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Preview: 2013 Tour de France — Stage 13

Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond (173km)

Friday, July 12 7:25 A.M. EDT – 11:11 A.M. EDT
Live Coverage sponsored by Clif Bar

Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) gave Germany its fifth stage win of this year’s Tour de France and he has a good chance of bringing home no. 6 on stage 13.

This is the last day for the sprinters before Paris and with a light tailwind, this 173-kilometer stage will take place at high speed. There is a small Cat. 4 climb after 77.5km, but the 1.2km toward the top won’t push any riders into difficulty. The intermediate sprint is located with about 60km to go and we should see the peloton speed up here, which will most likely end a breakaway’s chances of success.

Looking at the profile, one could think the riders have to overcome a steep climb near the finish. That isn’t the case. The road kicks up a little but only for around 2.5km with an average gradient of just 2.6 percent. There are less than 10km to go from the top of this hill and we can expect a fast finish.

The run-in to Saint Amand Montrondis actually quite simple, but again ASO has made it more difficult for the riders. The last kilometer includes no less than four corners within a few hundred meters. The last one — a left turn in a roundabout — comes with just 400 meters to go. The tricky finish makes it very important to be well placed and once again, Kittel is the big favorite.

Argos managed to deliver Kittel perfectly onto the wheel of Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in stage 12 and right now, the strong German is the fastest man on two wheels. Even with a perfect leadout, Cavendish can’t be sure to win anymore and that makes Kittel the man to beat.

Lotto-Belisol had a horrible end to stage 12. Marcel Sieberg, Jurgen Roelandts, and Greg Henderson — André Greipel’s last three leadout riders — each crashed hard in the big pileup inside the final 3km on Thursday. Greipel hasn’t been strong enough to beat Cavendish and Kittel without a proper leadout —something he’ll probably lack on Friday — and it won’t be easy for him in Saint Amand Montrond. —MIKKEL CONDÉ

Follow Mikkel Condé on Twitter @mrconde and visit C-Cycling to read more about stage 13 and see outsiders for the stage win.