The race resumes gently. Today should be a semi-rest day for plenty in the peloton as the peloton meanders around gentle countryside before a likely sprint finish in Bergerac.
The Route: a scenic tour of sunflower fields, past farms of ducks being fattened up for foie gras and grazing goats kept for cheese, past orchards of walnut and fig trees and below the hilly limestone plateau where truffles spring up. This is a land of long lunches and all in the land of the poet La Boétie whose works on domination and servitude might form the basis for Wanty-Gobert rider Guillaume Martin’s next column in Le Monde this week as he reflects on the breakaway bowing to the mighty sprint trains. As for the race, because there is one, there are few obstacles, the roads can be rough at times but the climbs are gentle and only offer one point each.
The Finish: flat. they circle around Bergerac and approach on big main roads. There’s a tight roundabout with 3km to go just before the cross the sleepy Dordogne river and then a wider roundabout on the other side of the bridge and more big roads around town to the flamme rouge. Just after this comes a sharp left-hander followed by another left-hander a couple of hundred metres later before the 500 metre finishing straight. The corners will line things out but nobody will want to come out first from the last bend because it’s too far to the line to lead.
The Contenders: a sprint finish? Bergerac’s host five Tour stage starts and finishes before but none have ended in a sprint. However this is probably explained by three of these stages being time trials rather than anything more superstitious. Certainly the route says yes and so does Herr Kittel but remember there are fewer sprinters left in the race, there are several orphan sprint trains so fewer teams will chase. Quick Step will be confident in Marcel Kittel‘s chances but they’ve already enjoyed plenty of success so the onus is on other squads to take up the chase which in turn only bolsters Quick Step’s chances for the finish.
The two teams with a big interest in the sprint are Lotto-Soudal for André Greipel and Katusha for Alexander Kristoff. Both teams know their sprinters represent their best chance for a win so they’ll work hard at it.
Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) might appreciate the corners in the finish as they’ll mix up the bunch but he did mention something the other day about illness. Meanwhile Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo) has been thereabouts in the sprints but never in with a chance of victory but as others fall away perhaps he’ll run closer. Finally Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) must be feeling more confident after his near-miss in Nuits-Saints-Georges but he’s without leadout expert Mark Renshaw.
|André Greipel, Nacer Bouhanni
|Kristoff, Groenewegen, Matthews
Weather: cloudy with some sunshine at times, the chance of a shower and a pleasant 26°C.
TV: live from the start at 1.10pm CET with the finish forecast for 5.30pm CET. This is scenic but there are only so many shots of sunflowers and sleepy rivers to see.