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Tour Stage 12 Preview: Tonnerre - Vittel

Stage 12 :: Thursday July 16, 2009
211.5km :: Tonnerre - Vittel

Rollin', rollin', rollin',
Keep them stages rollin'
Rollin', rollin', rollin',

(Oh yeah... you heard it in your head, don't deny it.)

The stage tomorrow is definitely a true rolling, hilly stage with a passel of climbs en route: 5 x Cat.4 and 1 x Cat.3. This time, the Cat.4's don't look like the product of organizing committee bribes, but are actual significant hills, increasing in severity (I mean, it's all relative, they are still Cat.4's after all) until immediately after the final intermediate sprint when the inevitable breakaway is going to run headlong into the nasty, short, 11% Côte de Bourmont.

It's not the Koppenberg or the Muur van Geraardsbergen but it will give the sprinters something to gripe about.

Barkeep! What's on tap?

The Tour continues its eastward journey across central France with this stage running between Tonnerre and Vittel. The advantage shifts to the breakaways as the race climbs six categorized climbs. None of the climbs on the menu are especially difficult. The constant up and down should enable the attackers to elude capture and contest the stage victory. The general classification teams will need to remain vigilant to ensure that the wrong rider doesn’t sneak up the road and that the inevitable breakaway doesn’t run up the clock too far.

It’s a day of wine and water, as Tonnerre is famous for its white wine and Vittel for its mineral water. Tonnerre is a new start town for the Tour, which typically traces the outline of France, rather than cutting straight through the center of the Hexagon. Tonnerre sits astride a canal and retains many of its medieval buildings.

Vittel has hosted the Tour de France twice previously. The most recent stage finish came in 1990, when Jelle Nijdam won the stage, and Steve Bauer wore the Yellow Jersey. Vittel sits in the Lorraine region, near the Vosges mountains. The Romans enjoyed the thermal baths in Vittel, a practice that did not revive until the mid-nineteenth century.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 12 Preview at

Much thanks to Gavia for the description of the finishing route for the stage that she has written up in that preview as well.  It helped a lot in my efforts to map it out somewhat accurately.

Again, not much to explain for this one.  There will be balance between a breakaway fighting the rollers, and a peleton starting to think about pre-Alp tempo.  I suspect no one is going to want to shatter this one.

Here's a little more of an upclose look at the Cat.3 Côte de Bourmon, the only significant hill out on course tomorrow.