first foray into the Alps, the yellow jersey contenders may call a truce to allow the sprinters, or the less well-known riders hoping to show their team jersey, their time in the limelight. Three intermediate sprints and two category four climbs feature.

Stage 7 - Bourg-en-Bresse to Le Grand-Bornand, 197.5 km

There are only three days of climbing in the Alps, and those with yellow jersey aims could be tempted to play a waiting game before showing their full hand in the Pyrenees. Breakaways on the category three (two) and four climbs prior to the first real Col of the Tour - la Colombiere - are likely, however. The race ends after a descent to Le Grand Bornand.

Stage 8 - Le Grand-Bornand to Tignes, 165km

Thoughts of the Tour's first rest day are likely to spark ideas in the peloton, but after a winding warm-up on the lower category climbs things kick into life after 70 km, where the 16km climb over the Cormet de Roseland summit precedes another two climbs before the race's first summit finish at Tignes.

Stage 9 - Val d'Isere to Briancon, 159.5 km

Yellow jersey pretenders stand aside, or be ready. The first unclassified (hors categorie) climb will stun the peloton into action practically from the start line at 1850 metres altitude. A climb over the Col d'Iseran nearly one kilometre higher precedes a long descent towards the foot of the Col du Telegraphe, a category one and 12km long. From there, it's a 17.5 km ascent to the Col du Galibier summit, then a long, winding descent into Briancon.

Stage 10 - Tallard to Marseille, 229.5 km

A welcome respite from climbing awaits as the race's halfway stage beckons on the way to the Mediterranean. But as the yellow jersey takes a back seat, the sprinters will be on the lookout for potential breakaways on what is a slightly undulating but very long stage.

Stage 11 - Marseille to Montpellier, 182.5 km

A relatively easy category four climb is the only 'difficulty' here, so the sprinters, with two intermediate sprints, will be looking to take over the race. But with the Pyrenees not far off, and the coastal winds likely to determine race tactics, breakaways are a certainty.

Stage 12 - Montpellier to Castres, 178.5 km

A foray inland towards one of southern France's rugby strongholds is punctuated by a series of small climbs, which are followed by two intermediate sprints. A day ahead of the first time trial, teams with yellow jersey ambitions will be on the lookout for potentially dangerous breakaways, especially before the category two climb at Jeante, 60km from the finish.

Stage 13 - Albi to Albi, 54km (individual time trial)

The first of two races against the clock begins with a steady climb over some undulating terrain, but technique will play a minor role in what will effectively be an exercise in sheer power. World champion Fabian Cancellara, Australian Michael Rogers and American David Zabriskie will likely stand in the way of the more serious challengers for the yellow jersey.

Stage 14 - Mazamet to Plateau de Beille, 197 km

Frayed nerves will have to be steadied as the serious climbing looms on the horizon. The first of three days in the Pyrenees - the third coming after the second rest day - the climb to Plateau de Beille will be a battleground. After an early 9km climb, the peloton steadily heads towards the 17km ascent which takes them over the 'unclassified' Port de Pailheres. A tricky descent precedes the 15.9 km climb to the race's second summit finish at Beille.

Stage 15 - Foix to Loudenvielle-Le Louron, 196 km

The upcoming rest day will be like a far-off oasis for some during another monumental day of racing in the spectacular Pyrenees. Five climbs feature in total, with the three most difficult in the stage's latter half. But it is the 19.2km climb to the summit of the Port de Bales which will entice the attacks. The peloton will finish in Loudenvielle after ascending and descending the Col de Peyresourde.

Stage 16 - Orthez to Aubisque, 218.5 km

Following a rest day with another epic day in the mountains is a deliberate ploy by new Tour chief Christian Prudhomme to keep the suspense going for as long as possible in the high mountains. The probematic Col d'Aubisque will feature for only the second time in the race's history. It's tight 16.7 km comes after 37.5 km of climbing on the stage.

Stage 17 - Pau to Castelsarrasin, 188.5 km

The yellow jersey contenders will take a well-deserved rest on what should be a day of redemption for those yet to win a stage, or show the team jersey sufficiently long enough to keep the sponsors happy. A total of six categorised climbs feature, though they will be like a walk in the park compared to the previous day's monsters, and are likely to tempt a small breakaway group.

Stage 18 - Cahors to Angouleme, 211 km

Another undulating stage, which should tempt more than one breakaway. The yellow jersey riders will be keen to reserve much-needed energy for a possibly decisive time trial on stage 19, however their teams will to keep a keen eye out for threats to their position in the teams' competition.

Stage 19 - Cognac to Angouleme, 55.5 km (individual time trial)

Another one for the time trial specialists, however the race's last big test features lots of long, uncomplicated straight sections where speed can be built to a maximum. If the general classification is tight, expect to see some extraordinary performances from the yellow jersey contenders and those fighting for a podium finish.

Stage 20 - Marcoussis to Paris Champs-Elysees, 146 km

The race all but over, the final stage to Paris from the headquarters of France's national rugby set-up - host of this year's World Cup - will be punctuated by the usual joviality and passing of Champagne to the winner. All that will be replaced by some more serious racing, however, once the peloton arrive in the capital where the frantic criterium-like race around the Champs Elysees is likely to precede a mass sprint for the line.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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