WHERE ARE WE?
We start the day in Rouen, and finish in St Quentin, which was voted “most sporting town in France” in a poll by L’Equipe, but is perhaps more notable for being the sister city of Rotherham, in South Yorkshire. David Millar used to live here, before he turned pro. St Quentin, not Rotherham.
WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
Extremely little, to be frank. Flat roads, as far as the eye can see, across the plains of Picardy.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
The same as yesterday, most likely. And the same as tomorrow. St Quentin is the middle layer of a triple-decker club sandwich of flat stages which will be dominated by the sprinters. Even as we write this in early June, we can foresee that a break of five riders, including one from FDJ, one from Vacansoleil, one from Cofidis, plus two who got there by accident, will go clear, then get caught on the run-in.
Beautiful fields of sunflowers. That’s if the view isn’t ruined by all those photographers getting photos of the peloton against fields of sunflowers.
WE’LL BE GORGING ON…
Ficelle picarde, a savoury crêpe stuffed with mushrooms and béchamel.
The sprint. It’s inevitable, so don’t fight it.
FORMER WINNERS IN ST QUENTIN
1938 Félicien Vervaecke
2006 Robbie McEwen
“I said to him, I’m going to talk you all the way through it, all you have to do is take out that earpiece, listen to me and do what I say. If it works out we’re both heroes. If it f*cks up it’s my fault.
“I started talking to Steegmans. I said, stay at the side and keep surfing the crest of the moving peloton. I’d say, move forward, move up, follow him, follow this guy, yep. Righto stay here, come out of the wind, stay in the wheels.
“This went on the whole way in. I said, don’t go until I tell you, and start your sprint at 400 metres exactly. As we came into the last kilometre we were quite far back, but I knew how strong he was.
“At 410 metres I shouted, ‘Go’ and he accelerated so fast that nobody could follow my wheel. As I came out of his wheel I took lengths out of everybody, all the way to the finish line. It was almost too easy, like being shot out of a cannon.
– St Quentin hosts the Tour for the third time, after appearing in the 1938 and 2006 events.
– In 1938, St Quentin hosted a time trial which was the second of three stages held on the penultimate day of the Tour. Félicien Vervaecke won it, and went on to finish second overall, almost 20 minutes behind Gino Bartali.
– This is the flattest stage of the Tour, with no classified climbs in this stage. It’s the only road stage of the 2012 Tour without any KoM points.
– Just before the peloton rides through the village of Aubigny, with 20 kilometres to go, they will complete their first 1,000 kilometres of the Tour.
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Maps courtesy of Amaury Sports Organisation