Another day, another sprint? Yes and if I’d pencilled in today’s run as the most boring of this year’s Tour de France there’s always room surprise, especially for the superstitious on Stage 13. Yesterday we saw Chris Froome narrowly avoid a crash whilst team mate Edvald Boasson Hagen left the race with a broken shoulder.
There are not many chances left in the Tour for the sprinters. Perhaps tomorrow but that’s uncertain and then all that remains is Paris. With so few chances left for the sprinters to win this means high pressure to deliver.
Stage 12 Review
The stage started outside the railway station of Fougères and finished with the Argos-Shimano and OPQS sprint trains pulling into Tours. If we’d been wondering who was the fastest sprinter perhaps we got the answer with Marcel Kittel? Perhaps but it’s not definitive as André Greipel was thwarted by a crash. Plus I thought Mark Cavendish went early in the sprint, allowing Kittel to shelter and then turn on the power. Kittel’s background is as a time trial ace and in the 2010 Worlds in Geelong, Australia he was on the podium with Taylor Phinney and Luke Durbridge for the U-23 time trial. This might mean he’s got the ability to turn on the power for a long duration rather than Cavendish’s kick. Listening to the Humans Invent podcast (16m30s onwards) Daniel Friebe reports Cavendish has been making several big costly efforts during the final four kilometres rather than cruising at a steady wattage before launching his move.
Stage 13 Preview
- Km 77.5 – Côte de Crotz 1.2km at 4% – category 4
A long flat day that’s a celebration of French agribusiness. It’s not quite Kansas or the Ukraine but the wheat fields go on and one. The race heads through the heart of France, if not the beating heart then the Cartesian centre with the village of Bruère-Allichamps claiming to be the village at the geographic middle of France.
The bump at the end of the stage shown by the profile is nothing to worry about either. It’s not steep, it’s not long, it’s not narrow. It’s nothing. St Amand Montrond has often featured in Paris-Nice as the destination for the first road stage and a regular sprint finish.
A tricky run through town. St Amand Montrond is not a big place and the race will cut across the town in no time. Note the obstacles on the way, some are unavoidable but that kink in the final kilometre is strange. The race could go straight but it gets sent left then does a sharp right turn before turning left again to pick up the finishing straight… oddly the Rue Pelletier d’Oisy rather than the nearby Avenue du Tour de France. The left-right-left slalom seems to avoid an asymmetric roundabout so it could be a safety option but it will string out the bunch before last 470metres of the final straight.
Another bunch sprint looks likely. The breakaways are futile there are too many teams hoping to win the sprint. OPQS, Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol will work all day plus Sky might ride out of pride for the yellow jersey and this is before we think of Cannondale toiling for Peter Sagan or Orica-Greenedge for Matthew Goss. So take your pick from Kittel, Greipel, Sagan and Cavendish. I think all these riders are faster than the others and it’ll be interesting to see their performance once again.
Weather: sunny and warm. A light crosswind coming from the north-east is forecast but nothing to get excited about.
TV: live from 2.20pm Euro time. Once again the action should come at the end so tune in from 4.30pm to catch the build-up to the sprint.
Today is the last of the certain sprint stages until Paris. Tomorrow could still suit the sprinters, notably Peter Sagan but the probability of a breakaway succeeding now soars for the race. The same is true for the scenery and note the correlation, the more varied and interesting the terrain the better the chance of a move sticking.