Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Stage breakdown of 2011 Tour de France
A quick stage-by-stage breakdown of the 2011 Tour de France route, which was unveiled Tuesday in Paris:
Stage 1, Passage du Gois to Mont des Alouettes, 111.8 miles: The peloton will parade in neutral mode over the slippery surface of the Passage, which is covered by tides most of the day. A short incline at the finish will favor classics-style sprinters.
Stage 2, Les Essarts (team time trial), 14.3 miles: Overall contenders with weak TT support will lose time, but the short distance should keep the gaps manageable and the race won't be lost here as it has been in previous years.
Stage 3, Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon, 123 miles: First true sprint finish.
Stage 4, Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne, 106.8 miles: Another flat stage featuring a hill at the end for the classics specialists.
Stage 5, Carhaix to Cap Fréhel, 98.1 miles: Could be the most dangerous day of the Tour if coastal winds kick up.
Stage 6, Dinan-Lisieux, 140.4 miles: Transitional stage is the longest of the race and should finish in a sprint, although there's a tricky little climb near the end.
Stage 7, Le Mans to Chateauroux, 133.5 miles: Dead-flat course for the speedsters.
Stage 8, Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy, 118 miles: The peloton heads into the Massif Central, where racing tends to be unpredictable. In 2008, the overall contenders marked each other on the uphill finish and the yellow jersey changed hands.
Stage 9, Issoire to Saint Flour, 129.2 miles: Undulating course looks made for a breakaway win.
Rest day, Le Lioran.
Stage 10, Aurillac to Carmaux, 100 miles: Rolling roads with a probable run-in for the sprinters.
Stage 11, Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur, 104.3 miles: Looks like a repeat of the previous day.
Stage 12, Cugnaux to Luz Ardiden, 129.8 miles: Tour organizers clearly decided they wanted the Pyrenees to count this year, unlike 2009 when the climbs were too far from the finish to make a difference. Luz Ardiden, where Lance Armstrong famously crashed after tangling with a young spectator's bag, will be the last of three ascents and follows the Tourmalet.
Stage 13, Pau to Lourdes, 96.9 miles: The Col d'Aubisque will fracture the peloton late in the stage and the overall leader will have to keep it together on the long descent to Lourdes.
Stage 14, Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille, 104.3 miles: A day of relentless climbing culminating with the long grind up this renowned pass. Every previous stage winner here (Marco Pantani in 1998, Armstrong in 2002 and 2004, and Alberto Contador in 2007) has eventually won the Tour.
Stage 15, Limoux to Montpellier, 116.1 miles: The sprinters who made it this far will be rewarded by a flat finish in the midsummer heat of southern France.
Rest day, Drome region.
Stage 16, Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap, 101.2 miles: Moderate climbing, ending with the descent into Gap. Should be won by a breakaway as the overall contenders take a breather.
Stage 17, Gap to Pinerolo (Italy), 111.2 miles: The sinuous climbs of Montgenevre and Sestrieres on the French-Italian border could make things interesting mid-stage, but the lead pack will come back together toward the end. Won't shake things up.
Stage 18, Pinerolo to Galibier Serre-Chevalier, 117.4 miles: The grand Galibier, first conquered by the Tour peloton 100 years ago, has frequently figured into the route -- 31 times since 1947. But this is the first time a stage will end on the 8,600-foot summit for its highest-altitude finish ever.
Stage 19, Modane to Alpe d'Huez, 67.7 miles: Haven't had enough of the Galibier? Riders get to climb it from the other direction before attacking the 21 switchbacks of the Alpe on a short but painful day. As usual, it will pay to attack early on the finishing climb.
Stage 20, Grenoble, 25.5 miles (individual time trial): With such a mountain-heavy course, the podium could be sorted out by the time this test arrives. Then again, look what happened last year. The exact course hasn't been announced, but will include two climbs.
Stage 21, Creteil to Paris, 99.4 miles: The final sprint is not only prestigious but pivotal if the green jersey is still in contention -- which remains to be seen given the sweeping changes in the points system this year.