Stage by Stage

Saturday, June 29
Porto-Vecchio > Bastia
213 km
Perfil de la etapa
"Why isn't there a prologue? Quite simply because we wanted to take the fullest advantage of Corsica, the only region of France that has never previously welcomed the Tour de France. With that in mind, we've put together a first stage of 212km that runs through magnificent countryside: we will start off by heading to beautiful Bonifacio! There's little doubt we will also start with a win for a sprinter. This is a golden opportunity for the likes of Cavendish, for example, to claim the yellow jersey. I'll remind you that the previous road stage "openings", at Plumelec and Les Herbiers, finished on the top of hills, which favoured the puncheurs. Here, the advantage lies with the pure sprinters."


Sunday, June 30
Bastia > Ajaccio
156 km
Perfil de la etapa
"Initially, there will be plenty of hoopla around the yellow jersey: whether it's Cavendish or Kittel, we should expect the race to unfold in exactly the same way, and the same goes if Sagan has it. That's because this second stage is a real rollercoaster ride: the Col de la Serra and Col de Vizzavona, followed, at the end, by the Côte du Salario. If you ask me, this parcours is going to cause some real damage! The sprinters will bail out one after another. I even think a team leader who is not in the best of condition ? I'm thinking of how Evans was last year ? could see all of their hopes dashed on this stage, before sinking altogether on the stage that follows, on a course where it will be even harder to hide away..."


Monday, July 1
Ajaccio > Calvi
145,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"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."


Team          team-trial
Tuesday, July 2
Nice > Nice
25 km
Perfil de la etapa
"An hour-long flight the evening before will enable the riders to sleep in Nice. Then they will have the morning to recover after the extremely tough passage through Corsica: in all likelihood, this should be the most physically demanding Grand Départ since San Sebastián in 1992! And now we come to this team time trial, where each team's time will be taken when their fifth rider crosses the line. Naturally, in what is a straightforward and relatively short test (25km), they are going to be moving quickly, very quickly! I am expecting an average speed of 55 kilometres/hour, and perhaps even more, on the Promenade des Anglais. There will be a duel between the Quick Step and Sky teams!"


Wednesday, July 3
Cagnes-sur-Mer > Marseille
228,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"Finally, the riders can ease off a touch and take some time to catch their breath! Our objective at this point as the organisers was clear: to give the sprinters and hopefully the baroudeurs an opportunity, because it would even better if an escape could survive all the way to the finish? Plenty of teams will already be taking stock of where they stand in terms of the race as a whole. Who is in good form? Who has lost form? Who must forget about the general classification and start thinking about stage wins? I think in some eras, a Merckx or an Hinault would have come away from Corsica with an advantage of three or four minutes and the Tour would already be as good as done! In Marseille, this year, the race should still be a lot more open."


Thursday, July 4
Aix-en-Provence > Montpellier
176,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"A flat stage that's not too long (179km), which in theory should be the preserve of the sprinters, because bunch finishes are obviously one part of cycling that shouldn't be neglected. The landscape will be beautiful: we will be passing through the Baux-de-Provence. That said, it would be dangerous to view this stage simply as one of transition? The heat, which can be extreme, could have a role to play, especially after 219km the day before! And there's always the chance the wind can get up. On an almost identical course, the wind almost played a very nasty trick on Contador in 2009? However, logic would suggest the candidates for the green jersey will feast on this stage."


Friday, July 5
Montpellier > Albi
205,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"This is the third of the so-called "transition" stages, even though the route for this one is a bit more rolling: we are approaching the Pyrenees, the major objective at the end of the week. In theory, there is an opportunity here for the sprinters in a Tour that quite frankly doesn't do them a lot of favours? In fact, it is quite possible the battle for the green jersey might already have been decided. Imagine, for example, Sagan has taken two victories in Corsica, leaving him well ahead of Kittel, Cavendish, Goss, Greipel? How will his rivals catch up with him? Once again, this underlines the importance of the initial days of the race. Any time or points dropped there could be regretted to the very end!"


Saturday, July 6
Castres > Ax 3 Domaines
195 km
Perfil de la etapa
"After eight days of racing, we reach the Pyrenees. The scene would be a familiar one if it wasn't for the start in Corsica and the consequences that is likely to have had. Where will the contenders be placed before taking on the very difficult Col de Pailhères, the first key test of this 100th Tour? No one can say for sure, even though it's a good bet there will already be some decent gaps between them going into this stage. My worry? That Wiggins, Froome and Porte finish one, two and three at the summit of Ax 3 Domaines, which wouldn't sit well with the glorious uncertainty of sport! But we will have to wait and see. In any case, the Spaniards will be ready. They are heading into their terrain..."


