Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tour de France 2013 ! Corsica to Saint Malo , (st 10 )

As a reader of , over the years , i have found their " Le Tour Preview " worth  reading :

Here it is in FULL !

  "  Tour de France 2013 Preview

Our stage by-stage guide to the 100th edition of cycling's biggest race
Simon_MacMichael, June 19, 2013
Tour de France 100 logo
A first visit to Corsica, a time trial with Mont-Saint-Michel as the backdrop, a summit finish on Mont Ventoux, an unprecedented double ascent of the Alpe d’Huez, and in another first, a grand finale at night on the Champs-Elysées – organisers ASO have done all they can to ensure the 100th edition of the Tour de France will be a memorable one. Here’s our stage-by-stage preview.
It’s a spectacular parcours, and a route that reinforces not only the history of France, but also that of what has become the world’s biggest annual sporting event, one that many believe is also the toughest.
Some may point out perhaps with justification that the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta a España feature harder climbs, and a lot more of them, and are a truer reflection of a GC rider’s ability to deal with everything that’s thrown at them and survive, but we think that misses a couple of essential points.
To anyone outside Italy or Spain, and particularly those with little knowledge of cycling, the Tour is THE race – winning it is one of the reasons Bradley Wiggins was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December, because it’s an event that transcends the sport in a way other races don’t.
The maillot jaune is one of the most iconic prizes in world sport, and the men who wear it become legends beyond cycling – depending on when you took up road cycling, you’ll have had the old ‘Who do you think you are? Eddy Merckx/Lance Armstrong/Bradley Wiggins?’ at some point.
Read the autobiography of any cyclist who has ridden the Tour, and specifically the chapter that deals with their first participation in the race – there will almost certainly be one – and the common thread is their being overwhelmed by the race being bigger in every regard than any other on the planet; it’s faster, there’s more pressure, more media attention, and it lives inside its own bubble.
This year’s route features a tougher than usual opening few days on Corsica, plus what looks like being a very hard final week in the Alps. We’ll be casting our eye over the contenders in the fortnight ahead, but as things stand, Chris Froome, runner-up to his team mate Wiggins last year, starts as a strong favourite.
His performances to date in 2013 justify that, but as you’ll see below, there are several stages where it looks as though it could be hard to control the race, and the Tour is if nothing else unpredictable; 12 months ago, Froome himself lost 90 seconds to a puncture on Stage 2, while the previous year, a crash on what should have been a routine stage sent Wiggins home with a broken collarbone.
That year, 2011, saw three different men – Thomas Voeckler, Andy Schleck and eventual winner, Cadel Evans – start the last three stages in the maillot jaune, underlining its unpredictable nature. Likewise, the final days of this year’s race mean that things could go to the wire.
What we can say with certainty is that the 100th edition of the race will provide plenty of excitement, drama, controversy and talking points over the course of the three weeks, and we imagine that like us, you can’t wait for it to start.
Even better, once it’s all over, we’ll have a 2014 Grand Départ in Yorkshire to look forward to.
Stage 1
Porto-Vecchio – Bastia (212km)
Saturday 29 June
It’s taken 100 editions, but the Tour de France finally fully lives up to its name by making its first visit to the one region of la France métropole that it has never been to, the island of Corsica. It’s a road stage, not a Prologue, that gets the 100th Tour de France under way, and expectations are it’s one for the sprinters.
You can be sure that Mark Cavendish has been looking forward to today’s stage ever since the route was announced; a win today would see him join Bradley Wiggins and David Millar as just the third British rider to have worn the leader’s jersey at all three Grand Tours.
Local knowledge: Corsica’s preparations to welcome the Tour for the first time – made possible due to the threat of action from separatist factions receding – have been several years in the making, with its staging of the Critérium International since 2010 in effect being a rehearsal for today’s Grand Départ.
Stage 2
Bastia – Ajaccio (154km)
Sunday 30 June
This is the first of a pair of unusually tough stages to feature this early in the Tour. Starting on the coast at Bastia, the route heads across Corsica’s mountainous interior, the biggest of the day’s climbs, the Col de Vizzavona, topping out at 1,163 metres above sea level.
After a long descent, there’s the tough ramp of the Côte du Salario to tackle a dozen kilometres from the finish in Ajaccio. The sprinters will be gone, and it’s not an afternoon when anyone with GC hopes wants to have an off day, or a crash or mechanical – if they do, some real damage could be done, even this early.
Local knowledge: This year’s race is as much as anything else a celebration of France’s history, and the finish town today is the birthplace of the man under whom the country lived some of its greatest – and darkest – moments, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Stage 3
Ajaccio – Calvi (145km)
Monday 1 July
The third and final day on Corsica, this time along the rugged terrain of the west coast of the island with four more categorised climbs to deal with – the first comes straight from the start, and there are another two in close succession either side of the halfway point of a twisting and undulating parcours.
The final climb, the Col du Marsolino, is again near the end of the stage, but is longer and has a steeper average gradient than yesterday’s. The terrain, and the prospect of wind off the coast, means the peloton may have been blown apart well before then –woe betide any overall contenders on the wrong side of a split.
Local knowledge: There’s no doubt Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, but there’s debate over whether Calvi can claim Christopher Columbus as its most famous son. Widely believed to have been born in Genoa, some say he was born in Calvi – the Italian maritime republic ruled Corsica at the time of the explorer’s birth.

BACK to the Mainland !

