Today’s start and finish are not far from each other but the organisers have chosen a big S-shaped route instead of a straight line. Even so it’s 167.5km, one of the shorter stages of the Tour. With two small hills along the way there’s every chance this ends in a bunch sprint, especially as tomorrow sees the high mountains, it’s the last chance for the sprinters for a while.
The terrain isn’t hard, the race will pass farmland and a few vineyards and roll through sleepy towns built of pink bricks where normally the only visible life in the afternoon are a few dogs trotting about. Expect photos of the bunch rolling past sunflowers.
The intermediate sprint is mid-stage, maybe a breakaway will sweep up some points but it’s not a tricky run in, being wide and flat for the last two kilometres. The same is true for the whole day.
There’s not much more to stay about the stage! I’ve scanned the profiles, I’ve checked the route but there’s nothing tactical to note. The run in to Lavaur is straight and flat, a finish to delight sprinters and their team trains but thwart the ambitions of anyone else.
A few riders are almost local, like Ag2r’s Blel Kadri and Jean-Christophe Péraud but they’ll struggle to find an opportunity today.
Weather: rain showers forecast but clearing for later, with top temperatures of 21°C (70°F). A 20-30km/h wind should not cause too much damage but the route goes in an S-shape so the direction varies for the race, and finishes with a headwind.