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Avranches - Mont-Saint-Michel (ITT) 33 km
Time trial to the monastery
There's little doubt this will be one of the most stunning stages of the race, assuming the weather cooperates. The riders will almost be able to see their final destination as they head off down the start ramp. Over to the west lies the tidal island of Mont-Saint-Michel with its monastery and abbey. Connected to the mainland by a causeway, the second most popular tourist destination in France after the Eiffel Tower, it's a spectacular setting for the first of two mid-range individual time trials. This one should suit the specialists much more than the second in the Alps, as the roads are flat and straight. The riders also might appreciate a little wind to increase their power advantage. The roads on the final third are open, so if the wind gets up this is where it will have the most impact. Sky's Chris Froome will need to gain as much time as he can on his rivals; a two-minute gain on the specialist climbers would be very handy.
Nicolas Portal: "It starts off rolling gently up and down, there are some quite fast descents and a few tight corners.
"In our recon the wind was strong and mostly a headwind on the flat section towards the end. This will suit the TT specialists as it'll be quite tough. I think it could be good for Froome."
TTs in recent Tours have been either much shorter or much longer than this. The last equivalent test was at Chôlet in 2008, won by Stefan Schumacher, later disqualified. Cadel Evans, fourth that day, was the first GC rider. Damiano Cunego and Andy Schleck finished 59 seconds and 1:02 behind the Australian, respectively.
Maps and profiles courtesy of ASO
For more about this week's racing see Cycling News HD