Ypres to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut (155.5km)
Wednesday, July 9th 8:00 a.m. – 11:18 a.m. EDT
Race organizers have decided to enliven the 2014 race with cobblestones, which will strike fear into the main contenders. There may be only 15.4km of cobblestones compared to the 50km that form Paris-Roubaix, which passes through the same territory, but it only takes one little section of stones to bring riders crashing down, or send some home with a broken collarbone. The cobblestones are spread out over nine separate sections, during the last 70km of this stage, so expect the overall contenders’ teams to be most jittery late in the day. The Tour may not be won here, but it can certainly be lost. The stage starts in Belgium, at Ypres, a town that gained notoriety for gas attacks in World War I. Clearly, the Tour de France couldn’t ignore paying tribute in its own way to the ceremonies marking the centenary of the start of the First World War. This route should offer us a fabulous battle.