Stage 8 - July 15: Colmar - Pontarlier, 222.5 km

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By Tim Maloney

TDF weather is expected to be cloudy and cooler (mid 60's) once again as the unseasonable temperatures make the first week of the 2001 Tour De France a soggy affair. With a strong headwind from the southwest and few climbs down to the capital of the Departement of Doubs, Pontarlier, the Tour peloton may not feel much like riding under the cold rain on the third longest stage of Le Tour.

With the only real climb, the Cat 3 Cote de St. Hippolyte (8km at 5.1%) 66km from the finish, expect the sprinters teams to keep things together for a bunch blast into Pontarlier.



Start time: 1140 CEST
Estimated finish time: 1713 CEST

The second longest stage of the Tour de France is the 222.5 kilometre leg from Colmar to Pontarlier. It is comparatively flat, and should provide the sprinters with a good chance to contest the win. Only one 4th category and one 3rd category climb are scheduled, although the stage does climb to 808m by the finish.

Colmar is the capital of Haut-Rhin department in Alsace. It is connected by rail and canal to Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Basel in Switzerland. It became a free city of the Holy Roman Empire in 1226, and Louis XIV made it the capital of Alsace in 1673. Notable is the 800 year old Unterlinden Museum, which contains the Isenheim altarpiece by Mathias Grünewald and numerous other 15th century masterpieces.

The ski resort town of Pontarlier is located 100 kilometres or so north of the French Alps, where the Tour will head over the next few days. It last saw the Tour de France pass through in 1995.

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