First mountain stage of 2010 Tour de France gets underway
The seventh stage of the 2010 Tour de France, the first mountain stage of the race, got underway Saturday in the city of Tournus,dpa reported.
The relatively short 165.5-km course to the ski resort of Station des Rousses, in the Jura Mountains, will take the riders over six climbs of light to moderate difficulty.
The finish line is situated atop the last mountain after a climb of 14km at an average slope of 5 per cent.
The climbs are not difficult enough to inspire or discourage any of the favourites, but they will ensure that the stage does not end in a mass sprint to the finish, since sprinters are notoriously bad climbers.
It is an ideal stage for a rider who has no chance at the title but would love to score at least one stage win.
The weather will again be a factor, as France endures a third consecutive day of heat wave, with temperatures expected to go above 30 degrees Celsius again. In addition, thunderstorms are predicted for the last part of the stage.
The standings may be scrambled a bit after the stage, since some of the riders currently standing in the top 10 are not known as good climbers.
Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara led the standings at the start of the stage, 20 seconds ahead of Britain's Geraint Thomas, with Cadel Evans of Australia lying third, 39 seconds adrift.
Last year's Tour winner Alberto Contador of Spain is 1:40 behind, in ninth place, while seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong trails the leader by 2:30, in 18th place.