• BMC Racing won the team time trial at last month's Critérium du Dauphiné... Can they do it again today? (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
A twenty-eight kilometre team time trial awaits. The day before the first day of rest is anything but a sleep-in...
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12 Jul 2015 - 3:16 PM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2015 - 3:22 PM

As far as cycling is concerned the heart of Plumelec is the Côte de Cadoudal, a 1.7 kilometre slope with an average gradient of 6.2 percent, and the end point for today's ninth stage.

The Tour has already been here four times before; on three occasions the French has held their national road championships in Plumelec; and the Grand Prix de Plumelec-Morbihan, a one-day race classified as 1.1 in the UCI Europe Tour since 2005 and which counts towards the Coupe de France de cyclisme sur route (French Road Cycling Cup) - most recently won by Mûr de Bretagne stage winner Alexis Vuillermoz - has been going since 1974.

Time trials are not uncommon to Plumelec, either.

On 12 July 1982, a double-stage day in that year's Tour, a 69 kilometre TTT was held in the morning from Lorient to Plumelec, with a 138km en ligne stage from Plumelec to Nantes later that day. The former was won by the TI-Raleigh team, though the Peugeot team of maillot jaune Phil Anderson, who took the race lead from Bernard Hinault (riding for Renault) on Stage 3, managed to do enough to keep the Australian in yellow. Two days later, however, in a 57km indvidual time trial, Hinault, a specialist against the clock, took back the lead - and this time for good. By the Champs-Élysées, Anderson would finish fifth, 12'16 behind the pugnacious blaireau de Bretagne.

In 1985, Plumelec played host to the opening stage of the La Grande Boucle, a prologue of 6.8km, won by none other than Hinault, who would go on to win a record-equalling fifth Tour alongside Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx. Such was the dominance displayed by his La Vie Claire team, the next best competitor turned out to be his own team-mate, Greg LeMond.

With the Côte de Cadoudal being the sting in the tail once again, Plumelec will be defined as the town where the Tour is not won, but should any of the GC contenders' collectives find themselves seriously wanting, it may be where their race is lost.

Christian Prudhomme, Directeur du Tour de France, says:

"In just two days, the Tour will be visiting the two major sites of cycling in Brittany. The final showdown will however be different with the climb up the Côte de Cadoudal coming at the end of a 28-kilometre team time-trial. This test of strength and moment of truth will be awaited with anxiety by the main actors of the GC, especially because the final uphill part could influence on the choice of strategy."

Matt White, Orica-GreenEDGE head sports director, says:

"The difference between the teams time trial this year and the years before is that I've never seen a TTT so late in a Grand Tour. So, through crashes or injuries, I expect to see some teams starting with a few riders less. That's why you need a little bit of luck, as well.

"Teams starting with one or two riders less are certainly at a disadvantage. If you've had any riders involved in crashes in that first eight days, you're at a disadvantage. And what a lot of people don't realise about this teams time trial is that it's not a normal TTT: it's a slow one; there's not many - if any - metres of flat, at all. And it actually finishes on a pretty solid climb, just under two kilometres long, so it's not a pure test of your five or six big teams time trial guys.

"That said, it'll be your usual suspects battling it out for the stage win; under normal circumstances, it would be us, Etixx, BMC, Movistar, Astana and Sky. And Katusha. Obviously, what happens in the previous eight days is going to have the biggest effect on how the results pan out...

"We recced the climb to Plumelec the week before the Tour started. Things could implode on a climb like that. Or, if you've had a good roll on… When you look at the average speed of a teams time trial, usually, there's one kilometre an hour of difference between the top four teams - and that's on the flat. It's a lot easier to go one kilometre an hour faster or slower on a 1.7K climb to the finish...

"It's never fun, riding on a climb like that up to the finish and on your time trial bike, after 27K. So, the final two or three minutes is going to have a big factor on the final result. I think 30-45 seconds will be the difference between all the top GC guys' teams."

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