Place du Glacis – Luxembourg
Ceremonial Start: 12:20 p.m. Boulevard de la Foire.
Flying Start: 12:45 p.m. N. 12 Luxembourg Exit
Course: This five-hour loop around the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
is not a foregone conclusion for the sprinters. It contains a dozen climbs,
including four that have been categorized. The critical ones are all in
the final 45km. First comes the Cat. 3 Wall of Wormeldange, a near-15-percent
one-kilometer hill. There are two rollers away from the Moselle River before
the Cat. 4 Hostert climb, 10.5km from the finish, and finally the short
Côte d’Eich, less than a kilometer from the Rue des Glacis, with
the same finish line as the prologue.
History: Only two road stages of the Tour de France have finished
in Luxembourg. In 1947, the Italian Aldo Ronconi won the marathon 314km
stage 3 from Brussels in a solo break, 5:34 ahead of the chase group. In
1989, in the morning before a 46km team time trial, the 135.5km stage 1
saw an early, unopposed breakaway that finished almost five minutes clear.
The win went to Luxembourg-raised Portuguese rider Acacio Da Silva, who
attacked on the last hill to win alone, eight seconds up on the locally
based Dane, Søren Lilholt.
Favorites: The 192.5km stage should be a battle between the bold
attackers and the sprinters’ teams. Don’t expect top favorites like Armstrong to be involved unless they have to follow moves by potentially dangerous rivals like Michael Boogerd, Laurent Jalabert, Alex Vinokourov or Botero. The chances are that a small group will merge to contest the final sprint, which could be won by a rider like Fred Rodriguez.