07.07 - stage 1: Luxembourg - Luxembourg 192.5 km
A nervous and excitable peloton will leave the Place du Glacis in Luxembourg and will cover 192 kilometres of rolling terrain before returning back into the city for the finish. With everybody wishing to do well and every rider trying to keep at the front of the peloton, expect silly crashes and non-stop attacking from the start of the stage.
The stage includes four classified climbs - two category three (Cote de Hoscheid 70k and Cote de Wormeldange 150 k) and two category four (Cote de Vianden 87k and Cote de Hostert 182 km). The breakaway specialists such as Jacky Durand, Christophe Agnolutto and Francois Simon will be looking to make an early impression and will like the parcours. Not only is there a chance to steal the king of the Mountains jersey but the final categorised climb of the day on the Cote de Hostert comes just ten kilometres from the finish - if a small group can get over this climb with enough advantage they could make it to the finish.
Alternatively, if the peloton remains intact, the last climb (often used in cycling races) could well be a launch pad for an early attack for those teams without a sprinter.
Having said all that, chances are the stage will end in a mass sprint finish - and it is very much an uphill finish which will suit Erik Zabel in his quest to win yet another Green jersey. However this year he seems to have more competition than ever before - Robbie McEwen has been in top form all season, Stuart O’Grady, Tom Steels and Oscar Freire will all be looking to challenge Telekom’s domination in the sprinters competition.
Daily Peloton’s Stage Prediction
The parcours seems to suit two men - Erik Zabel and Laurent Jalabert. The Panda may not wish to be involved in the hurly burly so soon in the race, so expect Hondo and Fagnini to give Zabel the perfect lead out for his first stage victory in the 2002 Tour de France.
"Flamme Rouge" - In Tour de France, there is a tradition - the last kilometre of each stage is identified by the so-called flamme rouge (red pennant. Until recently, the red pennant was simply hoisted vertically on a rope fixed up vertically above the road. Nowadays, the red pennant is hardly seen because it is incorporated in a huge multicoloured sponsored plastic porch. The red pennant is used to show the last kilometre in several international cyclist races, and even in races where there is no flag commentators will still refer to the last kilometre as the Flamme Rouge.
1924 - 2 stages tour de France
1925 - Tour of the Basque Country
- stages, Tour de France
1926 - Tour of the Basque Country
1927 - Tour de France -Overall
- 3 stages, Tour de France
- Paris Brussels
1928 - Tour de France Overall
- 5 stages Tour de France
1929 - Paris - Tours
- 2 stages Tour de France
In 1928 Nicholas Frantz became one of the four riders to have taken the lead on the first day and held it to the finish. However, since he had won the Tour the year before, he was entitled to wear the yellow jersey on the opening day, when he won in Caen. This makes him the only rider to have literally been in yellow from start to finish.
08.07 - stage 2: Luxembourg - Saarebrück 175 km
Once again the peloton departs from the Place du Glacis only this time the riders head off in a south-easterly direction into Germany. Expect massive crowds from cycling mad Germany who will be hoping that Zabel can give them a home victory. The Tour visits Saarebruck for the first time, the town is the Capital of the smallest German republic of Saar which has changed between French and German control throughout its history... The Saare became part of Germany in 1935, following a plebiscite, and in 1957 after a referendum. The German - French rivalry may well continue - expect more than one banner protesting at the bizarre decision not to invite one of the world's top touring teams - Team Coast.
Certainly the local community has taken the race to their hearts - they have planned a host of supporting events to coincide with the races arrival - and even have an excellent website - which informs us that "Armstrong is in superb condition" and gives details of local events, well worth a visit: http://www.tour.saarland.de/ (German only.) Images
The two category four climbs at 60 and 133 kilometres will not bother the peloton too much, but may well be disputed fiercely by the early holder of the Polka Dot jersey and his close rivals.
Once again the baroudeur - rouleurs will try and defy the peloton with a brave escape - however with the Telekom team desperate for a home victory and a speedy downhill finish into Saarebruck it looks like being a day for the fast finishers and their teams.
Daily Peloton’s Stage Prediction
Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out, Telekom may be just trying too hard today. With the sad news that Mapei looks like it's pulling out of cycling, expect their riders to be super motivated - Tom Steels could well be the first man across the line.
