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Lotto Belisol: Preview Tour: The route, part 1
lotto650big Only five days are left before the start of the 100th Tour de France. Le Grand Départ takes place on Corsica, it’s for the first time in the 110-year history the Tour visits this island. Three days long the biggest cycling event of the year will be held there. In this first preview of three on the route of the Tour, we look at these three stages on Corsica and the others of the first week.

The Tour doesn’t start with a prologue, but with a stage of 213 kilometers which takes the Tour caravan along the east coast of Corsica, from Porto-Vecchio to Bastia. This stage is cut out for sprinters. All cycling fans can look forward to a battle between the new German champion André Greipel, Mark Cavendish, Matt Goss, Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan. Because it’s the first day not only the stage win is at stake but also the yellow jersey.

Afterwards there are two relative short, but very feisty stages on Corsica. The second stage (156 km) starts in Bastia, where the first stage finished, and goes across the island to the capital Ajaccio. There are four climbs on the route next Sunday. The difficult part is in the middle with one climb of third and two of second category that follow right after one another. In the final there is a hill of third category, with top at 12 km from the finish. The day after the Tour visits the west side of Corsica and also in this stage (145,5 km) there are four hills, this time more spread. The Col de Marsolino (2nd cat.) is 3,3 km long and has an average gradient of 8,1 %. At the top it’s 13,5 kilometers to go to the finish in Calvi. In these three days on Corsica the GC riders will have to be careful not to lose any time on their opponents.

Monday evening the riders go to the mainland where a team time trial will be ridden with start and finish in Nice. It’s a flat and fast course of 25 kilometers, with two passages on the famous Promenade des Anglais. The fifth stage departs in Cagnes-sur-Mer and finishes in Marseille, this city was visited already in the first Tour in 1903 and hosted the finish of the second stage and the start of the third one. 30,5 km from the end there is the last of four small climbs, in this stage the sprinters possibly get a new opportunity. A day later the finish is in Montpellier, perfect for a bunch sprint. Just before the Tour goes into the Pyrenees there is the stage Montpellier – Albi, in which there are two climbs of second category and then one of third and fourth, this last one at less than 35 km from the finish.

Saturday 6th of July the riders will climb the first mountain hors catégorie: the Col de Pailhières (15,3 km, 8% average). After a descent of almost 20 kilometers there is the climb to Ax 3 Domaines of category one (7,8 km, 8,2% average). After the top it’s 1,5 flat kilometers to the finish line. Before the peloton can have a rest, there’s still a hard day to come with five climbs. After the Col de Portet d’Aspet (2nd cat.) there are four mountains of first category, to begin the Col de Menthé (7 km and 7,7% average) and the Peyresourde (13,2 km and 7 % average). After the climb La Hourquette d’Anzican (9,9 km, 7,5% average) there is a descent of 30,5 km to the finish in Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

Week 1

Stage 1: Saturday 29th of June: Porto-Vecchio – Bastia (213 km)

Stage 2: Sunday 30th of June: Bastia – Ajaccio (156 km)

Stage 3: Monday 1st of July: Ajaccio – Calvi (145,5 km)

Stage 4: Tuesday 2nd of July: Nice – Nice (25 km) (TTT)

Stage 5: Wednesday 3rd of July: Cagnes-sur-Mer – Marseille (228,5 km)

Stage 6: Thursday 4th of July: Aix-en-Provence – Montpellier (176,5 km)

Stage 7: Friday 5th of July: Montpellier – Albi (205,5 km)

Stage 8: Saturday 6th of July: Castres – Ax 3 Domaines (195 km)

Stage 9: Sunday 7th of July: Saint-Girons – Bagnères-de-Bigorre (168,5 km)


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