Cholet is the nightmare of the modern history of the Tour de France. The mayor Gilles Bourdouleix is Christian Prudhomme's brother in law. He wants the race to come to town every 10 years, but that's where the Festina affair became serious in 1998 with the arrest of sport director Bruno Roussel and doctor Eric Rijkaert.
The individual time trial in 2008 was won by Stefan Schumacher, who was eventually disqualified for doping. It's also where Riccardo Ricco returned a positive sample. Stage 3 is a 35.5km team time trial this time around. Cholet being in a basin, it starts with a hill at 4 to 5 per cent.
The villages of La Romagne and La Séguinière on the way back aren't flat either, but it's a mostly rolling course on which specialists Team Sky and BMC Racing can be at their ease. It's a decisive stage. Some climbers might never be able to make it up for the time lost in the former French capital of the handkerchief.