Le Tour 2007 - first time trial comes late in the race

For the second year in a row, the Tour will be missing the team time trial, much to the...

For the second year in a row, the Tour will be missing the team time trial, much to the disappointment of teams like T-mobile and Team CSC, who have dominated the event in the past. Team CSC's operations manager Carsten Jeppesen said on the team's website, "In 2006 we won four out of four team time trials, so of course we're extremely disappointed not to be given the opportunity to win one in next year's Tour." Tour director Christian Prudhomme said the event was left out because he felt it was disadvantageous to GC leaders who lack strong teams.

After the prologue in London, the first individual time trial comes relatively late in the race on stage 13, where riders will face a 54 kilometer course. This stage comes after two extremely challenging alpine stages, and will see some tired legs pushing off down the start ramp. Former world time trial champion Michael Rogers (T-mobile) noted on the team's website, "The time trial situation is interesting, no team event again this year and the first TT doesn’t come until stage 13; by then we will already have at least 2000 kms of racing in our legs, so that will make it extra tough."

The racers won't have to wait long to hit the mountains, with the alpine stages beginning on stage 7, a 197-kilometer journey from Bourg-en-Bresse to Le-Grand-Bornand, followed by the first of three uphill finishes on stage 8. The traditional alpine stage over the Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier follows the first rest day, on July 17. The alpine stages are challenging, but Prudhomme predicts the key stage could be stage 16, which finishes atop the Col d'Aubisque in the Pyrenees. "It reaches a crescendo in the Pyrenees," Prudhomme said. "This is the hardest stage of the Tour. If the rider in the yellow jersey is not ready then he'll be in a lot of trouble."

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