Stage 14 :: Saturday July 18, 2009
199km :: Colmar - Besançon
The riders get to stay put tonight, which is a good thing as it will probably take a while for them to dry off. No transfers is always a good thing, and the most important person on the team can rest easy tonight: the RV driver.
Tomorrow we skirt across the edge of Switzerland, but never go in. Although there's a lot of "-haus" and "-heim" type cities en route in stage 14, I can guarantee you that my CTRL+C and CTRL+V have been working overtime with the stage finish in Besançon. Don't think for second that I have any idea what the ASCII escape sequence is for a cédille. That's not to say, though, that I'm diacritical of the French language (vocabulary humor - catch the wave!).
To quote the great Scott Ostler: Deep Thoughts, Cheap Shots and Bon Mots on the flip...
When Moses was in Egypt land, let my Gavia goooooo...
Double the fun for the tifosi, this stage departs from Colmar where the previous stage finished. The Tour heads south through the Haut-Rhin region, and follows the trace of the French borders with Germany and Switzerland. There are two categorized climbs located about midway through the stage, but neither should cause anyone much difficulty. The finish on the boulevard Ouest in Besançon is flat and the stage should end with a sprint.
The Tour visits Besançon frequently, 17 times in recent memory. A long-time capital of the French watch-making trade, Besançon is the birthplace of Victor Hugo. Looking further back, Julius Caesar was fond of Besançon for its strategic importance during the Gallic Wars. For the fiction-readers, a portion of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black takes place in Besançon.
The Tour last visited Besançon in 2004 for a time trial. Lance Armstrong won the stage, his fifth of that Tour, ahead of Jan Ullrich and Andreas Klöden. The following day in Paris, the American celebrated his sixth straight Tour de France victory. The most recent road stage finish was in 1996, and Jeroen Blijlevens of TVM won on that occasion.
Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 14 Preview at Steephill.tv
If that was the last stage that Lance won in 2004, wouldn't that make it the Tour stage he's won ever? I don't recall him winning a stage in 2005. I also wonder if, regardless of his final GC placing, he will be invited to all the post Tour crits-for-cash. Anyway...
As Gavia noted above, I was premature in calling an end to the flat stages. Way wrong. There's a cool sort of valley run in here that will look sweet in helicopter shots, but beyond that, this is a Saturday morning snooze fest that will have competition for your attention with things like mowing the lawn.
We are on the border between France and Germany and Switzerland nearly all day, in fact, we brush within about 1km to Die Schweiz at Saint Dizier l'Évêque (and if you think I didn't Google and paste that name, your off your nut). There are two categorized climbs on the stage, both rated Cat.3: the Côte de Lebetain and the Côte de Blamont, both under 3km long and both under 5% average gradient. To make matters less interesting, they also both are completed with over 80km left to go. You're gonna need coffee for this one, friends.
The run in, she is straight. The run in, she is long. The run in, she is flat.
Hey, Cervélo, your stage is calling! Show us that Roll on, Columbia Roll On isn't a total dominating force.