Stage 3 - July 10: Antwerp - Seraing, 198.5 km

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By Tim Maloney, correspondent

For two-thirds of Tuesday's Stage 3, the parcours winds across the flat Belgian provinces of Antwerp and Limburg. The cool, overcast weather and southwest wind with three intermediate sprints may keep things together with Ag2r riding tempo for Maillot Vert Kirsipuu, but when Stage 3 enters Liege Province, the Ardennes climbs are near. In Fact, in the last 60 km, there are three Cat.3 KOM climbs and a final finishing ramp of 3 km up Boulevard Pasteur into Seraing. Could this be a perfect opportunity for Michele Bartoli (Mapei) to come back to winning form and grab his first Tour De France stage win?

Course Profile

Course description

Start time: 1205 CEST
Estimated finish time: 1714 CEST

The third stage takes the Tour into southeastern Belgium to the Ardennes. Again measuring 200 kilometres, the stage is unlikely to suit the sprinters. The proximity of several sharp climbs near the finish in Seraing (near Liege) should break up the bunch, as it is similar to the finish of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This is an important stage for the GC riders who will have to watch their rivals to ensure they don't sneak a few seconds in a break. Riders like Erik Dekker, Rik Verbrugghe, Francesco Casagrande, or Lance Armstrong should do well here.

Antwerp, with a 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 mostly Flemish speaking.

Seraing (pop. 60,838) is in the province of Liège on the Meuse River. It is a major centre of heavy industry.

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