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Five essential stages of this year's Tour de France
If you can't cope with three weeks of the Tour de France, here are five must-see stages.
Don't miss them!
Saturday, June 30: prologue time trial, liege
The prologue time trial is one of the most exciting parts of the Tour. There's the sense of anticipation as the riders cross the line, chance to assess the form of the favourites and to admire the absurdly expensive machines they're riding. This short, flat opening time trial will be an opportunity for the general classification contenders to land an early psychlogical blow.
It’s not the most technical of courses, and it’s only 6.4km long – so it will be full gas all the way.
Favourites Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans should put in good times, but it’s likely to be won by a TT specialist like Tony Martin or a returning-to-form Fabian Cancellara.
If I was directeur sportif for one of the main contenders I’d be wanting them to avoid taking the yellow jersey so early in the race.
stage 9, Monday, July 9: individual time trial, arc-et-senans to besançon
The yellow jersey race begins properly here, with a flat 41.5km time trial.
Wiggins and Evans will be in their element on this course.
Given his form so far this season Wiggins can be expected to take the win (and possibly the yellow jersey) here.
But if he’s peaked too soon and Evans has come into form it could be a close-run thing.
stage 11, thursday, july 12: albertville to La Toussuire – Les Sybelles
At 'only' 148km, the second day in the Alps still presents a tough challenge to the riders.
With the Col de la Madeleine, the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Mollard to tackle, this stage is sure to shake up the riders in the top 10.
GC contenders who crack on these climbs could see their hopes of winning the Tour evaporate here.
Expect to see Team Sky to be working hard at the front to ensure Wiggins doesn’t lose time to his rivals.
stage 16, wednesday, july 18: pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon
This promises to be classic Tour stage. It's 197km long, taking in the legendary mountain passes of the Col d’Aubisque and Col du Tourmalet. So many famous battles of the Tour have taken place on these roads and this year promises to be no exception.
Anyone who wants to be in yellow in Paris is going to have to perform well today.
It's going to be a compelling battle!
stage 19, saturday, july 21: individual time trial, bonneval to chartres
Last year the tour was decided in the final time trial, when Cadel Evans demolished Andy Schleck to steal the race lead.
This year's final TT could be just as decisive.
The 53.5km is flat, but likely to be windswept - that'll give strong riders like Evans and Wiggins the edge over any climbers who might still be in contention.
This is guaranteed to dramatic, so watch it live if you can!
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