Road

Stage Preview: Throw the sprinters out the window

Nothing has changed on the face of the Tour, and the questions that arose yesterday still arise today: Who is in command, who has lost time, who wants to hold on and who wants to do it over? In other words, what remains of the team time trial -- which was presented as the Tour’s first big showdown? Without the ability to foresee the placings, we can still make the following statement: This new stage is short (162.5km); it plays out on terrain that begins to show some elevation, since it connects the Col du Kreuzweg at kilometer 48, the Col de Fouchy at kilometer 67, the Haut-de-Ribeauvillé

Strasbourg, July 14

Nothing has changed on the face of the Tour, and the questions that arose yesterday still arise today: Who is in command, who has lost time, who wants to hold on and who wants to do it over? In other words, what remains of the team time trial — which was presented as the Tour’s first big showdown? Without the ability to foresee the placings, we can still make the following statement: This new stage is short (162.5km); it plays out on terrain that begins to show some elevation, since it connects the Col du Kreuzweg at kilometer 48, the Col de Fouchy at kilometer 67, the Haut-de-Ribeauvillé hill at kilometer 88, the Col d’Adelspach at kilometer 90, the Col du Bonhomme at kilometer 118, the Col du Calvaire at kilometer 124, and, finally, at kilometer 138, the Collet du Linge (literally, “Laundry Hill”) — where writer Antoine Blondin would not have failed to write that the peloton finished “rinsed out.”

Because this stage, for sure, is a true pitfall. It plays out, we repeat, on difficult roads that give the advantage to the power players. So after a week of racing, who are they, these power riders, if not the men on form and, starting out, the favorites for the general classification?

For that matter, let’s look at the list of winners at Colmar that early Tour history reveals: André Leducq in 1931, Raphaël Geminiani in 1949, and, twice — in 1955 and 1957 — the colorful Roger Hassenforder, who had, according to his own expression, “two Bobets in each leg!” This time, we can imagine that an “Armstrong in each leg” would prove sufficient. In any case, if the favorites take command, the sprinters will get thrown out the window — and Hassen’ loved it when the sprinters were thrown out the window!