The profile says it all: 23km and it’s flat. The course is not as technical as the last time the Tour included a team time trial when several teams were blown to pieces by hills and corners. Bbox lost several riders in one go but that can’t happen this time since the team, now known as Europcar, has its HQ and service course in Les Essarts.
Europcar might have home advantage but this time the teams arrived in the Vendée days before the race so everyone’s had time to ride the route. Yet a recon isn’t too useful since the course is almost featureless. It is not on large straight roads, the course does twist and turn a little but there’s nothing too technical for nine professionals. The final approach back into town has a roundabout with 1km to go and a sharp right hand bend at 500m to go
The time gaps won’t be big given the length of the stage, teams are expected to take around 25 minutes.
Rules: the time is taken on the fifth rider to cross the line. Unlike previous TTTs, the time losses are not capped meaning the time taken by a rider is the time they are awarded. Riders arriving outside the time limit will be eliminated and this delay is set at 30% of the winning time. So if the best time on the day is 25 minutes (1,500 seconds) then the cut off is time is 450 seconds or seven minutes thirty seconds.
Weather: the forecast suggests a pesky 30km/h sidewind meaning close formation and echelon formation could make the difference when it comes to winning the stage.
Viewing: The stage is important tactically for the race. Alberto Contador is already 1.14 down on his principal rivals and he could easily be two minutes down by the end of the stage. But if the stage makes for good pictures, it’s not usually great TV. Tune in for the last hour to see the action.