Place du Glacis – Luxembourg
First rider start: 4 p.m., then at one-minute intervals for 189 riders.
Course: This is just about as tricky (and as slow) as a prologue
course can be. Besides containing about 20 turns, there are stretches of
cobblestones, narrow streets in the old town of Luxembourg and three bridge
crossings. The 7.3km course drops 225 feet in the first 2km to the Alzette
River; climbs back 100 feet beneath the city walls at 4km; drops back to
the riverbank; and then climbs 150 feet up the switchback Cat. 4 Rue de
Prague at 5km. The last 2km is on straight, wider roads, slightly uphill
to the Rue des Glacis. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain or there’ll be a host
of riders falling.
History: This is the second time that the Tour has started in
Luxembourg, In 1989, on a different course, Dutchman Erik Breukink won
the 7.8km prologue at 47.272 kph, six seconds faster than Laurent Fignon
and Greg LeMond — who would fight out the Tour overall that year. The bigger
news was the 2:40 late start by defending champion Pedro Delgado. “I simply lost sense of time,” he said.
Favorites: This is similar, but more technical than the 1999
Tour prologue at Le Puy du Fou, where Lance Armstrong beat runner-up Alex
Zülle by seven seconds. The Texan is again the big favorite, but don’t
count out riders like Santiago Botero, David Millar, Tyler Hamilton, Rik
Verbrugghe and Levi Leipheimer.