Tour de France Stage 7 Preview

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Tour heads east towards the Vosges mountains and this is a final transition stage ahead of the mountains. Two late climbs add some suspense to the finish, it’s uncertain if the sprinters can cope. There’s nothing severe but it makes for a finish that’s harder to control.


Stage 6 Wrap

A sprint win for André Greipel finished off a stage that needed to be finished with. It was a dull procession for most of the way but not without it’s difficulties. Crashes in the peloton forced more abandons yesterday the previous day’s cobbled chaos. Xavier Zandio (Sky), Jesus Hernandez (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Egor Silin (Katusha) all left the race, each riders who would have played a supporting role in the mountain stages.

Closer to the finish and OPQS exploited a light crosswind to split the bunch. Joaquim Rodriguez, Thibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland were among those caught out by their propensity to hang out at the back of the bunch. Rodriguez isn’t racing for GC and Rolland has lost beaucoup time already so Pinot was the main loser, surrendering a minute for free after doing fine over the cobbles.

Michał Kwiatkowski jumped with 1km to go to spice things up before the inevitable German win. André Greipel went from a long way out but never had to worry finishing over a bike length clear of the rest. It was all the more impressive because Jurgen Van Den Broeck had crashed and the Lotto-Belisol red guard was dispatched to his side leaving Greipel to do the sprint without his usual train. JVDB is fine, he was seen laughing outside the team bus.

The Route

  • Km 217.5 – Côte de Maron, 3.2 kilometre-long climb at 5% – category 4
  • Km 229.0 – Côte de Boufflers, 1.3 kilometre-long climb at 7.9% – category 4

The profile shows a little more climbing but throughout the day but categorised climbs are saved for later. It doesn’t quite show on the profile but the route includes a lot of rollers. Like yesterday this is very exposed terrain.

Heading towards the end the two marked climbs stand out on the profile although on closer inspection if they’re highlighted by ASO they’re not necessarily special. The Côte de Maron starts from the Moselle valley and climbs up through woodland. It’s a large road and a steady gradient, there’s nothing to catch riders by surprise here and the bad climbers should be fine if they’re tucked into the slipstream. Nobody fighting for the stage win should be dropped here but they can lose position. It’s followed by a regular ride into the finish town of Nancy.

Here we have the final climb of the day up the Avenue de Boufflers, a long straight climb through the town. This is steeper at and 8% it’s harder.

The Finish: a descent through the town with several twists and turns but it’s all on large roads. A sharp right leads the riders into the final kilometre and a long finishing straight.

The Scenario: another sprint finish? Yesterday had a slim chance of a breakaway surviving and today offers a little more hope but don’t get too excited. The final hills can trouble the sprinters but they’re not prime ambush territory as they’re long straight roads.

However if the hills are not hard they still alter the chances for the contenders. Peter Sagan is the prime pick, the sharp climbs suit him and of course he’s been so consistent in the race so far. His biggest worry is himself, he could start overdoing it on the climbs with attacks and then moves on the descents when he really needs to sit tight.

Bryan Coquard comes next, he weighs less than 60kg and so the finish is perfect for him especially if Europcar team mate Kevin Réza can shelter him on the final climbs.

André Greipel has often won sprints after a sharp climb or two so if the picking order is different the sprinters could still have their say. What of Alexander Kristoff? He’s often thereabouts and could strike too but just seems to get beaten every time when the sprint starts, in a straight contest of speed others can rival him. Marcel Kittel is tipped again because if he can make it to the finish he’s got the team to tow him into place and he can let his legs to the rest.

Arnaud Démare would be a good pick but he crashed yesterday and could be sore. Talking of sore points, note the finish is just down the road from Nacer Bouhanni’s house.

Otherwise it’s a lottery to name candidates for a win from an early break. For a late surprise watch Michał Kwiatkowski again, he tried yesterday but today’s climbs and twisting finish offer a better chance. Otherwise Simon Gerrans, Arthur Vichot and Greg Van Avermaet are others to watch. Finally Tony Gallopin is good in the hills, sprints fast and isn’t far from the yellow jersey.

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Peter Sagan
Bryan Coquard, André Greipel
Marcel Kittel, Alexander Kristoff
Arnaud Démare, Michał Kwiatkowski

Weather: with luck the thermometer will reach 20°C and it’ll stay dry too. There will be a light tailwind of 15-20km/h, again probably enough to split things up when the race changes direction and it’s a crosswind.

TV: the standard pattern of live TV starting around 2.00pm Euro time with the finished forecast for 5.30pm. As ever that’s a lot of live for a stage with the action coming late. The final two climbs start soon after 4.45pm.

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