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Preview: 2013 Tour de France — Stage 4

Nice TTT (25km)

Tuesday, July 2 9:26 A.M. EDT – 11:17 A.M. EDT
Live Coverage sponsored by Clif Bar

The Tour de France returns to the mainland after three interesting days on Corsica. The Promenade of Nice replaces the spectacular scenery on the island. Not a bad substitute, but not as beautiful as Corsica, either.

This team time trial is one for the big powerhouses. The 25-kilometer course includes just nine corners and the profile is nearly flat as a pancake. The technical section comes right in the beginning, with three sharp turns within the first 1.5km. From here, the riders continue on wide roads toward the time check at 13km. There are only two corners to overcome in the last part of the route and this will make for a fast final section, despite a likely headwind at the far end of the out-and-back course.

In the Vuelta España and the Giro d’Italia we have seen undulating team time trials suiting the climbers. This one is completely different. It’s made for teams with big engines and not surprisingly Omega Pharma-Quick Step is among the big favorites. The Belgian team won the world championship last year and even without Tony Martin at 100 percent, Mark Cavendish and Co. will be very difficult to beat.

Omega Pharma’s biggest rival is Garmin-Sharp. Jonathan Vaughters’ team has always focused on the team time trials. Garmin missed out on the yellow jersey on stage 2 by only one second and will be very eager to take revenge. David Millar is the best-placed rider for Garmin, and after winning a stage last year, it would be some achievement from the Scot to top it with a yellow jersey in Nice, more than a decade after his previous run in yellow.

Orica-GreenEdge took its first-ever Tour stage win on Monday. Simon Gerrans managed to beat Peter Sagan (Cannondale) on the line and now Gerrans sits third overall. The Australian team doesn’t have a rider for the GC and this is surely another of its key stages. Many of the GC teams would be pleased not to waste any energy defending the jersey at this point, but Orica would love it. The morale is high and with riders like Svein Tuft, Cameron Meyer, Daryl Impey, and Bret Lancaster, the Aussie squad should be able to fight for the top spots. —MIKKEL CONDÉ

Follow Mikkel Condé on Twitter @mrconde, and visit C-Cycling to read more about stage 4 and see other contenders for the stage win in Nice >>

High-speed dance

An hour-long flight the evening before will enable the riders to sleep in Nice. Then they will have the morning to recover after the extremely tough route through Corsica; in all likelihood, this should be the most physically demanding Grand Départ since San Sebastián in 1992. And then comes the team time trial, where each team’s time will be taken when the fifth rider crosses the line. In what is a straightforward and relatively short test (25km), they are going to be moving very quickly. Expect average speeds of 55kph or more on the Promenade des Anglais along Nice’s beachfront. There will be a duel between the world champion Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Sky teams.