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Weather is often the unnamed enemy at the Tour de France.
Heat, wind, rain and cold can turn what would otherwise be a routine stage or climb into pure hell.
A quick look at short- to mid-range weather forecasts calls for seasonable but unsettled conditions the first week or so of racing in the 2009 Tour.
Forecasters are predicting moderately warm temperatures into the upper-80s for Saturday’s opening time trial in Monaco, but with a 20 percent chance of afternoon showers.
Heat and humidity will make for a demanding day to open the 96th Tour, but rain could turn the already challenging Monaco course into mayhem.
Forecasters expect a similar weather pattern throughout the first week of racing as the Tour winds south along the Mediterranean Coast and pushes into Spain.
Temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 80s and lower 90s with chances of afternoon thunderstorms.
Rain could throw a pall on the technically challenging team time trial course in Montpellier on July 7, when the threat of afternoon showers could dramatically alter the outcome of a potentially decisive stage.
Ten-day forecasters predict that the chance of rain will diminish as the race nudges into Spain by next week, with temperatures in the mid-80s and mostly sunny skies.
Rain was a major factor last month during the final stage time trial at the Giro d’Italia in Rome.
Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream) had just set a fast time midway through the race when it started to rain, forcing him to ride more conservatively on the rain-slicked closing kilometers, only to lose by one second to early starter and eventual winner Ignatus Konovalovus (Cervélo TestTeam).