When Friday July 10
Impact on overall: 1/5
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Where are we?
Livarot is a relatively rare thing on the modern-day Tour de France: a stage town that has never been used before. Perhaps Christian Prudhomme, or one of the other ASO big wigs, discovered a taste for the pungent local cheese after seeing it in a BOGOF deal at their local Carrefour, and bellowed at the route designer: “Find me that cheese town!” Regardless of whether that is the case, today’s menu serves up another long, flat stage, from Livarot in Normandy to Fougères in Brittany, to close out the first week of racing.
What’s on the route?
If you’re in town to follow the race, those with a taste for Calvados could do worse than stop off somewhere for a tasting of the local apple brandy. The pros should probably wait until they’ve made it safely to Paris before joining in. Although if this had been only a few decades earlier, they would have happily staged a cafe raid on a hot day and stocked up on delicious booze.
Tour organisers would have reimbursed the establishments’ proprietors later, while, later still, sports scientists would have discovered that top athletes shouldn’t really be guzzling alcohol during one of the toughest events on the sporting calendar.
It’s another stage for the sprinters, and for the big guns who haven’t yet picked up a win, their teams will be getting more than a little restless as the Pyrenees rapidly approach.
If a team can get a win under its belt early in the race, ideally in the first week, everyone on the squad — including the team staff — can relax that bit more and consider their Tour a success. Of course, having that pressure removed begets more risk-taking, which can lead to further stage victories. Basically, win one stage, and you’ll be hungry for more.