Tour de France Course Profile

News & Results

06/19/2005| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill
Lance Armstrong - the Pyrenean stages could be decisive. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Lance Armstrong - the Pyrenean stages could be decisive. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Tour de France Course Profile

English philosopher Thomas Hobbes described human life in a state of nature as "nasty, cruel, brutish, and short."

English philosopher Thomas Hobbes described human life in a state of nature as ?nasty, cruel, brutish, and short.? At 3,604 km, the 2005 Tour de France will be all of these except short. The race will feature three mountaintop finishes, 74 km of individual time trials, a 67.5-km team time trial, and 20 Category 2, Category 1, and Hors Categorie climbs. La Grande Boucle will not end soon enough for those who start it.


The 2005 Tour de France will not begin with a prologue. Instead, the riders will tackle a 19-km individual time trial from Fromentine to Noirmoutier en l?Ile. Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) and Bobby Julich and Ivan Basso (both from CSC) should excel in the race of truth.



Stages 2 and 3 should end in sprints, with the second stage running from Challans to Les Essarts and the third going from La Chataigneraie to Tours.  Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) and Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will not ride the Tour, but look for Robbie McEwen (Davitamon), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), and Magnus Backstedt (Alessio), among others, to battle for stage wins. 


Stage 4 will be the race?s first test of strength for the teams. The stage will be a 67.5-km team time trial from Tours to Blois. Expect Discovery Channel, CSC, T-Mobile, and Phonak to end the day at the top of the heap. Look out for Gerolsteiner as well ? the team recently won the team time trial in Eindhoven.



Stages 5 to 8 will be stages for flatlanders. Stage 5 will go from Chambord to Montargis, and Stage 6 will take the riders from Troyes to Nancy. Stage 7 will begin in Luneville and will end in Karlsruhe, Germany. Stage 8 will begin in Pforzheim and will return the riders to France, ending in Gerardmer. Expect bunch sprints to be fought out among McEwen, Boonen, Robert Hunter (Phonak) et al.


In Stage 9, the Tour will enter the Vosges mountains. The 170-km ride from Gerardmer to Mulhouse will feature six climbs, including the Ballon d?Alsace, which was the first mountain ridden in the Tour (in 1905). The Ballon, however, is the day?s last climb, and the riders will breast it 55 km from the finish. Expect a break with riders such as Axel Merckx (Davitamon) or Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) to stay away. After the stage, the riders will transfer to Grenoble, where they will spend their first rest day.



After the rest day, the riders will take on the Alps. Stage 10, a 192-km ride from Grenoble to Courchevel, will take the riders over the Cormet de Roseland en route to the finishing ascent. This stage will shake up the standings. Stage 11, a 173-km ride from Courchevel to Briancon, will take the riders over the Cols de la Madeleine, de Telegraphe, and du Galibier. In Stage 10, expect the heads of stage to overhaul a break containing riders such as Pietro Caucchioli (Credit Agricole) or Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) on the finishing ascent. In Stage 11, expect a break containing riders such as Jose Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears) or Marcos Serrano (Liberty Seguros) to go over the Galibier with enough of an advantage to hold off the groupe maillot jaune.


Stages 12 and 13 will be transitional stages. The former will be hilly and will run 187 km from Briancon to Digne-les-Bains. Expect Frenchmen such as David Moncoutie (Cofidis) or Didier Rous (Bouygues Telecom) to try to escape for a win on Bastille Day. The latter will be a 162-km run from Miramas to Montpellier. The two stages will be lead-ins for the Pyrenean stages, which could be decisive.



Stage 14 will run 220 km from Agde to Ax-3 Domaines. The stage will feature two climbs, the Port de Pailheres and the finishing ascent. Stage 15 will be the hardest stage of the 2005 Tour. It will feature six categorized ascents, including a finishing climb. Stages 14 and 15 will end in donnybrooks on the final climb. In Stage 16, the final Pyrenean stage, the riders will breast four categorized climbs within 70 km in midstage. Lance Armstrong, Ivan Basso, Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) will battle for victory and the maillot jaune in Stages 14 and 15, while a small group might battle for the day?s honors in Stage 16.


Stages 17 to 19 will be for the sprinters. Stage 17 will be a 239-km run from Pau to Revel, and Stage 18 will take the riders 189 km from Albi to Mende. Stage 19 will run 154 km from Issoire to Le Puy-en-Velay.



Stage 20 will be a 55-km time trial at St. Etienne. Armstrong, Ullrich, Basso, and Santiago Botero (Phonak) will fight for the stage win. It will be the final chance to take the yellow jersey or to claim a higher spot in the general classification. Stage 21, the final stage, will be a 169-km run from Corbeil-Essonnes to the Champs Elysees. The stage will begin as a procession for the winner but will probably end as a battle for the green jersey. Expect Stuart O?Grady (Cofidis), McEwen, and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) to fight it out for the stage win and possibly the maillot vert.


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