The puncheurs' day in the sun?
The debate about when to take the Tour to Corsica has been going on since the mid-1980s but only recently did these discussions become more substantial. ASO had long known it would be hard to spend just a single day on Corsica given the logistical difficulties of transporting the race infrastructure to and from the island - resulting in this year's three-day Grand Départ.
Impetus for the project has come both from Tour director Christian Prudhomme and his long-time Corsican friend Pierre Cangioni, who gave the Tour boss his first job in TV. Cangioni will be particularly pleased with this stage, since it takes in the Vizzavona climb on his home patch. The race is likely to break up here, and perhaps even before.
The GC contenders will need to be careful not to get caught out. Expect puncheurs to be prominent too, especially on the Côte du Salario, just 12km from the finish. When the lead group reaches Ajaccio, it could be very small indeed, with few sprinters likely to be in evidence.
Nicolas Portal: "A lot will depend on who's in yellow. If it's Cav, he may find this stage too hard so his team won't try to control it. These are not big mountains, but the GC riders will want to be at the front and the tension will be high. Someone could lose the Tour on this stage or the next one."
Could Corsica provide a platform for the relaunch of Andy Schleck's Grand Tour career? Elder brother Fränk won the Critérium International here in 2011, while 2010 Tour champion Andy has undertaken detailed reconnaissance of these stages, revealing they are likely to be much tougher than many riders suspect.
Maps and profiles courtesy of ASO
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