Two of the nine cobbled sections due to have been used on Stage 5 of the Tour de France are reportedly being skipped today on safety grounds, with heavy rain expected to continue throughout the day in northern France.
The sections in question are number 7 at Mons-en-Pévèle (1 kilometre in length), and number 5 (1.4km), from Orchies to Beuvry-la-Forêt, according to a tweet from Laurent Bruwier of Belgian broadcaster RTBF. They’re not the most difficult on today’s route.
Today’s stage, which incorporates some of the cobbled sections used in Paris-Roubaix – there will now be seven sections totalling 13km – is one of the most eagerly anticipated of this year’s race by fans.
However it is also perhaps the most feared by many riders including the overall contenders due to the unpredictability of riding on the pavé and the threat of losing significant time due to punctures, crashes or mechanical issues.
In the case of defending champion Chris Froome of Team Sky, there is an added concern – he is carrying injuries including one to his wrist, which may have a fracture, after crashing early on yesterday’s Stage 4.
This picture, tweeted this morning by Alberto Contador, shows the type of conditions lying in wait for the peloton today.
Por aqui debemos pasar dentro de 3h.Que os parece?We will be here in 3h. pic.twitter.com/p5EJBVTvcx
— Alberto Contador (@albertocontador) July 9, 2014
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.