Six key stages call for a tour de force

STAGE 3
Monday 6 July: Antwerp-Mur de Huy 159.5km

Just one highlight in what could be the most nerve-racking first week the Tour has ever seen. The finish climb is short at only 1.3km but very steep, hitting 25% in one or two of its hairpin bends. It won’t be decisive in the context of the three weeks unless the Tour comes down to a handful of seconds, but it is the first key moment. The run-in to its foot will be vital, as the fight to hit the Mur at the front of the peloton will be desperate and there could well be crashes. On paper, it is one for Colombia’s Nairo Quintana or the Brit Chris Froome.

STAGE 4
Tuesday 7 July: Seraing-Cambrai 223.5km

After the Mur, it is on to the cobbles where the nerves will jangle some more and, unfortunately, there are bound to be pile-ups as the riders fight for the best position. If it rains, as in last year’s equivalent stage, all bets are off with punctures and crashes taking their toll. There are seven cobbled sections, the first a warm-up in Belgium 120km from the finish, but the serious stuff starts 46km from the finish. History suggests Alberto Contador (Spain) or Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) has the best chance here of the four favourites.

Tour de France 2015 route

STAGE 9
Sunday 12 July: Vannes-Plumelec 28km team time trial


Impossible to predict on paper because so much depends on how the riders in each of the teams survive the opening eight days. Teams who have lost riders to the inevitable crashes will automatically be at a disadvantage on a longer, harder course than is usual in team time trial stages. What is certain is that one or two favourites, possibly more, will be on the back foot after this, if not out of the reckoning. But who? That is almost totally in the laps of the gods.

STAGE 10
Tuesday 14 July: Tarbes-La Pierre Saint-Martin 167km

A proper set piece with a substantial mountain to finish after a rolling run-in. This will give a clear idea of the frontrunners who have got through the opening nine days in a decent position. Often, however, the sudden transition from rolling at 50km/h on the flat to climbing at half the speed comes as a surprise, so the hierarchy should become clear here. It is the kind of finish Team Sky have come to specialise in, so it should be a target for Froome.

STAGE 19
Friday 24 July: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne-La Toussuire/ Les Sybelles 138km

The toughest Alpine stage, climbing from the gun, and with a brutal finale over the Col de la Croix de Fer before the lengthy ascent to the finish, where controversy ignited around Froome and fellow Brit Bradley Wiggins in 2012. Two days out from Paris and on the third consecutive day of climbing in the Alps, you would expect the yellow jersey here to be in the driving seat even if lower-placed climbers contest the stage win.

STAGE 20
Saturday 25 July: Modane Valfréjus-Alpe d’Huez 110.5km

With only the Champs-Elysées to come, for once the saying that whoever wears yellow at the Alpe will wear it in Paris is bound to be true. What the organisers hope will be the grand finale, going over the Croix de Fer in the opposite direction to the previous day before hitting the Tour’s toughest mountain-top finish. A stage short enough to encourage any favourite within reach of the lead to gamble on attacking from the start. Given the volume of climbing in such a short distance, this has Quintana’s name on it. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Covid-19 red cards major events

Sporting events, from football and tennis to rugby and cycling, on this year’s calendar are in doubt

JOBURG CYCLISTS … CALL TO ACTION

We will meet the MEC Transport Joburg to hand over a document about the advantages of non- motorised transport and the safety of cyclists

The most bizarre cheats in sporting history

Doping bridge players? Cyclist gangs? Some competitors will go to any lengths to win

Billionaire buys Team Sky

The head of a multinational chemicals group has ridden to the rescue of the cycling group

Pedal power with the people

Cycling to work is healthy, cuts carbon emissions and is for everyone, rich or poor

Slice of life: Reading, the balm to pain

'I know we won’t reach everyone, but the one village we reach, the one community, is better than nothing'
Advertising

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

See people as individual humans, not as a race

We need to ingrain values of equality in education, businesses, society broadly and religious groups to see people

JJ Rawlings left an indelible mark on Ghana’s history

The air force pilot and former president used extreme measures, including a coup, enforced ‘discipline’ through executions, ‘disappearances’ and floggings, but reintroduced democracy

Sudan’s government gambles over fuel-subsidy cuts — and people pay...

Economists question the manner in which the transitional government partially cut fuel subsidies

Traditional healers need new spaces

Proper facilities supported by well-researched cultural principles will go a long way to improving the image and perception of the practice of traditional medicine
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…