Tuesday, July 9. Cholet-Châteauroux, 232km

What will happen?
After getting it hopelessly wrong for the past couple of days, we’re a little frightened to say! Monday’s stage definitely didn’t end in the anticipated bunch sprint and yesterday’s Cholet time trial was a real turn-up for the books. The hottest favourite since Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup final, the surest thing since, er, Roger Federer at Wimbledon… Big Fab went and made us look a little silly. We shan’t be counting our chickens until they are hatched now… for fear of getting egg on our face [that’s enough rubbish egg jokes – Ed]

Today, though, is the longest stage of the race – 232 kilometres from Cholet to Chateauroux. It’s pretty flat too, with no categorised climbs. Definitely a sprint. Or a break.

So, are you going to make any predictions or not?
Okay, okay. If we absolutely have to, we reckon Thomas Voeckler will keep the king of the mountains jersey. How’s that for ace punditry?

With no climbs en route it’s hardly Nostradamus is it?
Okay… it will be a bunch sprint. So far there has been only one proper sprint finish (the one Hushovd won on Sunday) and there are two very tricky days in the Massif Central to come. Then there’s only the Toulouse stage before the Pyrenees. So the sprinters won’t want to let a chance slip. This is also the third of the four stages Mark Cavendish pinpointed as potentially winnable.

Will Schumacher stay in yellow?
Barring disaster, yes. There are no time bonuses, remember, so if the bunch all finishes together, Schumacher will take the jersey into Thursday’s hilly stage. Kim Kirchen’s lead in the green jersey competition could be under threat if Hushovd wins, though. With Super-Besse coming up, we can’t see the Team Columbia rider clashing elbows with the real fastmen again.

By the way, what’s the deal with Wim Vansevenant?
He just likes being last! The Belgian Silence-Lotto rider was Lanterne Rouge in 2007 and 2006. And he’s last overall already, the crazy fool. And he’s opened up a healthy lead of 2-10 over the next nearest rider, Matthieu Sprick. By the way, Vansevenant was second last in 2005.

Who’s wearing the jerseys?
Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner)
Green Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia)
Polka-dot Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom)
White Thomas Lovkvist (Team Columbia)

CW’s tip for the win
It’ll be Thor Hushovd… or someone else.


Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins


Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?


Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one


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