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Tour de France Parcours - Part 4
 
By Podofdonny
Date: 6/28/2003
Tour de France Parcours - Part 4
 

100th Tour de France

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

Please visit the official site here.

Parcours

Stages 11 to 15 - Into the Pyrenees!

Stage 11 - July 17 Narbonne to Toulouse 153 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

So following the rest day the riders have a comparatively easy day to get back into the racing rhythm. The côte de Saissac around half way through the stage will no doubt be the launching pad for those riders well rested and lowly enough on General Classification to have a go at the great escape. Meanwhile, Petacchi, Zabel and McEwen, provided they have made it in one piece over the Alpes, will resume the battle for the Green jersey.

Miguel Indurain noted -

"I'm fascinated by the sprinters. They suffer so much during the race just to get to the finish, they hang on for dear life in the climbs, but then in the final kilometres they are transformed and do amazing things. It's not their force per se that impresses me, but rather the renaissance they experience. Seeing them suffer throughout the race only to be reborn in the final is something for fascination."

While the sprinters themselves see the race more pragmatically -

"You have to sprint on feeling, not thinking. You must have faith in yourself but you cannot think about it too much." --Jean Paul Van Poppel

The riders for the general Classification will once again be protected by their teams as much as possible; with Friday's time trial high on their minds.

Courtesy Vuelta

Stage 12 - July 18 Gaillac to Cap Découverte Ind. Time Trial 47 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

A crucial stage. The fact that the first individual time trial in the race comes sandwiched between the Alpes and Pyrenees may mean that the great time trialers in the race (Armstrong, Gonzalez, Botero and Millar) have to judge their efforts more precisely than normal. Too big an effort today may lead to a disaster in the following stage which is a mountain top finish.

The course itself favours the big rouleurs and Armstrong will be hoping to stamp his authority on the race with a dominating performance. However, look out for Michael Rogers, Uwe Peschel and Michael Rich; these great testers will not be bothered about spending their days in the Pyrenees in the “bus” and that may well be crucial as to who actually wins the stage.

Courtesy Vuelta

Stage 13- July 19 Toulouse to Plateau de Bonascre 197 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

A stage designed for the huge TV audience with all its drama and challenges coming in the last 40 kilometres of racing. The peloton will head through the narrow gorges of the Aude and then tackle the Port de Pailheres, which makes its debut as a Tour climb. The Port de Pailheres is a tricky climb, 2001 meter altitude and the distance is 14 km. The Kelme and Euskatel boys will be sending riders up the road en -masse which will make the race very difficult to control for the yellow jersey. Once over the top a tricky descent towards the Ariege valley is followed by a grand stand finish nine-kilometre climb to the plateau of Bonascre.

This and the following two days are the crucial time in this year's Tour for those riders who believe they can dislodge Armstrongs hold on the yellow jersey. The US Postal team with Heras and Beltran in support should be strong enough to field off any challenge, but if any rider does have ambitions then this is the time to start the attacks.

Giro winner Gilberto Simoni is well aware of this -

"At the Tour de France we’ll try and cause problems for Armstrong. He’s always had an easy ride to Paris because he’s never faced real climbers. Other riders on the podium have been Beloki, Ullrich, Moreau, all riders who are good in time trials but much weaker than Armstrong in the mountains. If we can get him in a trap, we can make Armstrong panic. The route of the Tour doesn’t seem hard but the route of the Giro didn’t seem hard either and looked what happened. This proves that it’s the riders who make the race hard or not."

Simoni, can he turn Pink into Yellow?

Stage 14- July 20 Saint-Girons to Loudenvieille 191 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

Four Cat One climbs and two Cat two climbs and the crossing into Spain will make this day one of high drama and Spanish emotion. The succession of hard climbs will make it a day of attrition, and will test the nerves of the Yellow jersey team as they try and keep tabs on who is going up the road and what effect they may have on the race. It is a stage that may see the battle of supremacy between the teams as opposed to individuals. Make no mistake, any rider wishing to remain in contention will need a strong team on this stage to protect and support him, given the six climbs and 55km of real climbing in total, which is why the Carlos Sastre and Tyler Hamilton combination has given Armstrong food for thought -

"Tyler's a threat, we know that," Armstrong said. "If you had to name 10 people, he's on the list. He climbs well, he time-trials well. He has made a lot of progress over the years. I would say he is now a complete rider."

Additionally, CSC have a great team manager with former Tour de France winner Riis, who is well aware of the pitfalls and tramas of the three week race - "I'm sure Armstrong will be very strong. It's not easy to get the victory from him. But you never know what can happen -- he can be sick, he can crash, have a bad day like anybody else."

ibanesto.com

Stage 15 - July 21: Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Luz-Ardiden 159 km

© Copyright Amaury Sport Organisation / A.S.O. 2003

Arguably the toughest day in the race. With 2 HC climbs in the last 30 kilometres, and legendary climbs at that.

The Col de Tourmalet was introduced to the race in 1910 - and it was Gustave Garrigou who had the honour of being the first to cross the summit. 15 minutes later, Lapize appeared, covered in mud and pushing his bike. "Assassins," he spat, before riding on, eventually to win the stage. Desgrange saw that the Tourmalet was a winning formula; the Pyrenean giant has been included in the Tour more times than any other mountain.

Courtesy while seated

In 2001 the Tour route covered the same final climbs and it was a victory for Roberto Laiseka ahead of battling Belli and Armstrong and Ullrich who were locked in their own battle.

This year the stage could well determine who has won the race, certainly a lot of tired legs will be grateful that the following day is the Tour's second rest day.

Roberto Laiseka


 
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