Stage 2 - July 9: Calais - Antwerp, 218.5 km

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With clearing weather for Monday's long stage to Belgium, and three sprints for time bonuses, look for a battle between Jan Kirsipuu (AG2R) and Stuart O'Grady to wrest the Maillot Jaune from Christophe Moreau.

Kirsipuu is 7" behind Moreau, while Stewy is only 11" in arrears. Belgian Tom Steels (Mapei-Quick Step) was out of the final today but will be looking to put Erik Zabel in his place on home turf.

Course Profile

Course description

Start time: 1210 CEST
Estimated finish time: 1713 CEST

The Tour de France enters Belgian territory on July 9 with a 200 kilometre flat stage from Calais to Antwerp. It avoids the feared cobbled climbs in southwestern Flanders by taking an eastward trajectory via Ichtegem, Knesslare and Stekene before finishing in the city of Antwerp. The winds may play an important role in this stage, which is likely to be quite fast. It has Tom Steels written all over it.

Calais has been a major commercial seaport with England since the Middle Ages. A major cross-channel ferry and hovercraft port, it is near the Channel Tunnel linking France with England. It was also the scene of a lot of conflict in World War II, specifically in 1940 and 1944.

Antwerp, with a greater population of 1,605,167 (1991) is one of Belgium's most important cities. It borders on the Netherlands in the north. It sits at the mouth of the Schelde River, which is a major route for canal traffic in Belgium. Antwerp is Flemish speaking.

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