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Tour de Picardie starts today

The 59th edition of the three day, ASO organised Tour de Picardie begins today (Friday) with a 178 km stage between Montdidier and Fère-en-Tardenois. It finishes on Sunday with two half stages: 94.5 km between Feuquières and Fressenneville in the morning, followed by 81 km between Fressenneville and Mers-les-Bains in the afternoon. The general terrain is suited to flatlanders who can ride well in the wind.

The race is considered a "transition race" between the spring classics as the major stage races leading up to the Tour de France. As such, it will have six ProTour teams out of a total of 18 teams at the start. It will also mark the return of "Tornado" Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) to racing after a one month break. Boonen followed a similar plan last year and immediately won a stage in Picardie on his return.

The stages

Stage 1 - May 13: Montdidier - Fère-en-Tardenois, 178 km
Stage 2 - May 14: Château Thierry - Clermont, 192 km
Stage 3 - May 15: Feuquières - Fressenneville, 94.5 km
Stage 4 - May 16: Fressenneville - Mers-les-Bains, 81 km

Teams

Quick Step-Innergetic (Boonen, Cretskens), Davitamon-Lotto (Mattan, Roesems), Cofidis (Casper), Française des Jeux (Eisel, McGee), Bouygues Telecom, Crédit Agricole (D. Nazon, Bodrogi), Chocolade Jacques-T-Interim (Eeckhout, Caethoven), Landbouwkrediet-Colnago (Dierckxsens, Capelle), MrBookmaker-SportsTech (Gardeyn, Hunt, Vandenbroucke), Ag2R-Prévoyances (JP Nazon), Jartazi-Revor), Miche, Agritubel (Brard), RAGT-Sémences, Team LPR, Navigators, Bretagne-Jean Floc'h and Auber 93.

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