We’re now just a few days away from the official start of the 2010 Tour de France, which will get underway on Saturday with an 8.9km (5.5 mile) prologue in Rotterdam. Following that fast and furious start, things will really get interesting, as Stage 1 is a 223.5km (138.8 mile) ride from Rotterdam to Brussels in celebration of Eddy Merckx’s 65th birthday. While traditionally these opening stages are tailor made for the sprinters to shine, the high winds that are expected across the Belgian countryside could tear the peloton apart, and contenders had better not get caught out if their is a split.
Things don’t get much easier on Stage 2, which is 201km (124.8 mile) ride from Brussels to Spa that will offer a few climbs to test the riders early on. While none of the big names, such as Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, or Lance Armstrong will falter on those hills, they will eliminate the sprinters from contention early on. Generally speaking some fairly obscure rider takes the Yellow Jersey in the first week and holds on to it until the real mountain stages appear later in the Tour.
Riders shouldn’t take Stage 3 for granted either, as it features more than 13km (8 miles) of riding over the always tricky cobblestones. Most of the riders hate the stages that pass over cobblestone roads, as they are rough to ride on and can be quite tricky. More than one rider has crashed on those roads, ending their tour early.
The tale of the tape for this year’s tour includes one prologue, nine flat stages, six mountain stages (including three summit finishes) with 25 category 1, 2 or higher climbs. There are also two rest days built into the schedule as well, and eleven towns that are new to the Tour this year.
Outside Online has posted a few interesting tidbits to keep in mind heading into the tour as well. They have an article entitled Rules of the Road that offers six items to be aware of as the race unfolds, including top Twitter accounts to follow, thoughts on the Green Jersey, and more.
Finally, a few days back, Lance Armstrong announced on his Twitter feed this will indeed be his final Tour de France. Sure, we’ve heard that from Lance before, but I have a feeling that he really means it this time. He has also confirmed that he’ll be riding in the Leadville 100 on August 14th, because he didn’t stomp the course well enough last year.
That’s it for now. Expect more Tour updates in the next few days, and of course regular coverage once the race is underway. It is shaping up to be a fun one to watch.
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