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2011 Tour De France, Stage Three Preview: A Sprinter's Delight Up The Coast

Fooch's Note: Check out our rundown of Stage Three results.

The 2011 Tour De France begins it's move north up the French coast as the cyclists will ride 198 kilometers from Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon. The stage is about as flat as they come, which should give the sprinters a fighting chance to make some headway at this early stage of the race. They'll lose ground when the race gets into the mountains so any edge they can get will help them build some kind of cushion. While a fairly flat stage can make for an exciting sprint to the finish, the coastal stretch could prove hazardous for some. If the wind picks up off the ocean it could force riders to stay closer to the pack.

Levi Leipheimer and Team Radio Shack will likely be looking to stick with the front of the pack but not necessarily take any unnecessary risks. As long as Leipheimer can hang around with the first pack of riders he can set himself up to use the rougher terrains to make his move. Furthermore, with Alberto Contador reasonably far back of the pack he's got some time at his disposal with which to work.

Stage three gets going at 5:00am pacific on VERSUS. NBC will not be re-airing the stage, but rather VERSUS will have four re-airings at 9am, 11:30am, 5pm, and 9pm.

We'll be here for the entire race providing news updates and stage previews and recaps, particularly as they relate to Bay Area cyclist Levi Leipheimer. For more in-depth discussion on the 2011 Tour De France, head over to Podium Cafe. For more general Tour coverage, head over to the SB Nation story stream.