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Tour de France Stage 1 Preview
Saturday, June 26
197.8km (rolling, hilltop finish)
Den of Wolves
With six categorized climbs including a hilltop finish, ASO has taken advantage of being in the hilliest, western part of Brittany for the Grand Départ. This opening stage of nearly 200 kilometers has almost 2,800 meters (9,000 feet) of vertical gain that’s sure to suit the puncheurs like Julian Alaphilippe, Mathieu van der Poel, Wout Van Aert, Marc Hirschi and Primož Roglič. They’ll need a good turn of speed to take the stage win at the top of the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups because the last few hundred meters are almost flat and dead straight. But the initial ramps are very hard, with a 14-percent pitch and an average of 9 percent. All the GC riders will have to fight hard not to lose any ground. The day’s route heads south from Brest down the coast, makes a turn north at Quimper and includes the infamous Stang Ar Garront hill at Châteaulin (site of an annual pro circuit race) before crossing the rolling Monts d’Arrée, which are prone to the formation of echelons if the prevailing southwest winds are blowing off the Atlantic Ocean. The finish climb, Fosse aux Loups, translates as “Den of Wolves” so perhaps a member of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team’s “Wolfpack” is destined to win—did anyone say Alaphilippe?
At La Fosse aux Loups, after 3km climb at 5.7 percent, on 19.6 feet-wide Route de St. Urbain.
SCHEDULE (all times EDT)
Ceremonial start, Parc à Chaînes, Brest: 6:10 a.m.; start in Plougastel-Daoulas (after 11.1km neutral to km0), 6:30 a.m.; Côte de Trébéolin (cat. 4, 189.2km to go), 6:42 a.m.; Côte de Rosnoën (Cat. 4, 170.7km to go), 7:09 a.m.; Côte de Locronen (Cat. 3, 136.3km to go), 7:58 a.m.; Poulzaff (feed zone, 98.7km to go), 8:51 a.m.; Côte de Stang Ar Garront (Cat. 4, 82.8km to go), 9:14 a.m.; Brasparts (sprint, 62.7km to go), 9:43 a.m.; Côte de Saint-Rivoal (Cat. 4, 47.1km to go), 10:05 a.m.; Landerneau, Côte de la Fosse aux Loups (Cat. 3, finish, 197.8km), 11:13 a.m.
Analysis by Thierry Gouvenou and John Wilcockson.