Friday, 6 April 2012

Energiewacht Tour Stage 3

Stage 3 - click to enlarge
(image credit: Energiewacht Tour)
Stage 3 (Friday 6th) consists of six laps of an 18.4km circuit  around the Oldambtmeer lake (53°10'16.18"N 7° 1'31.82"E). It begins on Hoofdstraat by a church (53°11'40.37"N 7° 0'36.38"E), then heads briefly south before rounding the southern edge of the water. At 800 hectares, Oldambtmeer is one of the largest lakes in the Netherlands and is completely artificial, having been created as part of an environmentally sustainable project that includes Blauwestad, a new village designed specifically to encourage bicycle use - since the Dutch in the rest of the country are already well and truly in love with the bike, it seems likely that the locals here are going to turn out in huge numbers to see the race.

Kirsten Wild
(image credit: AA
After passing between the two smaller lakes on the western side, the riders follow the road along the southern banks and then turn north onto the N967. They arrive at Oostwold and then head west along Huningaweg, back to Hoofdstraat and on to the finish line located at the same point they started. It's another very flat parcours, with a straight and slightly downhill initial section that will promote fast starts and, as was the case yesterday, encourage breaks - if a group of favourites forms in the early part of the race again, they could easily dominate the race. If they don't, expect attacks aplenty from the lesser-known riders - and a concerted effort from the big guns as they pull them back in the final lap.

Marianne Vos (Rabobank) prefers a twistier parcours but since she excels on any route, chances are she'll retain and probably increase her General Classification lead today. The stage will in all likelihood finish with a large group crossing the line together, which means that with  the 2.5km, ever-so-slightly uphill final section between Oostwold and the church it'll be the powerful sprinters such as Lizzie Armitstead and Kirsten Wild (both AA who are the ones to watch.

Note: Oldambtmeer is an important nature reserve - if you're fortunate enough to be at the race or to have access to footage, look out for the spoonbills which nest in the reeds at this time of year.

The weather's not looking bad for the stage with sunshine expected for at least part of the day. However, there's a reasonably high chance of light showers and although it won't be windy the temperature as the race begins will feel cold at 6C. Maximum temperature today will be about 9C.

Follow the official race Twitter @ewachttour for details during each stage and information on the race. Local TV RTL7 is broadcasting a short highlights show daily, today's edition being at 16:45 BST (+1 hour for local time/CEST).

Stage 1 / 2 / 3 / 4a-4b / 5 / Guide / Video Vault

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