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Tour de France: Where the race will be won and lost

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Where the Tour de France will be won and lost

RoadCyclingUK’s countdown to the 2011 Tour de France continues with a look at the key battlegrounds for the general classification contenders ahead of this year’s race.


Stage two: Les Essarts – Les Essarts

Date: July 3
Distance: 23km
Type: Team time trial
Highest point: 76m
Key team: HTC-Highroad

Absent in 2010, the team time trial returns for stage two – but over just 23km. Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong’s Astana bossed the 2009 Tour de France TTT but Mark Cavendish’s HTC-Highroad team has won in this discipline at the past two Grand Tours.

The opening day of May’s Giro d’Italia saw just 73 seconds separate HTC in first and Euskaltel-Euskadi in last and, while designed to shake-up the yellow jersey contenders, it won’t put anyone out of contention – although Euskaltel leader Samuel Sanchez may spend the first week looking up the overall standings at his GC rivals.

HTC have the opportunity to put Cavendish in yellow, providing the Manx Missile doesn’t lose too much time on stage one, a flat but windy 191.5km road stage with a category four climb to finish at 228m. David Millar’s Garmin-Cervélo, Bradley Wiggins’ Team Sky and four time world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara’s Leopard-Trek will also feature.

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