The Tour de France is the biggest event in the cycling world, and with the race just now underway we can look at the first three stages of this year’s race.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tour, and it makes the race even more exciting. The race this year goes from June 29th all the way to July 21st, and will feature 21 stages.
The nearly month of cycling will feature seven flat, five hilly and six mountain stages along with two individual time-trial stages and one team time-trial stage.
The first team time-trial will take place on Stage 4, but before we get to that we have to look at the first three stages of the race, all of which are on-line stages.
Note: Any information is provided by the Tour de France official website unless otherwise specified.
When: Saturday, June 29th
Where: Porto-Vecchio to Bastia
Distance: 213 km
The first stage of the Tour will take place in Corsica, a French region where the race has never actually gone to until this year. The race will feature plenty of gorgeous landscapes and a unique feel to the race which hasn’t been seen before.
The first stage will be favorable for sprinters, as there are no dramatic changes in elevation. With the edge going to sprinters in the first stage, a sprinter could actually win the first-stage Yellow Jacket for the first time since 1966.
This is going to give the sprint teams a leg up to start the event. If they can’t capitalize to start off on the first stage, they are going to be in big trouble trying to come back during the hilly stages.
When: Sunday, June 30th
Where: Bastia to Ajaccio
Distance: 156 km
After a pretty even-level stage to kick off the Tour, things get a little bumpy in Stage 2.
Wait, did I say bumpy? I meant really steep.
The cyclists will start in Bastia, which is a sea level, and on their way to Ajaccio, they must go up to 1,200 meters above sea level at the Col de Vizzavona and back down to sea level in only 156 kilometers.
Leaders can’t get too complacent near the end of the race, as there will be another quick incline near the Cote du Salario just before the finish line, and could hurt the leader near the end.
Don’t expect to see the same guy wearing the Yellow Jacket two stages in a row, as these two stages are suited for very different kinds of racers.
When: Monday, July 1st
Where: Ajaccio to Calvi
Distance: 145.5 km
I think the best way to describe this race is to provide you with this great explanation by Jean Francois Pescheux on the Tour’s website:
We are not going to hide our feeling of satisfaction: this is the kind of stage we've been looking for for years! It's simple: there's not a single metre of flat, which means the peloton will get very stretched out, presenting the very real possibility of splits occurring. Let this be a warning to any team leaders who might mistakenly believe they can ride towards the back of the field? especially as, at 145km, this stage is very short! It will give the puncheurs plenty to conjure with. Thinking about just the French riders of that type, I can imagine Voeckler and Chavanel will be itching to get going... Whatever happens, at the finish we will know the names of those riders who can't win this Tour.
This will be the last stage that takes place in Corsica, and it will not be a flat one. Since there are no real straightaways, it’s hard for those behind the leader to see how far behind of the pack they are. This could also potentially cause some crashes, so it will be one to definitely watch out for, as people could lose time pretty easily.
Anything could happen on this stage, and that’s what the Tour de France is all about.