MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - Today is the 'First Stage' of the 2009 Tour De France and it is both starting and finishing in Monaco. The photo shows the finish line for the First Stage and the start will be immediately opposite on Boulevard Albert 1er in approximately the same place as the starting grid lines up for the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Tour De France First Stage Route will start at the Port in Monaco and then take the same Formula 1 route climbing up towards Monte-Carlo's Casino. It will then veer of the F1 course turning left and passing through Casino park and continue to climb up Monaco's Boulevard de la Princesse Charlotte taking a route past the famous Jardin Exotique. After this, the route exits Monaco and enters France, taking the Moyenne Corniche which is both climbing and then descending as the riders travel through the French villages that overlook Monaco and then head back towards the sea to finish back at the Port in Monaco.
The riders will be travelling at full velocity as they come back down from the elevation that they have climbed to. They will hit a peak elevation of 205 m as they reach the heights of Beausoleil, France. Yesterday, based on the types of cycles being prepared, the teams were in for a real sprint to the finish, and some very high clocked speeds were expected two thirds of the way through the race as the riders went downhill along the Moyenne Corniche route. The riders will adopt very aerodynamic positioning for the First Stage as they come down in elevation and near the sea is at maximum velocity.
Once the riders have made their way back with a clear view of the sea, they will make a clockwise U-turn back towards Monaco and follow the coastal route within France along Avenue Jean Jaures. This is an elevated stretch of road that is about 60 metres above sea level and runs parallel with the sea, and makes a gradual descent back towards sea level with a quick downhill section passing the Monte-Carlo Tennis Club continuing to descend towards the beach district of Monaco.
The riders will now be in a full out sprint towards the finish and vying for top position as they pass the Grimaldi Forum on Avenue Princesse Grace and head towards the famous F1 tunnel that borders the sea and passes under the Fairmont Hotel. With the anticipation of the finish line, the world's best riders will apply full power to the finish, exiting the tunnel and braking to take the chicane left turn towards the finish line on the same section of Monaco street circuit that the F1 cars take.
Next it is a left past Tabac corner, then a quick left and right with a short straight towards the Finish Line (visible in the photo above). It promises to be an historic race and everyone will have their eyes glued on America's Lance Armstrong as he starts his quest for an eighth come-back victory at the Tour De France.
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