Tour de France Stage 7 Preview

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tour de France Stage 7 profile

After six stages by the sea the race heads inland. There’s a different feel to this stage with more climbing but the real mountains are on the horizon with the Pyrenees tomorrow. For now a sprint finish is likely.

Stage 6 Review
The day started with the abandon of Jurgen Van den Broeck. A outsider for the podium, VDB is one of the sport’s mysteries because he’s capable of rivalling the very best in the sport yet I bet you know next to nothing about him. His media profile is stealthy to stay the least.

Talking of media coverage, Cofidis’ Luis Angel Maté went away at the start in the worst possible move. Why so bad? Well he was alone and on such a windy day it couldn’t last. But worse, he got caught just as the TV cameras started, denying millions the chance to see the Cofidis jersey.

The bunch was nervous in the crosswinds, there was a crash for Cavendish and it was a stressful day for the bunch… but many watching on TV just saw images of the bunch riding together. Instead of the crosswind we got a whirlwind sprint finish with André Greipel winning after being dropped into the perfect place by team mate Greg Henderson. Some space in the bunch saw time gaps, allowing Daryl Impey to take yellow.

Stage 7 Preview

  • Km 80.0 – Col des 13 Vents (600 m) 6.9km at 5.6% – category 3
  • Km 94.5 – Col de la Croix de Mounis (809 m) 6.7km at 6.5% – category 2
  • Km 149.0 – Côte de la Quintaine 6.5km at 4% – category 3
  • Km 171.0 – Côte de Teillet 2.6km at 5% – category 4

The Route
After six stages within reach of the sea, today’s 205.5km route heads inland and starts to climb. It’s best to view the stage in half. The first 100km is hilly and the Col des 13 Vents and Col de la Croix de Mounis are hard climbs with steeper slopes, a combo that can drop sprinters.

But the second half sees everything flatten out. The Côte de la Quintaine is long but steady, the road lifting from the valley below. It’s scenic, with rolling hills that have been picked clean of woodland, think Tuscany perhaps. This is the Pays de Cocagne, a land of plenty, full of postcard scenes of French rural life. Of course there’s no tourism for the Tour, the roads lend themselves to a bunch chase.

The Finish

Some fast roads for the finish. The race thunders into Albi. It’ll be too frantic to notice but crossing the river Tarn is a scenic moment and marks 1800m to go. From here a near straight line and the finish on the outskirts of town.

The Scenario
A good day for a breakaway. With the right composition it could be given some room during the first 100km but Orica-Greenedge won’t surrender the yellow jersey without a chase.

Watch the GC contenders. Not because they’ll attack but to see how they rest and whether any have troubles. It’s also worth watching to see what Pierre Rolland does, is he targeting the GC or the polka-dot jersey? The Col de la Croix de Mounis could tell us more. But don’t expect big moves, there’s a long way to go.

The longer the stage goes on the flatter it gets. Yes the second half of the stage still includes some climbs but these are steady and so this should be a day for the sprinters, their last before a weekend in the Pyrennes. If it looks hilly for you then pick Peter Sagan but otherwise Mark Cavendish would be the obvious choice. He crashed yesterday, did plenty of work himself to get back to the bunch and later sprinted without much of a leadout. Expect full service this time to carry him to the finish.

Weather: hot and sunny with not much of a breeze.

TV: live coverage begins at 2.20pm Euro time, maybe just enough to catch any action on Col de la Croix de Mounis and time to survey the race. Otherwise tune in for the final 30 minutes with the finish expected after 5.10pm.

Toulouse-Lautrec
The finish town of Albi is a great place to visit and ride. It’s the home a large art museum dedicated to the town’s most famous son, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The artist painted scenes from Parisian life but he also worked as a commercial illustrator. His commissions coincided with cycling’s first golden age as bicycle technology started to offer affordable transport. As brands tried to launch themselves Toulouse-Lautrec played his part with illustrations for several ad campaigns.

No sunflowers?
The most clichéd image of the Tour de France has to be the bunch rolling past a field of sunflowers. It’s the kind of image that makes the front page of a newspaper on a slow news day. Only the late spring this year means crops are late and even in the south of France the flowers are slow to arrive. But today could be the day as it’s warm and full of fertile fields.

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{ 35 comments }

hoh July 5, 2013 at 6:40 am

Looks like consistency (many 2nd places) beats the occasional stage wins for the points classification. Well done for Peter Sagan the Great.

Wondering how far down on the GC is Monsieur Rolland? I figure he’s not down enough to get free pass on big mountains.

