WARNING: this post will contain trace amounts of fear disguised as whining and/or hand-wringing...those who are easily disgusted should shout "grow a pair ffs" and move right along!
Tour de France stages are designed to be difficult for the pro teams (never mind us amateur bluffers) because Le Tour sadists sorry, organisers usually want to avoid a procession from the start line until that day's finish line. In the case of the Pyrenean and Alpine stages it's obvious where the trouble is coming from (er, above) but in the case of the flatter stages you could be forgiven in thinking that there isn't much to worry about.
You take a 130 mile stage with maybe only 3000' of climbing and think to yourself 'Yeah, it's going to be a drag but nothing that we haven't done before...': that's a big mistake because the organisers have used their knowledge of the prevailing winds and road surfaces (cobbles and exposed sections) to make for what they consider an um, interesting stage, by which I mean one where headwinds and crosswinds will split the bunch up and introduce time gaps and basically make life bloody difficult.
|Although there may be up to 80 of us cycling on any day, it's *highly* unlikely that we'll be in close formation!|
|The so-called flattish stages of the first week could well be awful thanks to the expected headwinds.|
|I know...it looks rubbish doesn't it? Worth the swearing'n'sweating though.|
|"We're going up, we're going down, we're up-down-up-down anyway you want to go baby!"|
All that is left to do is to raise another £570 and it's job done! Please see if you can spare the price of a decent coffee or a pint: you know it makes sense...thank you.