 Stage 4
Nice – Nice (TTT, 25km)
Tuesday 2 July
We’re back on the mainland, and appropriately for the glamorous Côte d’Azur, the riders will have jetted in from Corsica the previous evening. There’s no shortage of hills around Nice, but today’s 15km course is about as flat as is possible in this area, including long sections along the Promenade des Anglais.
The time is taken when the fifth rider crosses the line, so a balance needs to be struck between going as fast as the stronger riders can, and ensuring the weaker ones aren’t shed too soon; Omega Pharma-Quick Step are world champions against the clock, but the likes of Sky, BMC and Garmin-Sharp will put up a fight.
Local knowledge: Sky’s Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas, among others, will be on very familiar ground today – all are residents of nearby Monaco, the principality being served by Nice airport, which the teams will pass twice during the stage.
Stage 5
Cagnes-sur-Mer – Marseille (228.5km)
Wednesday 3 July
A tough day to predict, with a couple of climbs thrown in late on making it reminiscent of one of those Giro d’Italia stages where it’s 50-50 whether a break will stay away or get caught ahead of the finish. Adding to the uncertainty is the descent from that final climb, although the final 4km sees a flat run-in.
It’s another stage with an undulating profile, with the first of four categorised climbs coming early on – it may take a while for the escapees to get away, but over that summit we should know who’s going to spend the next 200km or so at the front of the race.
Local knowledge: Cagnes-sur-Mer is home to what is now possibly the most (in)famous bike shop in France, and there are plenty of pictures around of current and ex-pros with the owner; we don’t see too many photo opps today, however, given he happens to be the Motoman of US Postal scandal notoriety.
Stage 6
Aix-en-Provence – Montpellier (176km)
Thursday 4 July
Unlike yesterday, today is pretty much a nailed-on bunch sprint. What’s more, with the day’s intermediate sprint coming at 63km, just before the one categorised climb, there may be an incentive for teams with green jersey aspirations to keep the tempo high early on and hunt for points.
One potential complication today is the wind, however; the latter part of the stage is in the same part of the world where HTC-Highroad blew the race apart during the 2009 Tour on a stage won by Mark Cavendish. If echelons do form, some GC contenders may find themselves fighting to get back on.
Local knowledge: Last month, Montpellier was the site of France’s first same-sex marriage made possible through the controversial law pushed through by President François Hollande; protesters have said they’ll use the international profile of the Tour to get their point across.
Stage 7
Montpellier – Albi (205km)
Friday 5 July
The outcome of today’s stage may well depend on how well the sprinters cope with that pair of Category 2 climbs ahead of the halfway point; if the pace being set by the stronger climbers is high, some may find themselves out of contention even before the halfway point.
That could play into the hands of riders such as defending points champion Peter Sagan; the day’s final climb, the Category 4 Côte de Teillet, comes with more than 30km left to ride, and if the Cannondale rider has shaken off the likes of André Greipel and Mark Cavendish, few would bet against him.
Local knowledge: While Albi gave its name to the Albigensian Crusade – the fortified cathedral you’ll see in the TV shots at the end of the stage a statement of French political intent – many of the key events in that 13th Century campaign by the Catholic church to stamp out the Cathar heresy took place further south.
Stage 8
Castres – Ax 3 Domaines (194km)
Saturday 6 July
The second Saturday of the 100th Tour de France sees the first high mountain stage, and it’s also the first summit finish of this year’s race, with the final climb, the Category 1 ascent to Ax 3 Domaines preceded by the Hors-Categorie ascent of the Col de Pailhères.
The profile of some of the preceding stages suggests there could already be some big time gaps between those vying for the overall, which could help shape how today’s stage pans out – if one of the podium favourites has lost time on GC already, this could be the day to start attempting to get it back.
Local knowledge: Among the routes the Tour takes into or out of the Pyrenees; this may be the most scenic, heading through the Gorges de l’Aude south of Quillan; some riders will return to that town a fortnight after the race finishes – it’s home to France’s oldest post-Tour criterium, in its 69th edition this year.
Stage 9
Saint-Girons – Bagnères-de-Bigorre (163km)
Sunday 7 July
Potentially a big day in the High Pyrenees, with a saw-toothed profile that feature five big climbs – four of them Category 1, including the Col de Peyresourde – ahead of a 30km downhill run to the line in Bagnères de Bigorre, ten times a stage town.
It’s likely to be an attritional day, and one that will see an ever-decreasing field as the race heads over those successive summits, and it’s one that gives Chris Froome’s GC rivals plenty of opportunities to attack and try and upset Sky’s tactic of attempting to control the race from the front.
Local knowledge: Ten times a stage town, the most memorable finish at Bagnères de Bigorre perhaps came in 1963 when Jacques Anquetil, defending champion and already a three-time winner, prevailed in the sprint on his way to winning the fourth of his fifth maillots jaunes.
Monday 8 July – rest day
Stage 10
Saint-Gildas-des-Bois – Saint-Malo (193km)

Tuesday 9 July
With the race resuming after yesterday’s rest day in Saint-Nazaire, it’s a straight run north pretty much along the line where the Breton peninsula joins the rest of France; but there’s a potential sting in the tail as the route swings west along the coast to St Malo a little over 20km from the end.
After spending the weekend suffering in the Pyrenees, the sprinters will want to return to business, but there’s no certainty it will come down to a bunch finish; there’s just the one Category 4 climb today, but an undulating parcours including towards the finish may give a puncheur a chance of a stage win.
Local knowledge: Today’s finish takes place in sight of the ramparts of the walled city of Saint-Malo, once home to corsairs who raided Channel shipping, and site of a largely unsuccessful British raid in 1758; no such worries over piracy, we hope, for any fans who’ll cross on the ferry for today’s stage.

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