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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

91st Tour de France - July 3-25, 2004

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Stage 10 - Wednesday July 14: Limoges - St Flour, 237 km

By Tim Maloney, European editor in Gueret

Lance Armstrong (US Postal Service)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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A massive stage across the Massif Central is on the menu for Quatorze Juillet with not a meter of flat all day. This stage was used for L'Etape du Tour a few days ago and the most optimistic time schedule for Stage Ten calls for six and a half hours of racing across the unrelenting climbs of Cantal. One Cat 1, two Cat 2 and five Cat. 3 ascents are on Wednesday's program, which is expected to be run as Quatorze Juillet stages always are, in front of huge crowds out to celebrate France's national fête du velo on France's national holiday.

With the absence of the extreme heat of last July, the difficult parcours should cause less selection than usual, but the double barreled ascent of the steep, narrow road up the Col du Pas de Peyrol-Le Puy Mary (8.3km/5.5% avg. grade) after 173km, then the final Cat 3 climb of the day after 189 km, followed by the Col du Prat du Bouc-Le Plomb du Cantal (8.2km/6% avg. grade) after 205.5 km will surely do some damage.

The last 31km of Stage 10 are all rolling downhill towards Saint Flour, which may cause some regrouping on the run-in. Can maillot jaune Thomas Voeckler and his well baked Brioches la Boulangère squad withstand the onslaught of attacks that are sure to come from teams like Phonak, Illes Balears and Liberty Seguros, who are looking to put the first pressure on Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich in this year's Tour De France? Although the Quatorze Juillet will start with a Frenchman in the maillot jaune, Wednesday evening may see Jose Gutierrez of Phonak or his teammate Santos Gonzalez changing jerseys.


Km 67: Col de Lestards, 7 km at 4.7%
Km 162: Col de Néronne, 8.3 km at 3.5%
Km 173.5: Col du Pas de Peyrol, 5.5 km at 8%
Km 205.5: Plomb du Cantal, 8.2 km at 6%

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