Stage 2: Les Essarts (TTT) -
Early test for the favourites
Measuring just 23km and on flat roads all the way, this team time trial test is designed to split up the contenders for the yellow jersey but not to the point where any of them end up totally out of contention. The equivalent stage run over 19.3km on the opening day of May's Giro d'Italia ended with just 73 seconds separating HTC in first place and Euskaltel in last. On that basis the gap between top and bottom today shouldn't be as much as two minutes, but that same Giro stage also suggests that euskaltel leader Samuel Sánchez is likely to be the main loser here.
Distance: 23 km
Highest point: 76m
Category: Team time-trial
Vin Denson says...
"It's a great spectacle, even though it's short and flat. It won't make any major difference unless somebody crashes. Garmin and Liquigas are in the frame but I wouldn't look beyond HTC. They're super-powerful and they'll be really motivated…"
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