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June 29 post: Uncharacteristically, Stage 4 features the second uphill in the first four days of the race and this one is more difficult than the first stage. After a 173 km route through the Brittany region starting in Lorient, the stage will end with an uphill finish in Mûr-de-Bretagne. The Tour has passed over this climb several times before (most recently in 2004 and 2006), but never finished on it. The 2 km finishing climb is 10% for first km before for the less steep 4% final km. In total, it averages 6.9% giving it a cat 3 rating. As you can see from the streetview photo above, the climb is very straight and the "finish is almost visible from the bottom" according to race director, Jean-François Pescheux.

The course along the narrow, twisty, lumpy roads of Brittany will likely split the peloton well before the finish. Look for a puncheur like Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) to attack from a small group on the 10% section and then hold on for the win. It would be a special birthday present for the Belgian classic specialist who will turn 29 years-old on this day. — Steve