Le Jardin, St. Martin-de-Landelles
Flying Start: 12:20 p.m. on D.30, intersection of D.30 – La Motte
Course: At 217.5km, this is the longest stage of the opening two
weeks. Again, there are no major climbs, but there are about two dozen
short hills that, combined with the distance, will give a chance to long-range
attacks. The most difficult section is the final 52km — first climbing
out of the Blavet valley at Pontivy, and then heading over the steep Côte
de Kervaland 30km from the finish, before descending into the town of Plouay.
Here, the Tour will make a lap of the 2000 world’s road circuit, which
is named after Jean-Yves Perron, the late promoter of the town’s annual
French classic. The circuit has three short hills in its 13.5km, two on
narrow back roads, the last, the Cat. 4 Côte de Ty-Marrec, on a wide
main road, 3.5km from the line.
History: This is the first Tour stage to end in Plouay, although
a stage did start here (in the rain) in 1998. This stage starts in St.
Martin de Landelles, the hometown of the long-time Tour de France announcer
Daniel Mangeas; halfway into the race it passes through St. Méen-le-Grand,
hometown of the late three-time Tour winner Louison Bobet; and it ends
at Plouay, where the annual GP Ouest-France has been held for the past
Favorites: This is the sort of stage and finish that should suit
an inspired Jalabert, especially if he can get into a small breakaway group.
Otherwise, the finale should be fast enough to split the peloton on the
narrow roads — beware of crashes — and could result in a stage win for
world champion Oscar Freire, who was third at the 2000 world’s on the Plouay