Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

2015 Tour de France Route: Initial Reaction Stages 1-9

Overall Stats:

3,344 km
3 Countries
26 Departments

Stage Distribution
9 Flat
3 Hilly
7 Mountain (5 Summit Finishes)
1 ITT - 13.7km
1 TTT - 28km

26 Climbs rated category 2, 1, or HC
Time bonuses for top 3 finishers
        -10", 6", 4"
        -Only awarded during first week

July 4th, Stage 1 Utrecht – Utrecht 13.7 km Individual Time Trial

            The Grand Depart of the 2015 Tour de France is in the town of Utrecht in The Netherlands. The opening stage is one for the TT specialists and it should be a quick affair being only 13.7km in distance. It is not a prologue because it is over the 8km max distance for a prologue. The profile for the TT is flat, but since it is around the city it could include some tricky corners the riders may need to be aware of.

July 5th, Stage 2 Utrecht – Zelande 166 km

            According to the official Tour de France website,, the finish of stage two will be “in the sea” at the Zelande Port. On paper this looks to be a worry free sprint day, but as the first road stage of the Tour the nerves in the peloton will be running high. The route of the day will follow the parcours of the World Port Classic a race famous for echelons. This region is quite known in the cycling world for its cross winds, so be on the lookout for the team of Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, who are known for driving the pace and splitting the peloton when crosswinds become present.

July 6th, Stage 3 Anvers – Mur de Huy 154 km

            Stage 3 of the 2015 Tour de France marks the progression from the host country of the Grand Depart to France where the race is won. The Tour moves from The Netherlands to Belgium through the Antwerp region and while the Tour cannot be won on this stage it can definitely inflict wounds on those who have aspirations. The stage finishes atop the Mur de Huy, made famous by the three ascents riders tackle in the Ardennes Classic Fleche Wallonne. Though, on this occasion riders will only need to ascend the Mur once. Positioning will be key coming into the narrow 1.3km climb. It will be very easy to lose up to 30 seconds getting caught up in traffic as the slope pitches upwards (26% on one bend!). Look for the GC riders to rub shoulders with one-day specialists on this storied slope.

July 7th, Stage 4 Seraing – Cambrai 221 km, 13.3 km (7 sectors) of Cobblestones

            They’re back. Even after this year’s completely epic stage by viewing standards, but horrendous stage by rider’s standards the cobblestones are back in the Tour de France for a second straight year. The stage starts in the town of Seraing in the Liege Province before conversing to cobblestones made famous in Paris-Roubaix. The first sector comes after about 100km of racing, and the last sector comes with about 10km left in the stage. The Tour finally reaches its home country of France shortly after the first sector. The finish is a little farther from the last sector than it was this year so the GC favorites could limit their losses a little bit. The Tour de France has shown it is not afraid to make bold decisions, with the Mur de Huy the day before, there is nearly a guarantee one favorites dream of a yellow jersey will be gone.

July 8th, Stage 5 Arras – Amiens 189 km
            After two very hectic days the GC men will be able to relax a little bit as the sprint trains go to battle. Stage five should be a very straightforward day and should end in a mad dash to the line, but nothing is predictable at the Tour de France. The last time the Tour finished in Amiens was in 1999 and one Mario Cipollini took his 2nd of 4 successive stage wins that year. A win here could get the wheel rolling for a sprinter the next couple of days.

July 9th, Stage 6 Abbeville – Le Havre 191 km

            Stage 6 will bring the beautiful pictures of the Tour de France as we know and love. The course will traverse the Normandy coast as the race makes its way to the region of Brittany. For the riders though it will not be so pleasant. A ride along the coast most likely means a ride in the crosswinds. As stated earlier crosswinds can shred the peloton in a matter of seconds and create gaps of minutes. I would expect to see a reduced bunch sprint for line in Le Havre.

July 10th, Stage 7 Livarot – Fougeres 190 km

            The road to Fougeres should be status quo for the riders, assuming there is such a thing at the Tour de France. The stage is inland meaning crosswinds should be an issue. The GC teams will look to relax a little with the first summit finish coming the next.

July 11th, Stage 8 Rennes – Mur de Bretagne 189 km

            This is where the “real” Tour begins. Sprinters and classic specialists move aside because now it is time for the mountain goats to stretch their legs. The race is now in the heart of the cycling loving region of Brittany. The Mur de Bretagne marks the first summit finish of the 2015 Tour. It is not a long climb at 2km, but has many pitches above 15%. The Tour last visited the Mur in 2011 and is where Cadel Evans famously beat Alberto Contador in a photo finish. This stage victory laid the groundwork for Cadel’s overall victory in 2011. The gaps will not be big at the top, but after a difficult week to start the Tour the climb could be a shock to the system for some.

July 12th, Stage 9 Vannes – Plumelec 28 km Team Time Trial

            The Team Time Trial (TTT), an event that according to Lance Armstrong “is one of the hardest things we, [the riders], do at the Tour.” This year’s TTT comes the day after the first “true” summit finish of the 2015 Tour de France and before the first rest day. It draws to a close the race’s time in northern France as the race travels down to the Pyrenees to spend the rest day in Pau. The TTT has brought us many epic battles among the teams of the Tour. Last time the TTT was included in the Tour it became a showdown between Omega Pharma and Orica-GreenEdge with the latter winning by less than a minute. Christian Prudhomme has confirmed the Cote de Cadoudal will come at the end of the stage, but it has not been specified whether the stage will finish atop the climb. The Cote de Cadoudal is short at just 1.3km in length, but averages 6%.

July 13th, Rest Day in Pau

            The first week of the Tour is brutal with drama expected nearly everyday, just the way the organizers like it.

*stage cities, distances, and profiles gained from watching Tour presentation on and from

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