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Stage 19: Bonneval-Chartres

WHERE ARE WE?
Not to be confused with the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Bonneval will nonetheless host a bunch of speed demons in the hunt for the Tour title. Bradley Wiggins might have the upper hand: he knows this area well having won a time trial nine years ago at Bonneval at the 2003 Tour de l’Avenir. Chartres is home to a famous cathedral famous for a quirk of geography and architecture. It’s built on a hill in the centre of town, which means it’s visible for miles around from the flat plains. Culture vultures will also have noted that the time trial passes through the village of Illers-Comblay en route. Illers-Comblay was the setting for Proust’s masterpiece A la récherche du temps perdu (In search of lost time). Has there ever been a more fitting location for a final Tour time trial?

WHAT’S ON THE ROUTE?
Just the flat plains of this Beauce region. There’s not a hillock on the 52km route, but it’s windy around here. The skinny climbers could get a bit of a buffeting.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN?
Big time gaps are going to appear between the climbers and the time triallists. Whether the gaps will be big enough to annul the time gains that have gone before, we don’t know, but none of the climbers can say they weren’t warned about today.

 

SCENERY
For the riders, the two metres in front of their front wheel; for the rest of us, the quiet plains of Beauce

WE’LL BE GORGING ON…
Ouefs à la Chartres – basically poached eggs with tarragon. You can’t beat a bit of egg when you’ve been living in a car for three weeks already.

BEST BIT
The nail-biting finish that is hopefully going to materialise.

PREVIOUS WINNERS IN CHARTRES
2004 Stuart O’Grady

SPOTTER’S GUIDE

FROM THE ARCHIVES
Cycling Weekly July 17, 2004
Stage five, Amiens-Chartres
True to his word, after blasting the opposition in the team time trial, barely 24 hours had passed before Lance Armstrong shed himself of the yellow jersey at the first possible opportunity.

You got the impression the five breakaways that he and directeur Johan Bruyneel let move up the road were all carefully vetted both for their lack of relevance to the GC struggle and willingness to defend a yellow jersey lead nonetheless.

Brioches La Boulangère’s Thomas Voeckler fitted the bill perfectly: French, the national champion to boot, a strong rider, and more than willing to hold on to the yellow jersey for as long as possible, he was the ideal ally.
The five-man move was even bigger news for Cofidis: Stuart O’Grady’s win is an excellent way for the team to try and put all the enormous problems they suffered this spring and early summer behind them.

IN DEPTH
- Chartres hosts the Tour for the second time. The first was in 2004, when Stuart O’Grady won from a breakaway which also included Thomas Voeckler. Voeckler went into the race lead.
-The final time trial of the race was over 50 kilometres every year between 1996 and 2008. In 2009, it was 40.5km, in 2010, it was back up to 52 kilometres, and last year, 42.5km.
- The race lead has changed hands 10 times in the final time trial of the race. The last time was in 2011, when Cadel Evans went into the race lead in Grenoble.
- The longest Tour time trial in history was 139km, in 1947.
- The eventual overall winner of the Tour has won the final time trial 14 times in the last 30 Tours.

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Maps courtesy of Amaury Sports Organisation

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