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July 23, 2005
Course: Time-trial courses don’t come much tougher than this one. From downtown St.-Etienne, the course heads north toward a 7km climb through the village of St. Héand and into the Lyonnais hills. The first time check (17km) is close to the day’s high point at 2769 feet elevation (more than 1000 feet above the start) along a twisting ridge road. Around half-distance, a tortuousdescent drops to the village of St.-Romain-en-Jarez at 1598 feet before a 5km Cat.3 climb lifts the riders back up to 2454 feet at the Col de la Gachet (40km) for the second time split. The final 15km heads down a narrow, winding descent and then back into St.-Etienne on city streets.
History: Just beyond the summit of the Col de la Gachet, the course passes a monument erected in memory of Andreï Kivilev, the French-based Kazakh rider killed in a crash in the 2003 Paris-Nice whose family still lives in the area. Jan Ullrich won the major time trial during his winning 1997 Tour on a course that looped into the hills south of St.-Etienne.
Favorites: Armstrong, who did one of his best time trials on a course that used some of these same roads at the 2003 Dauphiné Libéré, will want to end his final Tour with a win. He’ll likely have a hard battle against Ullrich and perhaps Basso and Mayo.