Stage three is guaranteed to have a breakaway from the start, with a question mark for the winning rider.
One reason, though the first half of the 197 km stage that passes onto French soil is mostly flat, at 95 km from the start, the climbing begins.
Then there are a series of category 3 and 4 climbs with four climbs in the last 16 km, and a twisting course to the finish in Boulogne Sur Mer, a wind up that is sure to test the nerves of all the riders.
This means it is not a sprinter’s stage. It would have been an ideal stage for Thor Hushovd last year who excelled in a mixed climbing and breakaway course.
Sylvain Chavanel also won the French Championship race in Boulogne Sur Mer in 2011. Peter Sagan who has put in an amazing run so far this Tour will be motivated to make it to the finish first. And finally, there is the unknown rider who takes the break early in the race and could
Perhaps we will see Phillipe Gilber, who performed well in similar stages last year, step up to the plate and make a move. But that also depends on who gets out in the beginning and can make a lasting time gap to the end.
Depending on the rider, Team RadioShack Nissan won’t want their Yellow Jersey Fabian Cancellara, to slip away, so if the break has anyone worth challenging, the chase will be down to the nails on this course from Orchies, Belgium, to Boulogne Sur Mer, France.
Among our predictions:
–Unknown break rider