Tour de France leaves Denmark, throws itself into “Nordic hell”

After three successful stages in , the Tour de cycling race returns home on Tuesday, with sprint specialist barely leading from Yves Lampaert and Tadej Pogacar. There is a long way to go. We look at some of the key challenges that lie ahead.

Each stage of the is important, but some are more important than others. The crucial question is who will wear the competition leader’s yellow jersey when the survivors arrive at the finish line in Paris on July 24.

Here are some of the moments that will determine the final hack order.

Wednesday’s fifth stage from the northern French city of to Arenberg has no mountains along its 157 km. But twenty of these kilometers go over cobblestone roads, part of the stretch that gave the cycling classic Paris-Roubaix the nickname “Hell of the North”.

Rock and roll on the road

It’s a tough early test of men and machines.

For Tadej Pogacar, who has a hand injury, those few thousand meters can be crucial.

Some teams will have the luxury of pitting their leading riders against each other in order to determine the team order for the later stages.

Ineos will be watching Adam Yates closely, knowing that Geraint Thomas will only be too happy to take over if Yates shows any weakness.

Likewise, Jumbo has Primoz Roglic, and current competition leader Wout van Aert to choose from.

The refuge for the beautiful girls

Friday’s seventh stage is scheduled to end in the wonderfully named summit La Planche des Belle Filles.

Legend has it that this was a haven for local girls who wanted to avoid sweaty Swedish mercenaries during the Ten Years’ War in the 17th century.

The last time the Tour took this climb to a peak in the Vosges Mountains, Geraint Thomas won time on all his key rivals on the punishing tops competing over gravel.

Tadej Pogacar won here in 2020 when the summit was the culmination of a crucifixion 36 km .

The differences between the total challengers are expected to remain for 40 seconds. But this is the Tour’s first summit and will provide a pointer for the crucial alpine stages to come.

Test times in ski country

The 10th stage in the Swiss Alps between Morzine and Megève is potentially the most strenuous test of the early Tour, with over 40 km of tough uphills, including a Category 2 climb just before the finish.

Ineos have two climbers in their ranks, Daniel Martinez and Adam Yates, both capable of giving defending champion Pogacar a fight, or at least tearing him out on a Tour that is otherwise thin on traditional mountain challenges.

Originally published on RFI

Tour de France leaves Denmark, throws itself into "Nordic hell"





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