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Tour Stage 5 Preview: Le Cap d'Agde - Perpignan 196.5 km

Stage 5 :: Tuesday July 7, 2009
196.5km :: Le Cap d'Agde - Perginan

Another flat stage is upon us; one for the sprinters.  We got our fill of action with that magnificent Team Time Trial on oil slick roads today, but a look at tomorrow's stage shows some rolling stuff with a pair of Category 4 climbs at the end, but nothing really breakaway worthy and since there haven't been any real mountains yet, I'm betting the sprinters want to taste some more blood before cashing in their chips.

Who will it be? Viking God of Smoke?  The man that could win the Isle of Man TT even on something other than a bike powered by an internal combustion engine?  Tommeke?  Or, my secret wish, Haussler?  Don't pay attention to anything I say, because I really have no idea what I'm talking about, so I'll pass the microphone off to the Princess of the Preview,  Principessa di Prognosticazzione, Gavia.

What you got for us Gav?

Another day, another lovely jaunt along the Mediterranean. It’s a mostly flat ride today departing from the seaside town of Le Cap d’Agde. There are only two categorized climbs on the menu, and they appear just outside Saint-Jean-de-Barrou at about the halfway point of the stage. After the climbs, the stage races along at nearly sea level for more than 70 kilometers. The stage finishes in the Place de Catalogne in Perpignan. A sprint finish is all but inevitable.

Le Cap d’Agde sits on the coast not far from Montepellier, which hosted the stage 4 team time trial. The Tour organizers have done well to minimize the transfers in this opening week of the Tour, which showcases France’s Meditarranean coast. Le Cap d’Agde sits at the base of an ancient volcano, mont Saint-Loup, and the coastline is decorated with black basalt rock formations. Like La Grande-Motte, Le Cap d’Agde was developed in the 1970s as a pleasure port and tourist destination. This year marks the first visit of the Tour de France to the town.

Perpignan, by contrast, has hosted a stage finish for the Tour de France on eight occasions since 1947. It has also hosted the départ nine times since 1947, for those keeping score at home. The most recent winner in Perpignan was French rider Laurent Desbiens of Cofidis during the 1997 Tour. The stage ran from Andorre to Perpignan, and Jan Ullrich of Deutsche Telekom held the race lead. In 2001, stage 12 began in Perpignan and Félix Cárdenas of Kelme celebrated victory on the Plateau de Bonascre. François Simon of Bonjour wore the leader’s jersey that day, thanks to a break during stage 8 that gained 35 minutes over the main field. François was the third of three Simon brothers to wear the Yellow Jersey during his career.

Courtesy of Gavia's Stage 5 Preview at

I'm going to keep the chatter to a minimum and just let you guys get to the commentary; the stage, she is flat.  I will point out, however, this little blurb from the official Tour website.

The stage is dedicated to Salvador Dali, who called the Perpignan railway station the “cosmogonic centre of the universe”. The icon of surrealism, who was touched by a form of fascination for the spectacle of cycling, created the 1959 Tour’s postcard. If his influence inspires the pack in the Corbières or along the seaside, anything will be possible.

Here we are at Coasty McCoastline, running north - south.

Big start down on the Agde Cape.

Chicken in Aspic with Nougat at Thezan des Corbières

Some mighty, mighty hills to climb.

And more flatness ensues all the way to the finish.

Nasty little right hander to get to the finish.

And yes, I made up the word "Prognosticazzione"