CityGent July 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

Consistency or luck? If Cav doesnt get stuck after the farce of Stage 1, those standings look very different. And what a finish he put in yesterday with little team assistance. Did it strike anyone else as strange as to how little assistance he got after the fall, and also then for the lead out?

The Ladder July 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

OPQ seemed to burn a lot of matches early on in the finalé, leaving the door open for Lotto to slot in with 5km to go. I was surprised they took so long to get teammates back to Cav – is this a case of trouble over the radio’s?

Re: the luck comment, remember that Sagan and Greipel both had mishaps in stage 1 also. Hard to look past Sagan for green again this year I feel, he’s going to consistently score points in the hilly stuff as well as the flat stages – 2nd and 3rd placed finishes behind Cav or Greipel in the flat stages seems to be enough to limit his losses.

TomP July 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm

According to OPQS’s DS their race radios weren’t working so they didn’t know who had gone down.

Nick Evans July 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Sagan and Greipel were also caught up in the Stage 1 crash, though, so I’m not sure the standings would be *that* different.

Agree that it was odd about the post-fall help, but in the lead out, I thought that OPQS just went too early, so they had nothing/no-one left to help Cavendish when Lotto got going.

LDR99 July 6, 2013 at 1:29 am

Realistically, Cav didn’t have a chance after that fall. The bunch was going full throttle and Cav could have had all eight guys with him and it wouldn’t have helped much. He was going full bore behind cars. I doubt teammates would have got him back to the bunch much quicker. When he lost the cars he had teammates. Velits got him through the bunch quickly. But bottom line was Cav was doing a major motor pace effort to get back on, burning lots of candles. The team showed how hard it was being on the front all day. With the wind and speed, Stages 6 and 7 were two of the toughest days, back to back, these guys are going to face this Tour. And that includes the mountains.

The Inner Ring July 5, 2013 at 9:14 am

I can’t see Rolland getting much room in a break but he could still try like we saw in Corsica. But the amount of points available is modest, there are many more points coming over the weekend. I’m interested to see if he uses energy today for a handful of points.

Chris E Dub July 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Don’t forget that Sagan has been contesting the intermediate sprints too, whereas Cavendish has seemingly not bothered with them.

Al-Bo July 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

I’m sure Sky won’t want Chris Froome in yellow yet, but what are the chances of Edvald Boasson Hagen accidentally landing in it? How’s Daryl Impey on the climbs? Clearly he’s not been troubled so far.

The Inner Ring July 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

Tomorrow brings a full summit finish. It’s short so the time gaps will be small but it could/should be for the real climbers. Impey? He’s versatile but the high mountains have never been his thing.

Tricky Dicky July 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Yes, hard to see Froome not being yellow at the end of the stage tomorrow unless Gerrans or, perhaps more likely, Albasini have an absolutely great day in the mountains. Albasini is capable of it I think and I suspect Sky wouldn’t mind at all.

Simon July 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Kwiatkowski could be in yellow too, he was climbing with the best at Prati di Tivo in Tirreno-Adriatico so I think he could hang in there even if there are some big attacks. And he looks impressive in this tour, pulling hard on flat stages and in the TTT. Then again Sky have never been scared of taking the leader’s Jersey early in a race so maybe Froome will go for it.

P O'R July 5, 2013 at 9:06 am

What was up with Cav? Swearing about his bike, no team mates? Was it those new hydraulic brakes that made him crash?

The Inner Ring July 5, 2013 at 9:16 am

I think Cav was asking the same questions, it took time for Pineau to drop back and then Velits led him through the bunch. As for the bike, he started with his normal bike and only got the one with hydraulic brakes as a replacement after the crash.

One Man Grupetto July 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

Apparently their team radio’s weren’t working. They knew that one of their team mates was down but it took a few minutes before they realised it was the short, fast, sweary Manx one.

Paul Jakma July 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Re radios:

It’s bizarre how people are saying that Stage 1 bus-gate demonstrates how much radios are needed. Apparently half the field, including the eventual stage winner, never heard of either of the finish changes. Rather than the need for radios, surely what stage 1 proved is that radios are *dreadfully unreliable* and can NOT be trusted on to relay critical information to the riders.

What the stage 1 bus-gate surely proved is that, if there truly is race or safety critical information that must be passed on to riders, that it requires a more reliable mechanism than radio! Alternatively, that for truly race or safety critical conditions, action OTHER than trusting to radio are required.

The “needed for safety!” argument for rider radios surely should be seen as dead and buried now?

tom July 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Is the ASO too poor to pay for a few mobile electric sign boards like they use along the highways to warn motorists of danger/construction ahead? Seems like a perfect solution to the communication problem. A rider may not have his radio ear piece in, or working, but his eyes are always working (or he’s got much bigger problems!).

