Stage 4: Flash Gordon on Wheels

Today’s Tour de France stage is an individual time trial, an event like skiing’s giant slalom. Instead of a group start, each cyclist goes at timed intervals and tries to finish the 18-mile loop in the least amount of time. The race starts and ends in the western town of Cholet, which uniquely has its own professional basketball team.

The time trial course is relatively flat, but wind is always a factor. That’s why some cyclists wear helmets that look like something out of Flash Gordon. It all has to do with aerodynamics.

German Stefan Schumacher won today’s race in 35 minutes 44 seconds. It takes me longer to drive the same distance to work.

Tomorrow’s stage from Cholet to Chateauroux is relatively flat, but it’s the longest stage and there are several chances for the sprinters to show off. We’ll see.

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Filed under le tour 2008

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