Mathias Clemens was born on August 8, 1915 and died on November 24, 2001. He won five Tours of Luxembourg between 1935 and 1947, as well as the Charleville-Metz stage in the 1936 Tour de France. He also finished in the top five of the overall classification in 1938 and 1939. He also won the Grand Prix Westermark (held in Sarrebruck) in 1941.
Tour de France
1st stage Charleville-Metz in 1936
7th overall in 1936
5th overall in 1938
4th overall in 1939
1st overall Tour de Luxembourg (1935, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1947)
3 stage wins Tour of Catalonia in 1940
1st Grand Prix Westermark (Sarrebruck) in 1941
Champion of Luxembourg in 1938 and 1948
Champion of Luxembourg in cyclocross in 1940
3rd "Rund um Luxemburg" in 1942, 2nd in 1943
“Baroudeur-rouleur” - rouleur is a common word used to describe riders who can ride all day over rolling parcours - Max Sciandri is a good example. Baroudeur means one who makes a valiant last stand - so a baroudeur-rouleur is a rider brave enough to go on a suicidal solo effort - such as Jacky Durand or Christophe Agnolutto.
09.07 - stage 3: Metz - Reims 185 km
The tour returns to French soil where it will remain until its conclusion in Paris. Metz has always been a popular Tour destination - indeed up until 1951 the race began as it ended in Paris (with the exception of 1926 edition when it started in Evian, presumably it was the only way they could get the massive 5,745 kilometres crammed in) - the first town chosen for this honour was Metz. The town is the Capital of the Lorraine region and was the centre of the Carolingian kingdom (a dynasty of Frankish rulers, founded in the 7th cent. by Pepin of Landen, who, as mayor of the palace, ruled the East Frankish Kingdom of Austrasia for Dagobert I. His descendants included Pepin of Heristal, Charles Martel, Carloman, and Pepin the Short, presumably not a tall man).
A strange contrast of a religious and military city it is a town steeped in Tour legend.
The riders will leave Metz city centre at 13.00 and head due West towards Reims. Apart from two Category 4 climbs, one at the very start and the second after 94 kilometres the parcours for the last 50 kilometres are pancake flat. Any escapee move would seem foolish on a parcours such as these - but inevitably some will try. They will probably be left to dangle in front of the peloton driven by the yellow jersey and the sprinters' teams who will be looking for glory on a perfect stage for the fast men.
Champagne Finish - Reims - the county town of Marne is the "Capital" of the Champagne growing area of France. Also famous for it’s cloth and Gothic Cathederal from Clovis to Louis XI, most of France’s kings were crowned here - and today the "king" sprinter will certainly be celebrating with a modest glass of the local produce. Images
The Tour first held a stage in 1938 (Stage winner: Fabien Galateau) and for the last time in 1991 (Stage winner: Djamel Abdoujaparov).
Daily Peloton's Stage Prediction
Robbie McEwan is having a perfect season - 14 victories so far this season including two in Paris Nice - and two in the Giro d’Italia. Easy to recognise in his Australian National jersey, he had enough common sense and confidence to quit the Giro early to spend time with his wife and newborn baby. McEwan to top a unique Australian three man podium places - McEwan, O’Grady, Cooke.
"Voiture balai" - Broom Wagon - small coach or truck traditionally decorated with a besom of witches broom beside the drivers cab. It follows the last man on the road ‘sweeping up’ any riders (and their bikes) if they abandon the race.
Metz first held a stage in 1907 (Stage winners: E. Georget et Trousselier) and for the last time in 1999 (Stage winner: Armstrong). The town has been witness to many dramas in the race. In 1999 Armstrong powered round the 56 kilometre course on stage 8 to take the yellow jersey - which he then held all the way to Paris - his only real challenger being Alex Zuelle - who of course, in spite of his form this year will not be competing - the results that day were:
Metz - Metz, time trial 56 km
1. Lance Armstrong (USA-USP) 1.08.36
2. Alex Zülle (SWI-BAN) + 0.57
3. Christophe Moreau (FRA-FES) + 2.04
4. Abraham Olano (SPA-ONC) + 2.21
5. Tyler Hamilton (USA-USP) + 3.30
6. Chris Boardman (GBR-C.A) + 3.31
7. Alvaro González de Galdeano (SPA-VIT) + 3.40
8. Jens Voigt (GER-C.A) + 3.41
9. Stuart O'Grady (AUS-C.A) + 3.45
10. Laurent Dufaux (SWI-SAE) + 3.55