Rygtemøllen er i fuldt gang ang. Touren 2007! Puy de Dome, Besancon og Ventoux er oplagte udflugtsmål for mig. Fedt, hvis Puy de Dome igen kommer med!
Saturday, July 7: London Prologue TT (8km)
The prologue starts right in the center of London, goes past Downing Street (residence of Britain´s Prime Minister), the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace (residence of Queen Elizabeth II). The course then climbs Constitution Hill, passes through Wellington Arch and loops around The Serpentine, a lake in Hyde Park, before heading back downhill to the Victoria Monument and on to the finish on The Mall, with Buckingham Palace as the back drop. The locals will be cheering for British stars David Millar and Brad Wiggins, whose main challengers should include world TT champ Fabian Cancellara, Dave Zabriskie. Brad McGee, Thor Hushovd and George Hincapie.
Sunday, July 8: Stage 1, London-Canterbury (209km)
Stage 1 starts at the prologue finish line on The Mall and crisscrosses the Thames River on its way past St. Paul´s Cathedral and the Tower of London, before heading east out of the metropolis through Greenwich. It passes the 1000-year-old Rochester Castle, and loops through the county of Kent via Tunbridge Wells - where tens of thousands of spectators watched the Tour pass by in 1994, the last time the race was in England - to Canterbury, where the finish is within sight of the historic cathedral. The Tour´s first field sprint is always tumultuous; maybe Tom Boonen will get it right this time.
Monday, July 9: Stage 2, Dunkirk-Ghent (197km)
This stage along the English Channel coast into Belgium and across the Flanders plain is likely to be flat and very fast, similar to the one from Calais to Antwerp won by homeboy Marc Wauters in 2002. The wind will be a factor, like it is in the Ghent-Wevelgem spring classic, so a breakaway led by a local like Nick Nuyens may succeed.
Tuesday, July 10: Stage 3, Waregem-Compiègne (195km)
It´s rumored that there will be some Paris-Roubaix pavé on this stage that heads south out of Belgium to the French city where Paris-Roubaix starts. Compiègne is well south of the cobblestones, so expect the peloton to regroup before a mass field sprint between men like Boonen, Alessandro Petacchi and Robbie McEwen.
Wednesday, July 11: Stage 4, *Villers-Cotterêts- **Épernay TTT (65km)
The team time trial should be back after a year´s absence on a reverse of the 2002 TTT that started at Épernay when Laurent Jalabert´s CSC team just lost to Spanish squad ONCE. There are rolling roads for the first 45km until flat roads lead to the finish. Can CSC win this time, or will Discovery Channel or T-Mobile have the power to be the fastest?
Thursday, July 12: Stage 5, **Châlons-sur-Marne-*Joigny (180km)
This rolling stage through the Champagne region to the northwestern edge of Burgundy could be similar to an early stage of Paris-Nice - without the freezing temperatures! A late breakaway could succeed, but expect another field sprint.
Friday, July 13: Stage 6, **Auxerre-**Vichy (225km)
This is a transitional stage with mostly long, flat roads heading into the French heartland - mass sprint guaranteed. Perfect for Petacchi.
Saturday, July 14: Stage 7, **Vulcania-*Puy de Dôme TT (40km)
The abrupt climb (6km at 12 percent) that corkscrews up the extinct Puy-de-Dôme volcano is a Tour epic, but it hasn´t been visited by the race since 1988. It´s said that the modern Tour has outgrown the narrow dead-end climb; but a time trial is still a possibility. If it happens expect L´Alpe d´Huez-size crowds on this Bastille Day. The possible stage start, Vulcania, is a volcanic theme park opened in 2002 and in need of a publicity boost. Thu uphill TT will give a first indication of who is going to challenge for the yellow jersey - it would be a perfect course for Cadel Evans, or Ivan Basso if he is around.
Sunday, July 15: Stage 8, *Clermont-Ferrand-**St. Etienne (200km)
The Tour´s second weekend is likely to conclude with a hilly stage across the Massif Central that is conducive to breakaways. It´s a holiday weekend so a rider like Frenchman Thomas Voeckler could succeed.
