Arc-et-Senans — Besancon (25.8mi / 41.5km)
Monday 9 July
The previous two days in the mountains may have caused a minor shake-up in the overall standings — and at least one GC contender will almost certainly be turning his focus from the final podium to a stage win — but the first major shots could be fired today in this 41.5km time trial from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon. The slightly rolling course should see the race’s GC favorites like Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) putting big chunks of time into the less TT-adept like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
But the day should be dominated by the true TT specialists like former and reigning world champions Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma). The Swiss and German are both back from spring injuries and should duke it out for the top two spots on the stage. Wiggins could contend for the stage win as well, as could Garmin’s Dave Zabriskie and Omega Pharma’s Peter Velits.
A big question heading into the race’s second of three time trials is how riders like Fränk Schleck and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) can hold up against the clock. They’ll need to limit losses for their high-mountain attacks to bear GC fruit.
Arc-et-Senans, the City of Time, seems an appropriate place for a time trial, and has hosted the Tour once before. This Unesco World Heritage site didn’t host the Tour until 1996, when upstart Michael Boogerd won his first of two Tour stages.
Besançon has hosted 18 times previously. The first finish there made history, as the riders in that stage climbed over the Ballon of Alsace — a harbinger of the difficult mountain stages which would soon become synonymous with the race. In 2004 it would again witness an historic event, as Lance Armstrong would win the day, sealing his unprecedented sixth Tour victory.