Analysis by Jean-François Pescheux, Tour competition director: “This is basically a Flemish stage. The route takes in pieces of the courses used in races such as the Tour of Flanders, Ghent- Wevelgem and The Three Days of De Panne. But we’ve not gone looking for the bergs (hills) used in those events. The profile is very flat and the route is mostly dead straight. It’s a stage for the sprinters with a finish right in the centre of Ghent near the old velodrome. When thinking of a winner, you have to consider the Belgians, and I’d be astonished if Tom Boonen wasn’t set on either entering or leaving Flanders in the yellow jersey. But keep an eye on the wind; the stage runs close to the North Sea and that could cause some problems. The road also passes through the villages that have produced some great cycling names such as Freddy Maertens, the De Vlaemincks [Roger and Eric], Walter Godefroot and Boonen.”

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