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Stage three
Date: Tuesday, July 3
Start: Orchies
Finish: Boulogne-sur-Mer
Length: 197km
Type: Hilly

According to Christian Prudhomme, “the start of this stage will remind the riders of Paris-Roubaix” – a promise guaranteed to send a shiver down the collective spine of the peloton.

Fortunately, however, he meant only that the start town of Orchies is one the cobbled Classic passes through en route to Roubaix.

The stage is mercifully short of cobbles, but the climbs, loading the second half, make up for it.

There are five, with gradients as steep as 10 per cent, including a 700-metre ramp up to the finish in Boulogne-sur-Mer. As in Seraing two days earlier, it is a stage for the puncheurs.

Related links

Tour de France 2012: Coverage index