Sunday, July 7
Saint-Girons > Bagnères-de-Bigorre
168,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"If you can say yesterday's stage could effectively be summed up, as far as the favourites are concerned, as a hill-climb decided on the final ascent, today's menu will have another flavour entirely? Firstly, it's a relatively short stage (165km). Next, it is extremely difficult, featuring no fewer than five passes. Our aim? To complicate the racing strategy and maintain the suspense? That's why there is a long and demanding 30km descent into the finish at Bagnères-de-Bigorre. We thought it might inspire the likes of Nibali or Evans to put together an interesting tactical plan in the hope of destabilising the likely dominance of the Sky Pro Cycling team."


Tuesday, July 9
Saint-Gildas-des-Bois > Saint-Malo
197 km
Perfil de la etapa
"After a plane transfer and a rest day at Saint-Nazaire, the Tour heads into Western France once again for a magnificent finish beneath Saint-Malo's ramparts. It's fair to say that this is a stage designed with tradition in mind, in as much as it will enable us to honour the memory of Louison Bobet and pay tribute to Bernard Hinault. This 100th edition of the Tour de France will feature another great symbol of national life: for the first time, the riders will pass through the heart of the Coëtquidan military camp, where the elite cadets from the Saint-Cyr military school will line up in their splendid uniforms to honour them. The moment will provide some unforgettable, moving and typically French images. Then we will probably see the sprinters perform..."


Individual     team-trial
Wednesday, July10
Avranches > Mont-Saint-Michel
33 km
Perfil de la etapa
"One symbol follows another. After Coëtquidan and Saint-Malo, we will be setting up camp in front of Mont Saint-Michel for another stage that promises to be spectacular. Our countryside will get a tremendous publicity boost if the sun decides to come to the party as well. Mont Saint-Michel is France's second most popular tourist attraction after the Eiffel Tower, and images of it will be broadcast to two billion viewers across the world? All this could almost make us forget that, back on the road, there will a great duel between the rouleurs. As part of the balancing act designed to maintain suspense, we have opted for a shorter time trial than those in recent editions."


Thursday, July 11
Fougères > Tours
218 km
Perfil de la etapa
"This is a long stage (218km) because we wanted to be able to reach Lyon in three days. The finish should suit the sprinters. But it will all depend on what ambitions everyone has now? The idea that Quick Step, Orica-GreenEdge and Lotto will shackle the whole peloton in order to set up Cavendish, Goss and Greipel can't be excluded, and this scenario will automatically suit the team that has the yellow jersey. I would prefer to see some attacks, some movement... Contrary to a perceived idea, the Sky riders do have weaknesses. At the Olympic Games, they exhausted themselves on the front of the peloton chasing behind everyone. That should make everyone else believe they should never give up. Last year's winners will not necessarily be this year's winners."


Friday, July 12
Tours > Saint-Amand-Montrond
173 km
Perfil de la etapa
"On this kind of stage where there is no obvious difficulty, the likelihood is that Sagan, Cavendish or Greipel will be wearing the green jersey and wanting to consolidate their grip on it at the finish... However, I've done some sums and realised it is not out of the question that a man like Contador might spend several days in green! He will score points in Corsica, in the Pyrenees and in the time trial. On those occasions, the top sprinters, save for perhaps Sagan, will be right at the back. In other words, we could see quite a strange situation that could spice up the race. It would be like a race within a race, confirming the unexpected is always possible on the Tour.""


Saturday, July 13
Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon
191 km
Perfil de la etapa
"A 191km stage that takes us to Lyon, where, on paper, there is little chance of the sprinters being in contention. Once again the exception to that rule is Peter Sagan, who has got a broader range of talent than the usual candidates for the green jersey. In addition, he should find this finish is right up his street since it is located after the Côte de la Croix-Rousse and the Côte de la Duchère. In short, it's a tricky stage, and certainly tricky enough for Lotto and Quick Step to have no interest in pace-making? Before the rendezvous with the Ventoux, there is another scenario too. A number of the baroudeurs will put a tick next to this stage. That could mean there is strength in numbers..."


