A classic transition stage, this might head through rural areas but sticks to large roads to bring the race north towards Paris. A sprint finish would be likely but several teams seem reluctant to chase any breakaways so this might be last chance for the majority of teams without a stage win to make amends.
- Km 67.5 – Côte de Saint-Georges 1 kilometre-long climb at 10.3% – category 3
- Km 117.5 – Côte de Cahors 1 kilometre-long climb at 7.8% – category 4
- Km 180.5 – Côte de Souillac 2.2 kilometre-long climb at 4.7% – category 4
- Km 212.5 – Côte de Lissac-sur-Couze 1.9 kilometre-long climb at 5.7% – category 4
The Route: the profile looks up and down and has several climbs but much of the road uses wide roads, a lot of the stage uses the old main road from Toulouse to Paris before the autoroute was built, up and down… but the sort of roads that a large truck can cope with, so it should not worry André Greipel and other sprinters. The hardest part comes at the end when the roads begin to twist and turn more but after the Pyrenees this should still feel flat.
The Finish: the race goes through Brive, an urban finish. A few twists and turns, a sharp right at 1600m to go, another at 600m to go. It’s not mentioned by the organisers but there’s a roundabout with 300m to go if you look at the satellite images… presumably this has been removed for the race and it won’t cause a nasty surprise for the riders.
The Race: bunch sprint or breakaway? Normally I’d say a sprint as the roads roll but few teams seem willing to chase. Greenedge refused the other day – they’ve done a lot of work for Goss but it hasn’t worked; maybe they will try today given he’s survived the mountains? Cavendish has been showing signs of fatigue. André Greipel has coped well too and will be a prime candidate for the win.
But many other teams need to get in the breakaway and make it stick. On a 222km stage, whilst the breakaways fly in the first hour it’ll be hard for Lotto and Greenedge to chase all day. Team Sky must be tired, Liquigas too and they’ve bagged the green jersey.
Weather: top temperatures of 25°C (77°F) but getting cooler as the race goes north. There will be a slight headwind from the northwest.
TV: coverage starts from 2.00pm Euro time with the finish expected early between 4.15 and 4.45pm. The action from the start will have passed so tune in for the finish.
Local rider: the stage starts right by the city of Toulouse, home of Ag2r’s Blel Kadri. Kadri’s mother runs a small convenience store in town and before turning pro, Kadri belonged to a club in the start town of Blagnac, the same club that his team mate Péraud, Europcar’s Arashiro once rode for too as well as David Moncoutié who crashed out earlier in the race. Later on the race passes through the village of Moncoutié which isn’t far from the actual village where the Cofidis rider grew up.
Local food: where to begin? Ok, the stage starts just north of Toulouse and heads past the Frontonnais vineyards and then onwards past Cahors and its dark Malbec wines before passing over the Quercy plateau where truffles and foie gras are plenty going near Rocamadour and its goats cheese before finishing in the Limousin region, famous for its red cattle and their tender beef.
Do: attack. With the Champs Elysées and a near certain sprint awaiting, today is the last chance for many riders to try something.
Don’t: crash. Every rider has survived the Pyrenees and will start this stage with their fingers crossed hoping they can make it to the finish because a time trial awaits and then the victory laps of Paris.