Stage 6 - July 13: Commercy - Strasbourg, 211.5 km

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By Tim Maloney

A long transition stage across the up and down wheatfields of Lorraine with a steep (7.9%) 4 km climb of the Col du Donon with 58km to race will have a a tailwind and weather wise should have cool temperatures and some sprinkles, but no rain like today.

Superstitious riders may fear Friday the 13th, but for Stuart O'Grady, the cards will likely turn in his favor. With the final climb over 50km from the finish, a small break of riders could get away on the Col du Donon, but if any menace O'Grady's jersey, the CA boys may have to chase, chase, chase to earn their pate de fois gras appetizers in Strasbourg.



Start time: 1210 CEST
Estimated finish time: 1724 CEST

Le Tour heads towards the German border today with a 211 kilometre road stage from Commercy to Strasbourg. The major difficulty of the stage is the 727m Col du Donon (km 153) which is classed as a category 2 climb. However, with 60 kilometres of descent to follow it may mean that the sprinters can regroup.

Strasbourg (1990 pop. 255,931) is the capital of the Bas-Rhin department in northeastern France and is considered the "intellectual and commercial capital of Alsace." It lies on the Ill river near its junction with the Rhine, and has industries ranging from nuclear research to beer to music. What more could you want?

Strasbourg has a long history dating back to Roman times. It became a part of the Holy Roman Empire in 923. Later, medieval German literature reached its height in Strasbourg with Gottfried von Strassburg. It is possible that Johann Gutenberg's printing press may have been invented there in the 15th century. Strasbourg was severely damaged by the Thirty Years War (1618-48) and later supported the French Revolution, after which it became increasingly French. Goethe spent a lot of his early career in Strasbourg.

Strasbourg was ceded to Germany after the Franco-Prussian war in 1871, but was recovered by France in 1919 following World War I. It was occupied by the Germans and badly damaged in World War II. After the war, the city expanded and in 1967 some 30 neighboring towns were absorbed into a new Community of Strasbourg. Strasbourg is now also the seat of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Union's European Parliament.

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