2011 Tour de France Route Analysis
This week, the parcours of the 2011 Tour de France was unveiled.
rolling stage that should end in a bunch sprint. Look for the sprinters to compete fiercely on what will be their last opportunity to win before the 2011 Tour reaches the Pyrenees.
Stage 12, a 209-km ride from Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden, will be the race's first Pyrenean stage. The riders will go over the Houquette d'Ancizan and the Col du Tourmalet before climbing to the finish at Luz-Ardiden. Look for the GC contenders to bare their fangs for the first time.
A long breakaway might win Stage 13. The 156-km ride from Pau to Lourdes will feature the Col d'Aubisque and the Col du Soulor, but the climbs will be too far from the finish to affect the outcome of the stage. Look for an escape on either the Aubisque or the Soulor.
The last Pyrenean stage will be the 2011 Tour's queen stage. Stage 14, a 168-km ride from Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille, will feature six categorized climbs, including the summit finish. Look for a battle on the final climb.
Stage 15 will take the riders away from the Pyrenees. The 187-km run from Limoux to Montpellier will end in a sprint finish. Look for a Cavendish, a Freire, or a Hushovd to win. The second rest day will follow this stage.
Stage 16 will move the riders into the foothills of the Alps. The rolling, 163-km ride from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap will be rolling and will probably end with a late stage break on the Col de Manse.
In Stage 17, a 179-km ride from Gap to Pinerolo, the riders will enter the Alps and Italy. The riders will ascend the Col de Montgenevre and the Col de Sestrieres before crossing the Italian frontier. They will tackle the Pra'Martino before descending to the finish.
In Stage 18, a 189-km ride from Pinerolo to Galibier Serre-Chevalier, the riders will reenter France. They will go over the Col Angel, the Col d'Izoard, and the Col du Galibier. The riders will scale the Galibier again the following day.
Stage 19 will be another Alpine climbing stage. The field will tackle the Col du Telegraphe and the Col du Galibier before taking on the 21 switchback turns leading to the summit of Alpe d'Huez. Stages 17 to 19 will be epic stages.
Stage 20 will be a 41-km individual time trial in and around Grenoble. It will feature two climbs, and while someone such as Fabian Cancellara might be the betting man's favorite, it is wise to remember that at the end of three-week tours, a rider who recovers well after hard stages such as those in the high mountains might surprise. The stage will present a final chance to move up a place or two on GC.
Stage 21, a flat, 160-km run from Creteil to Paris, will be a procession for the winner. The entry into Paris, however, will be the signal for the sprinters' teams to take over the stage. The stage usually ends in a bunch sprint, and it should this time. A Mark Cavendish, an Oscar Freire, or