2006 Tour de France Preview and Predictions

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06/30/2006| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears). Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears). Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

2006 Tour de France Preview and Predictions

The 2006 Tour de France will be the first Tour of the post-Armstrong era.

The 2006 Tour de France will be the first Tour of the post-Armstrong era. The king, however, will have a worthy successor. The team time trial will not be in the race, but <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
La Grande  Boucle, which will be 3,600 km long, will have 116 km of individual time trialing. In addition, the riders will tackle five mountain stages with three mountaintop finishes, nine flat stages, and four medium mountain stages. The race will include 22 Category 1, 2, and hors categorie climbs. The new king will be no pretender.


The Tour will begin with a seven-km prologue in
, which is on the Franco-German border, on July 7. Stage 2 will be a 183-km road race in and around Strasbourg before the Tour traverses Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium, and northern
. Given the terrain over which Stages 2 to 4 will be ridden, they will have the feel of classics, with Stage 2 going from Obernai to Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg; Stage 3 running from Esch-sur-Alzette to Valkenburg, the Netherlands; and Stage 4 starting in Huy, Belgium, crossing the French border, and ending in St-Quentin.   Stage 5, which will run from Beauvais to
, will be the first true sprinters? stage. Stage 6, a 184-km run from Lisieux to Vitre, will be another sprinters? stage, and Stage 7 will be a flat, 52-km time trial from St-Gregoire to
. Stage 8 will be a sprinters? run from St-Meen-le-Grand to
. The day after Stage 8 will be the Tour?s first rest day, with the riders being transferred by air from Lorient to


During the second week of the Tour, the riders will climb the Pyrenees, and they will approach the
Alps. Stage 9 will be a flat, 170-km ride from
to Dax that figures to be won by a sprinter. Stage 10, the first Pyrenean stage, will be a 193-km run from Cambo-les-Bains to Pau that will take the riders over the Cols d?Osquich, du Soulet, and de Marie Blanque. Stage 11, a 204-km slog from Tarbes to Val d?Aran/Pla-de-Beret in
, will go over the Cols du Tourmalet, d?Aspin, de Peyresourde, and du Pourtillon before ending with the race?s first mountaintop finish. Stage 12 will take place on Bastille Day, with a Frenchman attempting to win the 211-km ride from Luchon to
. Stage 13 will be a flat, 231-km run from
to Montelimar, and Stage 14 will extend 181 km from Montelimar to Gap. The second rest day will take place on Monday, July 17.


The riders will tackle the Tour?s first Alpine stage on Tuesday, July 18. On Stage 15, the field will start in Gap and will breast the Cols d?Izoard and de Lautaret before fighting for the day?s honors atop L?Alpe d?Huez. Stage 16 will take the riders from Bourg d?Oisans over the Cols du Galibier, du Telegraphe, du Glandon, de
la Croix-de -Fer, and du Mollard to the finishing climb to
La Toussuire. Stage 17, the 2006 Tour?s last mountain


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