Analysis by Jean-François Pescheux, Tour competition director: “This is the longest stage of the Tour. It starts in Waregem, which is celebrating the half-centenary of its hosting of the World Championships, where Rik van Steenbergen beat Louison Bobet. The stage flirts with the route of Paris-Roubaix, but without venturing onto any of the cobbled sections from “The Hell of the North”. This is a fairly rolling stage but without any great difficulty. It does pay tribute to recently retired Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc, as there is a sprint near his home in Fontaine au Bois. Once again, the wind might be a factor on these Picardy plains, and that could lead to echelons forming. This stage also gives the escape artists their first realistic chance of breaking away and staying clear.”


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