2011 Tour de France Prelude and Predictions
The 2011 Tour de France will consist of 10 flat stages, six mountain stages with four summit finishes, one individual time trial, and one team time trial. A look at the stages of the 2011 Tour de France and Roadcycling.com's predictions for the final general classification.
The 2011 Tour will consist of 10 flat stages, six mountain stages with four summit finishes, one individual time trial, and one team time trial. There will be 23 Category 2, Category 1, or Hors Categorie climbs. The race will be 3,471 km long. As always, it will be a challenge for all.
The 2011 Tour de France will begin in the Vendee, on the west coast of France. Stage 1 will be a 191-km ride from the Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts to Mont des Alouettes les Herbiers. The stage will end with a sharp, 232-m climb that might play to the strengths of someone such as world champion Thor Hushovd (Team Garmin- Cervelo).
Stage 2 will be a 23-km team trial on a pancake-flat course in and around Les Essarts. The stage will be an early test of strength for the teams with contenders. Each rider will receive his actual time.
Stage 3 will take the riders out of the Vendee and into Brittany, a stronghold of French cycling. The rolling, 198-km run from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon should end in a bunch sprint, which someone such as Mark Cavendish (Team HTC) should win.
Stage 4, a 172-km ride from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne, is unusual for an early Tour de France stage because it features a summit finish. The contenders probably will not fight for the win this early in the race, however. Look for a no-hope climber to take it.
The riders will experience more of Brittany in Stage 5, a 158-km run from Carhaix to Cap Frehel. The stage should end in a sprint finish.
Stage 6, which will take the riders from Brittany into Normandy, might end in a late stage break. The 226-km ride from Dinan to Lisieux, the longest stage of the 2011 Tour, features a steep climb less than two km from the finish. Look for a rouleur to grab this one.
The sprinters should have their way in Stage 7. The 215-km run from Le Mans to Chateauroux has no major difficulties, and riders such as Cavendish or Oscar Freire (Rabobank) should have the best chance of winning.
Stage 8, a 190-km ride from Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy, will be the first medium mountain stage of the race. The race ends with a climb that might be challenging enough to make the climbers fight for the stage win.
Stage 8 will take the riders into the Massif Central, but Stage 9 will be a stage that will be completely fought out in that region. The 208-km ride from Issoire to Saint-Flour will feature three categorized climbs. A breakaway is likely to decide the outcome of this stage. The first rest day will take place after this stage.
Stage 10 will be a rolling, 161-km run from Aurillac to Carmaux. The stage should be won by a sprinter.
Stage 11, a 168-km ride from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur, will be another rolling stage that should end in a bunch sprint. Look for the sprinters to compete fiercely on what will be their last