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Cathédrale de Tournai (photo credit: Matthias Lavigne)

June 30 update: Stage 2 is the third and final day in Belgium. Starting from Visé, just north of Liége, the Tour will take the most direct route towards France heading west for 208 km before an expected mass sprint finish in Tournai near the border with France.

Tournai is one of the oldest cities in Belgium and has been controlled by the French, Austrian, Spanish and English at various points in its history and it is now considered one of the most important cultural sites in Belgium. The mixed Romanesque- and Gothic-style cathedral of Notre Dame de Tournai (photo above) and the belfry, the oldest in Belgium, have been jointly designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Most of this stage passes through the "lowlands/plains of Belgium" and there is very little elevation change so this day should end with Mark Cavendish's first stage win. Apparently, he's lost 4 kg/ 9 lb as he prepares for the Olympics in London later this summer so we'll see how that has affected his speed. André Greipel (Lotto), Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Tylar Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) among others will be looking for the upset.

Other than a few roundabouts, the finish should be straight-forward on a wide road. — Steve