WHERE ARE WE?
The first long time trial of the race takes the riders on a 41-kilometre route to Besançon, which, aptly enough for a TT, is the major watch production centre of France.

WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
Flattish roads, although the middle 20 kilometres roll a little bit more. The high point on the route comes at Abbans-Dessus, the first checkpoint, which at 379 metres is 145 metres higher than the start in Arc et Senans. Two more drags bring the riders to the road alongside the Doubs river, to Besançon, where it’s more or less flat to the finish.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
At 41.5 kilometres, it’s starting to get towards being quite a long time trial, although not in comparison to the final test in Chartres. At 40 kilometres plus, time gaps start to magnify between the specialists and non-specialists, so it’s going to be interesting watching both groups either trying to limit their losses or maximise their gains. With a rest day to follow, there’ll be no point in holding back.

SCENERY
Beautiful wooded hills, then the route follows the Doubs river to Besançon.

WE’LL BE GORGING ON…
Vin jaune, Comté cheese and walnuts.

BEST BIT
Time trials shake up the GC in slow motion, so don’t miss any of the favourites’ rides.

PREVIOUS WINNERS IN BESANCON
1905 Hippolyte Aucouturier
1938 Marcel Kint
1947 Ferdi Kübler
1954 Lucien Tesseire
1957 Pierino Baffi
1958 André Darrigade
1960 Rolf Graf
1963 Jacques Anquetil
1964 Henk Nijdam
1968 Joseph Huysmans
1974 Patrick Sercu
1977 Jean-Pierre Danguiilaume
1988 Jean-Paul Van Poppel
1990 Olaf Ludwig
1996 Jeroen Blijlevens
2004 Lance Armstrong
2009 Serguei Ivanov

SPOTTER’S GUIDE

I WON HERE…IN 1996
Jeroen Blijlevens, Netherlands
“It was a long stage, nearly seven hours, but I remember there were lots of solo attacks in the final ten kilometres. Even in the final two kilometres Viacheslav Ekimov made a very good attack, but I was lucky because Telekom brought him back to set up the sprint for Erik Zabel. They rode very hard, and that controlled the bunch and strung it out. Frederic Moncassin led out the sprint, and I was close to his wheel but had space on my right, so I started my sprint, went around him and just won. It was very well timed.”

IN DEPTH
– Besançon hosts a stage finish for the 18th time. It was first used as a stage town in the third Tour, in 1905. That stage, the second of the race, featured the first climb over 1,000 metres used in the Tour, the Ballon d’Alsace.
– Three stages into Besançon have been TTs, and two of the winners went on to win the yellow jersey, Jacques Anquetil in 1963 and Lance Armstrong in 2004.
– There are 101 kilometres of individual time trialling in the 2012 Tour, the most since 2007. In 2011, there were only 42.5 kilometres of TTs. The biggest distance in the last 30 years was 1987, when there were 168km of individual TTs, including an 87-kilometre test, and a TT up Mont Ventoux.

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Maps courtesy of Amaury Sports Organisation