Monday, July 16: Rest day at *Chambéry
The first rest day is almost always on the second Monday of the race; if not, this could be a first mountain stage that might end with the famous trilogy of Chartreuse climbs: Porte, Cucheron and Granier.
Tuesday, July 17: Stage9, *Chambéry-Briançon (205km)
Assuming Monday is going to be a rest day, this stage would be the first major climbing day of the Tour, with the classic alpine climbs of the Madeleine, Télégraphe and Galibier. If so, the question will be whether the strongest on the Puy-de-Dôme will be the best over the Galibier - which always catches out those riders who are not 100 percent.
Wednesday, July 18: Stage 10, Tallard-Marseille (208km)
With a start from just south of Gap, this looks like being a straightforward stage for the sprinters, who should still have most of their support riders ready to close done the breaks.
Thursday, July 19: Stage 11, *Marseille-*Mont Ventoux (or **Carpentras) (210km)
Mont Ventoux is one of the toughest climbs in France, and coming a day after the Alps it will keep the excitement of the race at boiling point before entering the Pyrenees three days later. Rabobank´s Denis Menchov has won here twice in the Dauphiné Libéré, while Discovery´s new leader, Levi Leipheimer, is always strong on this mountain. There´s a possibility that the stage finish will be in nearby Carpentras, which would give some riders a chance to catch back after the climb.
Friday, July 20: Stage 12, **Avignon-**Agde (170km)
This looks like being a flat, fast transitional stage along the coastal plain of the Mediterranean. It should be favorable to the sprinters, although the heat in the south could favor a breakaway. Another win for McEwen?
Saturday, July 21: Stage 13, **Narbonne-Toulouse (154km)
A similar stage in 2003 went to the Spanish racer Juan Antonio Flecha, who made a late attack from a breakaway group. Look for a repeat.
Sunday, July 22: Stage 14, Castres-*Plateau de Beille (210km)
The only stage winners atop the Plateau de Beille have been Lance Armstrong (twice) and Marco Pantani, each of whom went on to win the Tour. Expect the same this time, especially as an early selection will be made over the mighty Port de Pailhès climb. All the big guns, including Alejandro Valverde, Alexander Vinokourov, Evans and Leipheimer, should be in action.
Monday, July 23: Foix-Loudenvielle (170km)
Not a mountaintop finish, but this stage looks like having a series of difficult Pyrenean climbs, including one new to the Tour, the frightening Port de Balès. This is a very narrow, twisting 18km uphill, with the last 10km having an average grade of almost 10 percent. It precedes the Col de Peyresourde just before the last downhill to the finish. Perfect terrain for another battle royal.
Tuesday, July 24: Rest day at *Pau
After days of intense racing, everyone will be ready for a rest.
Wednesday, July 25: Stage 16, *Pau-Gourette (Aubisque) (155km)
Only four days from the Tour finish, this final stage with a summit finish could see a spectacular showdown. It includes the extremely steep climb over the Marie-Blanque before heading up the longest, steepest side of the mythic Col d´Aubisque. Evans will be looking for the stage win.
Thursday, July 26: Stage 17, *Tarbes-** Villeneuve-sur-Lot (180km)
The rolling terrain of the Armagnac region is perfect for breakaways, especially when a weary peloton is reluctant to chase.
Friday, July 27: Stage 18, ** Villeneuve-sur-Lot -Angoulême (180km)
The beautiful roads through the Dordogne area give this stage a similar feel to the one in which Armstrong took his famous solo victory at Limoges in the 1995 Tour, a few days after his Motorola teammate Fabio Casartelli died.
Saturday, July 28: Stage 19, Cognac-Angoulême Time Trial (50km)
This closing time trial, on up-and-down country roads through the world´s most famous brandy-producing region, could see another showdown to determine the Paris podium. Will Floyd Landis be there again, or can we expect a close fight between Valverde, Vinokourov, Evans and Leipheimer?
Sunday, July 29: Stage 20, Marcoussis-Paris (160km)
The traditional loop through the southern suburbs of the French capital precedes eight ultra-fast laps around the Champs-Élysées. A McEwen-Boonen-Hushovd sprint would be a perfect finish to what looks like being another unpredictable Tour.
"Figa, il Gasba solo 2,8 mln...anche se è uno stronzo ne vale almeno il doppio."