Paul Jakma July 5, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Tom,

Yeah, some kind of rolling, visual mechanism seems like it’d be best. It’s what they use for communicating the split times after all!

Mike July 5, 2013 at 9:28 am

Woot woot for Daryl Impey the first South (African) in the yellow jersey ever!

Víctor July 5, 2013 at 10:03 am

So no attack from Nairo in Côte de la Quintaine? :)

Erik Berendsen July 5, 2013 at 11:16 am

My guess for the day……an Europcar day, so pich your rider, I can’t think off a group without one off them..

One Man Grupetto July 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

My guess is that it will be Gene. He’s the only one I haven’t seen making an attack during the Tour so far. Although their team tactics are pretty unorthodox so I can’t discount that he put in a dig during the TTT.

Panda July 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Any views on Gerrans ‘giving’ the yellow jersey to Impey? Apparently it was his idea, all planned the day before. Gerrans is now even more of an Aussie sporting hero (team player and all that)! I know giving stage wins to helpers is pretty common, but what about the maillot jeune? Any famous other examples?

The Inner Ring July 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I think Gerrans was just caught further back in the bunch was Impey made the split in the front. This looks more like a transfer than a planned gift.

Al Hinds explains more from his perspective at http://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/al-hinds/blog/128068/tour-soapbox-the-aftermath-and-stage-7-preview

Nick Evans July 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Wasn’t Gerrans enough places behind Impey that the jersey would have passed over even if there hadn’t been a time gap?

Panda July 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I’ve just watched an interview with both Gerrans and Impey on SBS Australia – they both seem very clear that handing over the jersey was pre-planned. I’m not sure Gerrans intended to lose 5 seconds though.

Bundle July 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I’m pessimistic about seeing anything else than a bunch sprint today. If the sprinters get dropped on the Croix de Mounis, I suspect Cannondale will not have the guts to pull hard and prevent them from getting back. Maybe Orica will, but I don’t think so. I also didn’t understand yesterday when Argos and Lotto and the others didn’t try to take advantage of Sagan and then Cavendish being left behind.

Tom July 5, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Sagan won in part because Cannondale kept the pressure on.

TBS July 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

If this level of entertainment is the best Le Tour can come up with in their 100th running they should swap places with the Giro; why should the Italians have to run the risk of losing their mountain stages due to the weather when they could just run the Tour in its place, a race that is apparently so disinterested in using them? So far seven stages in and there has been no GC action and nothing meaningful to talk about. Tomorrow is the first foray into the high mountains, but no one will attack on the HC because of the long descent. That leaves a final 10km of a shorter climb that might be worth watching. Sunday finishes with a 30km descent— no action will stick there. After the rest day it’ll be four more boring flat stages and a flat time trial, before the first meaningful summit finish on stage 15(!) After the rest day it’s two more silly stages before the double Alpe-d’Huez stage, which will be good, followed by a stage with all the high mountains at the start and another descent to the finish, which leaves only stage 20, which could be interesting, before the flat run into the Champs-Elysees. In all, a handful of stages worth watching for more than the 5-10 minutes a sprint stage deserves. Even by the Tour’s standards, it’s pretty pathetic. Roll on the Vuelta …

Martijn July 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

That’s on purpose. Prud’homme wants to prevent at all costs that time differences get too big in the first two weeks. That’s also the reason the TTT was so short.

Mats July 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm

I fully agree with TBS. The Tour is really boring to watch compared to Giro these days. Le Tour includes much too many sprinter stages which are really painful to watch (and I’ve seen them all since 1987 or so). There are virtually no stages for last kilometer punchers or foolhardy attackers. It’s becoming all too methodical and predictable. Even the Vuelta is more interesting to watch.

Garuda July 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Yeah, virtually. Otherwise i’d have a problem. We did have that bakelandts win with the mj. That was a foolhardy move that worked wonders.

The Inner Ring July 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Surely you’d complain if they put a giant mountain stage now? The race would be too obvious. The point of this weekend is an introduction to the mountains, not to settle the race.

Bundle July 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm

But I bet it will. Froome is too impatient, and Quintana has to take advantage of his altitude training. And here is enough climbing for a real carnage.

Martijn July 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

The one thing I don’t understand is the tendency of this year’s Tour to put a lot of flat km’s after the last hill. I thought the experiment from two years ago where one of the early stages finished on the Mur de Bretagne was a real success: there was a real fight between the big guys, but the time differences were small enough to keep the race exciting.

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