La Croix Blanche
First rider: 10:45 a.m., then 2-minute intervals for the first until the final 20 riders, who start at 3-minute intervals.
Course: There’s always something to be fought over in the final
time trial, particularly one as demanding as this 50km test in the Beaujolais
region. After an opening 4km through the vineyards to Villié-Morgon,
the course heads west into the hills to tackle the narrow, twisting 1000-foot
climb to Fût d’Avesnes. From the summit, the riders have to negotiate
a tricky downhill of 1377 feet to the Saône valley. The last 27km
are rolling through the vineyards with faster roads toward the end in the
city of Mâcon.
History: There was one previous time trial finishing at Mâcon,
in 1991. It was a 57km test starting north of the city in Lugny and was
won by Induráin, 27 seconds ahead of Gianni Bugno, with Greg LeMond
in third, 48 seconds back.
Favorites: Armstrong is again the favorite to win the time trial
— and put the icing on what should be his fourth consecutive Tour title.
Behind him, there will be the usual fight for the second and third spots
on the podium. Will Hamilton or Leipheimer be challenging? Or Botero and
Beloki? It will be fun to see who emerges.