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Tour Stage 3 Preview: Marseille - La Grande-Motte

Stage 3 :: Monday July 6, 2009
196.5km :: Marseille - La Grande-Motte

More rolling terrain with lots a passel of 100m and 200m bergs to blunder up. It's Thursday evening and the traffic out to Redlands is choked with some mighty, mighty, Los Angeles holiday traffic (delayed publishing is a beautiful thing) so I'll endeavor to punch out this stage preview with something between lassitude and alacrity.

This is a trip along the sea coast, again. Going from Marseille in the east and heading west along the coast around the Gulfs of Fos and Beauduc to end at La Grande-Motte, which according to the Babelfish means "The Big Mound". Perhaps, one of these days, ASO will finally pay homage to something significant and end a stage in La Grande-Lebowski.

Never fear, traffic ain't so bad that I can't take a moment to steal borrow purloin quote directly from Gavia...

Marseille has frequently played host to the Tour de France. The most recent visit came in 2007 when Cédric Vasseur then riding for Quick Step won stage 10 after a long breakaway. After departing Marseille, the stage passes through Camargue region, an area of marshes and lakes which forms the Rhône River delta. The wetlands of the Carmargue are home to 400 species of birds, including the Flamingo. Little wonder this region is known as the "French Florida." There can be wind in this area, but generally it is not overly strong.

The stage finishes in La Grande-Motte, a resort city best known for its pair of pyramid-shaped hotels and boasting 300 days of sun each year. The Tour de France last visited La Grande-Motte in 1969. Belgian rider Guido Reybrouck, riding for the Faema team, won the stage, while Eddy Merckx wore the Yellow Jersey of race leader.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 3 Preview at

If "Guido Reybrouck" isn't a Steven Seagal character waiting to be created, I'm off my nut.  Anyway, Marseille, come on down, you're the next contestant on The Price Is Right!


From Marseilles, we head southward to Le Rove, which is French for "Turd Blossom".  Then bend around and come back up to Pennes-Mirabeau, before heading out and up to the day's first traguardo volante.


Once the sprinters have had their way with La Fare-les-Oliviers, it's up the massive Côte de Calissanne, 126m. then on down to Eyguières.  That's something I forgot about making stage previews for the Tour.  Accents.  Not so difficult a task with the Giro, but hell on the English keyboard during Lè Tôur.


The second sprint of the day is in Mouriès, followed by a jinkitty-jink up from Maussane-les-Alpilles up to the Col de la Vayède, 183m.  Once over that massive summit, it's down to the place du gourmond [I'm just making this stuff up now :) ] in Paradou.


Bellies full of what I can only imagine is Chicken in Aspic with a nice Côtes du Rhône, it's off to the final intermediate in Arles, then a swift run back to the coast to end the stage in the Town of Big Mound.