Sunday, July 14
Givors > Mont Ventoux
242,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"This stage is the longest of this 100th Tour. It is also one of the most prestigious because nobody wins by chance on the Ventoux, especially not on 14 July? There are two scenarios: either a group gets away from a long way out and maintains enough of an advantage for the escapees to fight it between themselves; or the leaders shut down the race as far as the foot of the climb, transforming the stage into one enormous hill-climb! Depending on the weather, a lot of damage could be done today. Imagine what it could be like if there's blazing heat all day? Whether you're in the yellow jersey or not, if you do badly on this climb you will lose a quarter of an hour!"


Tuesday, July 16
Vaison-la-Romaine > Gap
168 km
Perfil de la etapa
"Never will a rest day have been as well deserved! After the Ventoux, the riders will be able to breathe a little easier for 24 hours in the Vaucluse. It is a short respite, as another series of difficulties await them. This stage, for example: it's only 168km, but this is testing terrain where the Tour has almost been lost in the past. You just have to look at the list of winners in Gap: Vinokourov, Fédrigo, Paulinho, Hushovd? I can also remember an attack made by Contador that messed up the strategy of the Schleck brothers? In short, this is a stage that will favour attacking riders. Some of them may get the opportunity to push themselves back into contention before the time trial..."


Individual     team-trial
Wednesday, July17
Embrun > Chorges
32 km
Perfil de la etapa
"The riders will have the blue waters of Lake Serre-Ponçon as a backdrop. It is a picture postcard setting. But don't imagine this is going to be a bucolic day? Indeed, this stage could turn out to be one of the turning points of the Tour. It has been conceived with the idea of spicing up the duel between the rouleurs who can climb well such as Froome and Contador, although on paper the likes of Wiggins and Quintana should not be excluded from consideration. I think that Belgian King of the Mountains Lucien Van Impe would have loved this course? One thing is sure: those riders who don't perform well on this stage will have some real problems on the next one to Alpe-d'Huez. There won't be any miracle comebacks."


Thursday, July 18
Gap > Alpe-d’Huez
172,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"The frisson of excitement that went through the auditorium when we presented this stage at the Palais des Congrès in Paris last October proved we were spot on with our expectations: the double ascent of Alpe-d'Huez will be a sensation! This innovation comes at the end of a short stage that we wanted to be both nervous and dynamic. It's an ideal parcours for attackers, like the one that enabled Contador to turn things around at last year's Vuelta when everyone thought he was beaten. And, just as it suits him, it will also suit Purito Rodríguez? Climbing the Alpe twice for the first time in the 100th Tour will be something special..."


Friday, July 19
Bourg-d’Oisans > Le Grand-Bornand
204,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"What was true in the Pyrenees is also true in the Alps: although the Tour de France is coming to its end, we wanted to offer bold riders the kind of terrain that will allow them to have an impact on the outcome. The first name that comes to me when I think of a rider of this type is Pierre Rolland: he loves the Alps and this run of consecutive cols, notably the Glandon and the Madeleine, seems likely to suit him. It remains to be seen if he will have any room for manoeuvre or if it will come down to a question of who is the strongest if the overall classification is very tight? I would like to see the former scenario. I don't like to think of us already knowing the name of the final winner on the summit of Alpe-d'Huez."


Saturday, July 20
Annecy > Annecy - Semnoz
125 km
Perfil de la etapa
"There is one last chance of glory? This was what we wanted to offer in putting together this stage, which is going to surprise many. It's only 125km, but what a parcours! There is barely any chance to rest. The riders will have to be on their mettle from the start to the finish at the "nearly new" summit of Semnoz. Although the yellow jersey may be safe, the podium places could well be decided on this climb, which measures 10.7km in length with an average gradient of 8.5%. We could end up with the same winner we had on Alpe-d'Huez... Rodríguez, for example. Or Froome? Or Contador. Whoever it is, it will be a rider from the top rank who will finish things off in style."


Sunday, July 21
Versailles > Paris Champs-Élysées
133,5 km
Perfil de la etapa
"It's the final day, and it's going to be incomparable in the strictest sense because we really wanted to pay full tribute at the end of this 100th edition. From the sporting perspective, there shouldn't be too many surprises: it's difficult to imagine the sprinters missing out! And if that sprinter happens, for the fifth consecutive occasion, to be called Mark Cavendish, then that really would be an extraordinary exploit. From the celebratory point of view, we have an unforgettable route, which will start in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, pass the monument to Jacques Anquetil, then go through the courtyard of the Louvre, before turning not in front of but around the Arc de Triomphe. The finish will be at dusk, at around 9.45pm. It will be magical..."




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