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The Saxo Bank Sungard team does a training session on the Tour's stage two team time trial parcours.
Collective test could prove decisive for Tour de France lead
One by one, the teams that have arrived in Western France for the Tour de France start on the Atlantic ocean have been reconnoitering the course of the team time trial scheduled for Sunday. The collective race against the clock could be decisive for a team to take the early overall lead in the event, and will put a first order in general classification.
American ProTeam Garmin-Cervélo is especially keen and wound up for stage two, as the 23km-course seems a perfect opportunity for the strong rouleurs to score their first Tour de France stage victory. Jonathan Vaughters and his men trained in Les Essarts on Tuesday, completing several laps of the course and fine-tuning their train.
"I had to make sure that our alignment is perfect and that the rider order we chose is the right one," Vaughters told L'Equipe.
Throughout the week, the argyle team was followed by more squads visiting the course which, even if it is only short, could mean a the yellow jersey. Rabobank trained on the course on Thursday morning, RadioShack, Leopard Trek, Omega Pharma-Lotto and Liquigas-Cannondale on Wednesday.
"It's a little too short for us," said RadioShack director Alain Gallopin. "It's a pity, as there will be no gaps and it will be more dangerous. The teams will take more risks," he feared.
The Luxembourg team around the Schleck brothers also completed two laps and time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara advised his teammates to ride closer to each other's wheels. "We have to tighten our line, leave less space to get more fluidity in the relays," he said. "We have to protect Andy and Fränk more."
Giro d'Italia team time trial winners HTC-Columbia already got a feel for the parcours in early June.