STAGE 4: MONTPELLIER – MONTPELLIER

Tuesday, July 7



DISTANCE: 39km TTT



WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?

The riders head west out of Montpellier, through the suburbs, before looping south and back to the city to complete the 39-kilometre route – the shortest Tour team time-trial since 1992. It is a technical and lumpy course, with plenty of twists and turns to break up the rhythm.



Though there are several uphill drags in the opening half of the TTT, wind will be the major concern on this predominantly-flat offering. After yesterday’s frenetic finale, teams will be all too aware of the tricky mistral blowing off the Mediterranean and the havoc that it can cause.



There are three time checks on the course: at Grabels (9km), Murviel-lès-Montpellier (19.5km) and Pignan (30.7km).



The order of departure is judged on the team classification. Therefore, Caisse d’Epargne are the first to leave Montpellier, with leaders Astana last team off, two and a quarter hours later.



First team off – 1430hrs CEST

Last team off – 1643hrs CEST

 

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?

The first real rendezvous on the route, the team time trial may not decide any race-winners, but it could certainly spell disaster if there are any significant time differences.



With no adjusted time differences, as there were in 2005, every second will count and anyone losing three minutes or more will be saying au revoir to the yellow jersey.



The Giro d’Italia team time trial was a showdown between Garmin and Columbia; this time around, factor Saxo Bank and Astana into the equation as well.



Predicting a winner is tricky, but judging by how Columbia has controlled the race so far, they will take some beating.



TEAMS TO WATCH


Astana – This will be the one day for the rest of the Tour de France that Astana will have to adopt some form of unity. Armstrong is already staking his claim for team leadership but neither he, nor Contador, will want to lose any time and will be forced to work together.



Columbia – The Columbia team won the Giro d’Italia team time-trial, but worked hard yesterday to set up another win for Mark Cavendish. Will they be too tired today to complete a hat trick of wins?



Garmin – It is Judgement Day for Garmin. Months ago, directeur sportif Jonathan Vaughters earmarked this stage as theirs for the taking. Since then, no other team has invested as much time and energy into perfecting changeovers and riding in tight formation as Garmin. Will it be a case of practise makes perfect today?



Saxo Bank – Super-strong Fabian Cancellara will be hoping to hold onto the yellow jersey today, though it would be a surprise if Saxo Bank could take stage victory. However, with their great strength in depth, the Danish-registered team should finish inside the top four, adequately setting up the Schleck brothers for the Pyrenees.



CW’S TIP TO WIN

Team Columbia-HTC



WHO’S WEARING THE JERSEYS?

Yellow – Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank)

Green – Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC)

Polka-dot – Jussi Veikkanen (Française des Jeux)

White – Tony Martin (Team Columbia-HTC)

 

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

STAGE REPORTS



Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador



Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint



Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial

NEWS



Tour de France 2009 News Index



The Feed Zone: Monday, July 6



Analysis: Why Columbia must expect to do the bulk of the chasing



Wiggins challenging for top 20 overall



The Feed Zone: Sunday, July 5



Cancellara: Tour time trial win proves I’m back


Tour de France teams in Monaco presentation




Boonen free to ride in Tour de France




EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



Stage three: David Brailsford interview



Stage two: Mark Cavendish on the Tour



Stage one: Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS



Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson



Team presentation by Andy Jones



Team presentation by Graham Watson

TOUR GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

FEATURES

Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles

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  • michaelmph

    erm…I think you’ll find that the Mistral comes off the Mediterranean. Tha Atlantic is on the other side of France and Spain.

  • Felix

    Going to be a super-powerful wind if its blowing aross all the way from the Atlantic coast!