July 8 Stage 7: Le Mans to Châteauroux, 218km (135.5 miles)
This is another long stage, but much flatter, heading south from the Loire valley to a flat finish in Châteauroux — where Mark Cavendish won his very first Tour stage three years ago. There are some sharp turns and a roundabout in the final 5km, but the lead-out trains set up by the teams of the leading sprinters should prevent any late attacks from succeeding.
THE SCOOP: This stage will almost certainly provide the last (and best!) mass sprint finish of the Tour’s opening week, though the overall contenders will again have to avoid crashes (on two sharp turns and the roundabout) before reaching the 3km-to-go marker.
OVERALL RATING: *