It's sprinters v punchers for Tour's second stage
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Friday, July 4, 2008

It's sprinters v punchers for Tour's second stage

by Agence France-Presse at 7:59 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
The Tour de France sprinters are hoping to officially announce their race entry with a bunch finish on Sunday, but there are plenty of 'punchers' who will look to kick that plan into touch.

At just 164.5km long, the second stage takes the peloton north from Auray to Saint-Brieuc over undulating terrain, paying tribute to Tour legend Bernard Hinault on the way by passing through his hometown of Yffiniac.

Breakaways are a near certainty, and with five-time winner Hinault's name on everyone's lips a few Frenchman are likely to be among them.

The only problem for any breakaway group is the location of the last of the day's four climbs - and the slightly uphill finish in the coastal city known most for its superb sailing and scallops farming.

Ascents which are close to the finish line can often condemn the plans of the sprinters teams, who like to up the pace on rolling terrain before getting their fast men organised on the flatter home straights.

The final climb on Sunday is 70km from the finish, although the slightly undulating terrain in between should allow the sprinters' teams the chance to up the pace and reel in any early escapees.

From the fourth-last kilometre on Sunday, the road rises before it gets to the 200 metre long home straight.

Whether the sprinters keep it together for the first mass battle of this year's race remains to be seen.

But most will keep in mind it was Liquigas' Italian ace Filippo Pozzatto, a 'puncher' who can pull away from rivals ahead of and on inclines, who won when the Tour last visited St Brieuc in 2004.

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