The first time trial

Short and fast around Cholet

The first time trial of this year's Tour comes earlier than usual, perhaps because of the absence of a prologue. 

The stage is also just over half the distance as usual, being just 29km long. The stage route, as well as being short, is very flat so – weather permitting – speeds should be high. The stage should appeal to the specialists, but gaps should be small so none of the favourites for the overall classification will be able to take too much time out of their rivals.

The Tour has visited Cholet just twice before, the last time when Dutchman Jeroen Bliijlevens (TVM) out-sprinted Italian Nicola Minali (Riso Scotti) and Ján Svorada (Mapei-Bricobi). By picking up time bonuses throughout the stage, Australian Stuart O'Grady (then GAN, now CSC) took the first maillot jaune of his career. The town sits on the banks of the Moine river and is most famous for the production of linen fabrics.

Route map from bikely.com

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