Fougeres to Tours (218km)
Thursday, July 11 6:10 A.M. EDT – 11:07 A.M. EDT
Live Coverage sponsored by Clif Bar
This is a day for the sprinters. Without a single categorized climb on the menu, there isn’t much to say about this stage and if you were to miss only one stage of this year’s Tour de France, this may be it.
The 218 kilometers from Fougères to Tours take the riders southeast into the country and they can expect a quiet day in the saddle. However, if the crosswind is strong, we may see a team try to split up the peloton toward the intermediate sprint, but it’s not very likely to happen. The stage will take place in head/crosswind and that makes the peloton’s job of catching an early breakaway relatively easy.
There aren’t many obstacles on the route today, but the final 650 meters make up for that with two 90-degree corners. It seems unnecessary with such a dangerous finish and hopefully we won’t see any crashes. The two sharp left-hand corners mean the peloton will be stretched out significantly and the ideal the scenario is to enter the last corner in second position with one leadout man left.
This kind of finish favors Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) a lot more than the real power sprinters like André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and stage 10 winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano). The two strong Germans are both best when delivered at high speed and that won’t be possible in Tours. Cavendish accelerates very quickly and with these two corners, he will have an advantage on Greipel and Kittel. Also, Cavendish is very eager to take revenge. He — and his team — underperformed on stage 19 and Cavendish has now been involved in two bunch sprints in a row without winning. If the past is any indicator, it’s almost impossible it will happen three times in a row. On top of that, if Cavendish can turn his rage over Wednesday’s urine-spraying incident into power, he will be very difficult to beat. —MIKKEL CONDÉ