Avenue Billoux, Lanester
First Starter at: 10:30 a.m. then 2-minute intervals.
Course: For the men who hope to contend for the podium in Paris,
this 52km time trial is the 2002 Tour’s first major test. It is a virtual
circuit, because the start town of Lanester is an eastern suburb of Lorient,
where the stage ends. Taking a counter-clockwise direction, the stage can
be neatly divided into three tiers: 1) the opening 18.5km that starts with
two hills on narrow back roads and a steep descent into the Scorff valley,
with a short climb to Pont-Scorff before heading west (probably into the
wind); 2) the middle 16.5km, which is less hilly, first on 4km of farm
roads then heading toward the coast, via Guidel, with a last climb and
short descent to Guidel-Plages; and 3) the final 17km, mostly flat alongside
the ocean, and probably with the wind.
History: This is the seventh time that a Tour stage has finished
at Lorient, but this year sees the first time trial. In 1998, stage 3 ended
with the same final 20km — and a long-distance break ended with a win for
Jens Heppner over Xavier Jan and George Hincapie.
Favorites: No one expects to beat Lance Armstrong in this challenging
time trial. The question is by how much will he beat the opposition? Will
it be on the level of the 1992 Miguel Induráin, who beat his closest
opposition by three minutes in a 65km test at Luxembourg? With no Jan Ullrich,
the closest to the defending champion could be his fellow Americans Bobby
Julich, Hamilton, and Leipheimer. Others in the top 10 should be Botero,
Millar, Joseba Beloki, Oscar Sevilla, Dario Frigo and Alex Vinokourov.