Thursday, 7 July 2011

Stage 7 Preview

Famous in the world of motor sport, Le Mans is no stranger to the Tour and massive entourage nor cycling in general. Hosting the traveling town that comes and goes like a one day circus for an 8th time this year will be no problem for a city that regularly hosts more than 200 000 people who visit the circuit for the 24 hour race. It is here that Laurent Fignon won the Individual Time Trial here at the beginning of the 1984 Tour; he would later go on to win that Tour by a margin of 10 minutes. Four years later Jean-Paul Van Poppel outsprinted the daily breakaway, much to its despair, to take one of 4 stages in that Tour; the highest taken by a Dutchman in one Tour.

Tomorrow the peloton will race 218km along the flattest stage route of this years Tour as they head from Le Man to Châteauroux where the latest generation of sprinting heros will do battle for a third time in Tour history. In 1998 Mario Cippolini took the victory here; 10 years later it was to be the setting of the first of 16 victories for a young rider who was set to take the sprinting world by storm and be christened the Manx Missile. No doubt he will be eyeing a homecoming victory tomorrow as he returns to the city where he got his first taste of Tour success.

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