Famous for its 24 hour motor race, the start town of Le Mans will have hosted the race for no more than 18 hours before the riders head off to Châteauroux, a town famous for nothing.
The stage crosses flat terrain, if you think France as the land of baguettes and croissants, this is where the flour comes from, with fields of cereal as fare as the eye can see. The race also passes through the Loire valley, home of many impressive châteaux and vineyards. But I have to describe the landscape as there’s not much to say about the stage.
Note the intermediate sprint is very late in the day, just 25.5km from the finish. The map above shows the run into Buzançais and the sharp left hander at 500m to go and then the last bend is more a sweeping curve the sprint point. It’s slightly uphill too.
The last five kilometres are standard sprinting fare with rounabouts, road narrowings and two 90° bends. Tricky but the roads are wide most of the time and the last two bends are very wide. The race has been here in 2008. In fact it’s here where Mark Cavendish won his first ever stage in the Tour de France and many will be surprise if history does not repeat itself.
Weather: milder weather is back, it’ll be mostly dry and 22°C (71°F) but cooler if rain does appear. A light crosswind is expected but despite the flat exposed terrain, it doesn’t look strong enough to create any havoc, especially because it becomes a headwind towards the finish, just to ensure any breakaway’s chances of success are even slimmer.