Cap Fréhel is a small peninsula, a cape, on the coast of Brittany with only 1,600 inhabitants and the actual finish location is the village of Pléhérel. The arrival of the race today will probably be the biggest thing to happen in the village’s history. It’s a unique setting with tall cliffs above the sea, heathland and salty air.
The only climb is La Côte de Gurunhuel at 45km (note the Celtic names in the region). It’s 2.3km at 5.1% so noticeable but still 4th category and one point on offer.
The intermediate sprint at Goudelin comes after 70km and features a straight but downhill run before a final kick up to the line.
After this, it’s on to the feedzone and then the remaining 85km are along the coast with some exposed sections. In particular until St Brieuc there’s a crosswind, although not one coming from the sea but from inland and it’s predicted to reach 30km/h. Again if teams get organised it could be a chance to split the race but the wind might not be strong enough.
If the racing isn’t lively all day expect TV commentators to fill their air time with a mention Bernard Hinault. The last Frenchman to win the Tour, he won the race five times in his career and made a name for himself thanks to a forceful character as much as his impressive collection of wins. At times an ogre on the bike but a gentleman at off it, he is from the area and today runs a dairy farm as well as lending his name to a bike brand and helping ASO with the Tour de France and other races.
The last 5km look hectic, with a road that’s only 6.5 metres wide most of the way and then the winding entrance into Pléhérel. Note the last kilometres are not flat either, they barrel up and down. There’s a decent ramp between 4km and 3km, not one for the climbers but just what’s needed to disrupt a sprint train. Then it’s a high speed race to the line which will favour the sprint trains. The final bends are sweeping rather than sharp but the wind will have its say.
I suspect a bunch finish is likely given HTC-Highroad want to win a sprint with Mark Cavendish. We’ll see if they can get their train up to full speed. Other squads seem to have the measure of them, plotting like villains in a spaghetti western to blow the approaching train off the railroad. But this means the last 10km should be great viewing, it’s not going to be about the last 500m but the build up.
Weather: wet at times with cool temperatures of 20°C (68°) but just 15°C (59°) during the rain showers. Winds reaching 30km/h coming from the south-west but with gusts up to 50km/h later in the race.